New Alero Restaurant Coming to Columbia Heights in the Tivoli on 14th St. in Old Rumberos Spot

by Prince Of Petworth March 22, 2010 at 9:10 pm 90 Comments


Wow, this is huge news. Alero currently has three locations in Cleveland Park, Dupont and in U Street. The space where Alero is moving into was formerly the home of Rumberos which after some confusion actually did close in Sept. ’09.

I called the U Street Alero location and they confirmed to me that indeed they will be opening another location in the Tivoli at 3345 14th St, NW. They hope to open some time in April. Thanks to a reader for the tip and stay tuned for more details as they become available. In the meantime you can see their current menus here. Think this is a good fit for the location?

  • katie

    Alero is terrible

  • Shawn

    Alero isn’t bad. You guys should consider using restaurant.com certificates to get $25 off your Alero meals.

  • Michael

    Alero has very bland food. I expect people in this neighborhood will realize that there are far better options just around the corner, like El Rinconcito II, El Rinconcito Portivo, and Taqueria Distrito Federal. That said, I guess it’s better than an empty storefront, even if I won’t be patronizing it.

    • Alero is tex mex. The places you mention are all El Salvadorean and it’s actually quite different.

      Text Mex ain’t haute cuisine, but for what it is, Alero does a pretty good job. There are far worse places in DC, like the dreadful Lauriol Plaza.

      I am sure they will do well in this space, and while I’d rather have a more interesting restaurant, it will be nice to have something new that’s not a chain or another pizza place.

    • sg

      you think alero’s is bad and LIKE Rinoconcito?

      i disagree. Alero’s Dupont and Clev park locations always have good food. Ust not so much. so lets hope we get the cooks from Dupont/Clev Park!

  • victoria

    Never ate there so I don’t know how the food tastes, but it can’t be as bad as it looks in the website photos.

  • CH Neighbor Keepin’ It Real

    I can’t wait to see all of the yuppies protest the inauthenticity of Alero while they buy a nice new Crate and Barrell couch for their loft… Let’s just call spade a spade: Alero is a good place with good margaritas. No, it’s not Taqueria Distrito Federal and it’s not trying to be.

    • Anonymous

      Yes please. Why are people so negative about everyting. Alero has good food. I am also happy I get to enjoy good food in a good spot. It is not just about the food you know.

    • Badger

      Well put.

    • Anonymous

      What’s inauthentic about Crate and Barrell couches?

    • Ragged Dog

      The phrase “call a spade a spade” is amazingly incongruous for someone who’s tagline is “Keepin’ It Real”. Live your life the way you want, but maybe consider dropping it from your posts in the future.

      • The phrase “call a spade a spade” has been around in essentially that form since ancient Greece. There is no racist connotation to it.

        • Ragged Dog

          Duhhhh! Sorry!

  • Sleepy

    Alero is just another typical DC restaurant that pushes its drinks more than anything, so that when you finally get your food you’re too drunkenly hungry to notice how bland it really is.

    • satan

      sounds awesome

      • CA

        LOL@ Satan.

        Question: When is it correct to label a restaurant the dreaded “C word”…a chain?

  • I think it will be a good fit in the space, and they apparently know how to run and manage a restaurant better than Rumberos did. Their other locations have survived for years, and what he area needs more than anything is stability. After Carvel, Rumberos, Mayorga, and Nori all failed, perhaps Alero will be be just what the Tivoli needs.

  • saf

    Ugh. Why are we getting Alero, Sala Thai, that coffee shop that I can’t remember the name of… all those places that are just not all that good.

    • Anonymous

      Sala Thai where?

      • saf

        They are supposed to be coming to the building that I forget the name of on top of the GA-Petworth metro.

    • Anonymous

      Because these are the businesses that are run by people who know what they’re doing. That’s why. Say what you will about the quality of the food at any of them, but it’s all more than passable. If I had anything to say about Rumberos, former resident of this space, it was that they never figured out how to run a restaurant — plagued by kitchen problems from opening week until close and slow-to-indifferent service, to name two — and really squandered the first-mover advantage they could have had by being the first more upscale joint in the area. They never tweaked the plan, and they failed.

      I have no doubt Alero will succeed in this spot, primarily because it already has found a formula that works well for it. Maybe not the ideal formula for every patron, but good enough for most.

      • Ragged Dog

        If the problem is the service and staff, then maybe the problem is the fixed costs of operation here (rent, etc.) as it affects the ability to charge more and pay a salary to attract higher level workforce (Mgrs and Wait Staff).

  • DC_Chica

    I like Alero. It seems like an odd choice given the abundance of Mexican and Salvadoran places in the neighborhood, but they have a solid combo of tasty food and margaritas, so I wish them the best of luck (outdoor seating, please!)

  • satan

    Awesome news. I’m hoping they downplay the club vibe of the U St. location, but in any case a Mexican restaurant in the neighborhood where you can hang out outside and get hammered on margaritas is awesome. I’ve been hoping for a place like that for years.

  • m

    i love alero! I hope that this means a NEW location and not that the U St location is moving… Best margarita in DC and i think the enchiladas are fab.

  • caballero

    Alero is just fine. I’ll take it, thank you. I’ve always had good service (one time, a Colombian server overheard my wife and I talking in Spanish and stopped to introduce herself because she recognized our accents….that’s actually a big deal for those of you who don’t understand), and the food has always been decent. We will definitely be dining there, and sampling from their tequila menu!

    • Keepin’ it real, dog

      Ahh, I see. There’s the problem. I didn’t have the right accent!

  • Matt

    ugh why does columbia heights need yet ANOTHER mid-scale chain-ish restaurant? isn’t RUBY TUESDAYS enough? i was REALLY hoping for another chinese food / sub / chicken / seafood combo restaurant, or a dollar store, since there are NONE of those anywhere in DC. ugh ugh ugh complain ugh ugh complain.

    • +1

      • Anonymous

        Lots of empty store front, why fight the ones that are coming? geez peps.

    • Redhead

      Hilarious that nobody got that you were joking. Um, folks, it’s not a Ruby Tuesdays. It’s a TGIF. I get that they’re not very different, but that error combined with the part that comes next makes for a d#mn funny post. Thanks, Matt.

      • Fear Mongerer

        Um, no, he means the Ruby Tuesday on the northeast end of CH. The one with sight lines so horrible you can’t watch a football game on the TV behind the bar without getting a neck crick. +1 for Tonic (on that game night anyway.)

        So now that we have Social, The Red Derby, the Looking Glass, what else can we get up in heah up north? I’m not counting Domku, I’ve given up on them.

        • Domku Hater

          I’m glad someone else is voicing their frustration with Domku. Assuming it has something to do with their service? Take it or leave it? The customer is always wrong? I have given up on them as well.

          • Stuck Inside

            Right, domku, elitist attitude at a place where you fear you’ll get shot by unruly teens on the way home, not for me.

            What we need is a good ole’ country western bar (aka the Raven, Millie/Als, the Eagle), next to an authentic bbq shack.

      • Anonymous

        It is not an error bud; Just agreeing with Matt that people complain about new places.

  • anon

    I’m hopeful it will be more like the Cleveland Park location – more laid back, more vegetarian options – than the U Street location.

  • anon

    So on a related note, I’ve never looked inside the Ruby Tuesdays in Columbia Heights. How is that place doing?

  • new hampy

    i am not a fan of the food or drinks at alero so there’s no way i’ll be going there. that said, tastes differ and others will. glad to see more development coming into the area and i wish the owners the best of luck.

  • Joe

    Great drinks. Shit food.

  • After ten years in Tucson, I don’t expect freakin’ “authentic” mexican food (whatever that is) in DC. Hell, the best Mex I ever had was from street vendors south of Tuc, not in some “building” with cloth napkins and wait service, so be thankful for the investment in the neighborhood, y’all. Bring on Alero, I’ve enjoyed the other locations. Just please stock mescal again. I miss the smoked margaritas.

    • Anonymous

      Hey, another Tucsonan in CH? Cool.

      As for Aleros, it’s fine. I grew up in Tucson, and I think I know good mex food, and in the grand scheme of things in DC, Aleros is perfectly acceptable.

      • mphs

        Poca Cosa, now there’s a Mexican restaurant that DC needs. See if you can get them to move here!

    • smoked maragaritas? that sounds like it might be my new favorite drink.

  • anon

    I think we can be glad its taking up a store front while still pointing out it’s food sucks. Maybe they will read these comments and try and improve. I’ll still be walking over to MixTec, Casa Oaxaca, or El Tam. Alero is just another incarnation of chichis or Chevys but with blander food. All that said I think they could do well if they peddle their drinks at happy hour and stay open latenight. Also should look into getting live music.

    • “MixTec, Casa Oaxaca, or El Tam”

      Ha ha!!! I haven’t been to El Tamarindo in a number of years, but when I lived in AM that place was always our go-to for a big group, since they could seat you, and a low budget. Nobody ever got food poisoning that I know of but umm… El Tams is kinda grim. It’s pretty funny that you would point to that as an alternative to Alero.

      The others two are real mexican restaurants, though completely different styles. El Tam is definitely tex mex and a plate from there is pretty much indistiguishable from a plate from Alero, Guapos, or whatever.

  • NAB

    I don’t think it’s even worth comparing Alero with TDF, Mixtec, etc. It’s a different style, more the texmex you see in strip malls all across America. Go to TDF for your tacos, Ercilia’s for your pupusas and Alero for your cheese drenched enchilada.

  • [email protected]

    Boring as hell.

  • myquest

    So any word on what’ll move into the U Street space?

  • x

    The 14th Street strip is beginning to look a lot like a MD strip mall split up over 3 city blocks… I don’t plan to eat at this Alero but maybe they’ll let me bring over a TDF burrito and get a margarita.

  • Raymo in Ledroit

    I said it about one year ago and still have the same feeling.

    Alero is horrible horrible horrible. Bad food, way too loud, and horrible service.

    • ontarioroader

      I think I called it “rockville-pike-ification”. We’re just missing an Olive Garden now.

      • anon

        I heard Olive Garden is waiting to see if Ihop opens before jumping into the Columbia Heights market.

        • jimmy

          don’t act an ihop in the neighborhood wouldn’t be phenomenal.

  • Rick Shard

    I had some of the worst Mexican food ever at the one in Cleveland Park a few years ago. Admittedly small sample size, but I haven’t been back since.

  • mphs

    I really liked Rumberos, drinks and food, and it’s too bad they didn’t make it.

    Alero’s, eh. I think there’s no reason Alero’s can’t improve their cooking. No excuse at all. It’s a nice space, and they really need to get some actual Mexican chef’s who can prepare some authentic cuisine. I’d be thrilled if they can pull that off.

    Maybe they make more money off of that reheated-taco-bell style cooking, but they won’t make it off me.

  • Jill

    These comments just made my day! I haven’t been to Alero yet and would like to see less-chainyr restaurants going in, but it it nice to see an empty space filled. Either way, I don’t think I’d ever say no to El Rinconcito II!

    Plus, where else are you supposed to go after shopping at the Children’s Place?

    • IHeartShaw

      Why knock Children’s Place? When shopping for kids, especially multiples, it is easy and convenient to go to Children’s Place. There are not a whole lot of other options in the neighborhood (Target and Marshall’s sum it up) and certainly nothing else in that price bracket in the District. So REALLY, what is the point?

  • I don’t like Alero, I thought Rumberos, for all its flaws, inconsistent food and service, non-existent marketing, etc., was much better, and of course had the gorgeous decor / atmosphere (I hope Alero tries to at least mimic some of that rather that the more generic feel of the U Street spot). That being said, VERY glad to have this empty space filled up, and glad they are coming to Columbia Heights. There are still plenty of vacant spaces left for more desirable places that serve a bigger ‘hood need (hello, someplace that makes GOOD sushi … ?????). But I’m happy for anyplace that will bring foot traffic to that block, which is a bit tricky given all the places between there and the metro. Meanwhile, I’m far more excited for Meridian Pint opening this summer …

  • Stoney Danza

    Waaah, waaah, waaah. All you complainers must have shitty, shitty jobs, cause you’re always in a shitty, shitty mood.

    This is great news and I’ll eat at that mofo every week!

    • Anonymous

      I am only one, but I will be sure to go to every place that opens in my hood. Alero spot is sweet, lots of caracter.

  • Ike’s Mom

    Who cares if the food sucks – the margaritas do not. Totally thrilled about this.

  • As always, you’d think the commenters on this blog are professional chefs, given the way they complain about restaurants. It’s just food, people….and it’s in your neighborhood. Open mouth, lift fork, insert fork in mouth, chew.

    Now, wasn’t that easy?

    • Anonymous

      ^^Perfect example of the classic D.C. attitude that we should all be thankful for the mediocrity that surrounds us, just because it’s there.

      • ^^Perfect example of inflated sense of entitlement. From what I understand, DC is not kind to the entrepreneurial spirit; roadblocks are plentiful for small business development. So if you’ve got a better idea, boss, git you some fukkin’ investors and do better. I anxiously await your press-release.

        • Ragged Dog


        • Anonymous

          You’re an idiot. Just because you’re content to surround yourself in mediocrity and be perfectly happy with it doesn’t mean the rest of us are.

        • Anonymous

          Whatever, dude. The food there is terrible. People like you with no taste are the only reason they stay open.

  • Anon

    I will have to side with some of the earlier comments, I am glad the store front will no longer be empty and that it won’t be taken be a ‘chinese food / sub / chicken / seafood combo restaurant, or a dollar store.’ My problem isn’t with those types of establishments per se, merely I think it is better to have more options all around.

  • rocketnerd

    glad to hear i’m not the only one who finds their food to be way subpar. i appreciate the advice that their drinks are solid and will use it as a margarita/chips&salsa source.

  • I drink CH Kool Aid

    i love how these people say it’s beginning to look like rockville pike b/c a restaurant that is only located in DC is opening up in our neighborhood.

    if you don’t want the conveniences of the suburbs right at your doorstep in the City, than move the F out.

  • It’s not Vegetate, but I am certainly glad it isn’t a TGIFriday’s or other national cookiepressed chain. A local cookiepressed chain is fine to fill up this otherwise empty storefront.

  • the gup

    Awesome! pretty sure 90% of the POP readers would be against oxygen if given the opportunity to express their opinion on it.

    Alero’s is no Lauriol/Guapos or some other awesome tex-mex place, but its NOT the worst place either. Also, it is giving us another option for a non takeout restaurant in the neighborhood.

    all of you hipsters/emo’s really need to listen to some monty python and start looking at the “bright side of life.” geeeez.

    • saf

      Neither of those are “awesome” Tex-Mex places either.

      And remember, there are more than hipsters here.

  • I’m wondering if they learned their lesson on U Street. We like the Cleveland Park location well enough and were excited about having one in walking distance from us until we saw that it had a different, more expensive menu. They’ve backpedaled a bit on the food prices since they opened, but I don’t think they were ever as busy (at least on the restaurant side) as they wanted to be.

  • Silver Spring JD

    Alero is terrible.
    I went to school in Albuqeurque and Tucson.
    I went to Alero ten days ago.

    The chicken mole was flavorless. The chicken was dry. And at 8pm the place was to loud to hear the date across from me.

    Ten thumbs down.

    • Anonymous

      They were probably using rat instead of mole, which is more common in Arizona than here on the east coast.

      • Trubs

        Mole is not an animal meat. It is a chocolate sauce.

  • [email protected]

    Kosher deli. Kosher deli. Kosher deli.
    (Or maybe just NY Kosher style.)

    • Fear Mongerer

      So’s Your Mom? Where are you? And Java House on Q Street? Time to expand! And Why Knot toy store in Alexandria? Come hither…

    • dcmom

      yes please – with yummy, chewy bagels

  • Lilnemo

    I used to like the Aleros at Dupont when I lived down that way (solid food, decent prices, good drinks, friendly staff), but not the Aleros at U Street when I moved closer to that one (small overpriced portions, overpriced drinks, and not so friendly staff). So “1 thumb up” if it is like the Dupont Alero, but “1 thumb down” if it is like the U Street Alero.

  • So

    I have eaten at the Dupont Circle and U Street locations of Alero. Each time — inadequate.

    I don’t say this as someone with a fetish for “authentic” cuisine. I can handle restaurants that innovate — like Rice’s neo-Thai food, for example — in ways that depart from the “authentic.” I just want it to be tasty.

    Alero is mediocre and then some. Not so much affirmatively bad as it is mediocre.

    So, no, I won’t be excited about their opening. I am glad the space isn’t empty, but I would be much happier if it were filled by a restaurant I can get excited about.

    I wouldn’t pitch a fit if my friends wanted to hang out there and get some of their potent drinks. But I wouldn’t otherwise make a date to go there.

  • Voyeur

    How is it a whiny little bitch always manages to be the first person to post a comment to these threads? Id speculate its b/c they’re socially ostracized and thus have no one to speak to all day long

    • the gup
  • dcmom

    On a positive note…they widened the sidewalk there and there could be an awesome outside space.

  • Shawn

    Yeah, it’s too bad this thread was started by someone with a negative attitude.

    Alero is tasty and affordable. I’ll say again that I’ve gone there and gotten $25 off with restaurant.com – good deal. It’s not really a “chain” .. it’s just a DC based restaurant group. A chain is like IHOP (which I would still be happy with in CH).

    We do have some unique “non-chain” restaurants in Columbia Heights, like Social, CommonWealth and The Heights. It’s not like every retail space is going to be filled with some James Beard award winning chef or something.

    I think it’s kind of snobby that people on this blog stick their noses up at any restaurant that has more than one location and especially at chains. I guess that’s why when ever I go into or look at Ruby Tuesday’s it seems to be filled with majority local black neighbors rather than yuppies/hipsters who I guess go to the fancier and cooler places instead. It just seems weird that people think they are “too good” for chain restaurants.

  • I’m surprised nobody has brought out “the market is god” argument yet, so I will. The market is god, and it has chosen to put Alero in that place.

    For the snobs who are holding out for something better than Alero, I say, keep holding your breath. If you don’t like it, build something better.

  • Anon

    Alero is good. Some very silly comments here.

    For good Mexican food I say try Los Cuates. It’s located in Georgetown so most of the folks here will probably just shit on it for that reason alone.


  • Anonymous

    Alero, I can’t wait. Welcome!


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