Saint Añejo brings upscale Mexican to M Street in the Gulch.
Written By: Erin B. Murray
Photographers: Ron Manville
Like its sister M Street properties—Kayne Prime, Virago, Whiskey Kitchen, Tavern—Saint Añejo has all the fixings for a fun night out. It feels roomy and spacious with a big wide bar and open floor plan but also ups the ante with pitchers of sangria and specialty margaritas, a stellar selection of tequilas, and plenty of share-worthy platters.
While there are other “upscale” Mexican spots in the area, what Saint Añejo adds to the mix is a sexy, see-and-be-seen vibe. A massive patio greets you before you reach the interior space. That’ll be the spot to hang out with a ginger-rosemary margarita or hibiscus lemonade come spring. In the meantime, grab one of the big, cushiony square stools at the U-shaped bar, which anchors the dining room; around it, the room is rimmed with inward-facing banquettes, meaning you’re never far from the action.
Toward the back of the restaurant and up a flight of stairs sits the Tequila Library Lounge, a cozy nook where you can sample any of the 120 tequilas (all are 100 percent blue agave) and 20 mezcals available. The list, curated by M Street restaurateur Chris Hyndman and spirit czar Dan Leverett, is offered in one- and two-ounce pours. The room is outfitted in a skull motif (a nod toward Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebration) and textured wallpaper and upholstery. But even with its dark décor, the room feels airy and especially conducive to a night out with friends.
The food delivers for big groups, too. Many of the dishes are rooted in actual south-of-the-border classics—it’s Americanized, yes (there are nachos), but with some notable efforts at authenticity (they make their own corn tortillas in-house). Most everything is shareable, like the guacamole, which can be enhanced with spicy crabmeat or mango and papaya (the classic suited us just fine with its hefty dose of cilantro and lime juice). Queso fundido gets the same treatment: Optional add-ons like chorizo and jalapeño can be brought to the table and mixed in, like performance art, as the cheese is melted in a piping hot cast-iron bowl (the serving ware gets creative with large wooden boards and bowls meant to mimic clay molcajetes). Those handmade tortillas are a great vessel for items like these—we recommend ordering extras.
And while Saint Añejo doesn’t offer dessert, there are plenty of options for a sweet ending, including the red sangria (available by the glass or pitcher) or, more appropriately, a two-ounce pour of the super-smooth and sippable Herradura Seleccion Suprema.
What to Eat:
Ceviche; queso fundido; local veggie quesadilla; grilled shrimp taco; lengua taco; snapper “huachinango”; mac and chorizo
What to Drink:
Tequila, since there are 120 varieties to choose from; ginger-rosemary margarita; a pitcher of Mezcal Mule (Mezcal, Blanco tequila, ginger beer, cinnamon, and orange); hibiscus lemonade
1120 McGavock St.