(Re)Judging Restaurants – Desperados

by Prince Of Petworth May 5, 2011 at 12:00 pm 33 Comments

We checked out Desperados right after they opened up in the old Polly’s space at 1342 U St, NW back in Aug. 10. Recently every time I walk by the space doesn’t seem to be too crowded (maybe it’s just my odd hours) so I thought I’d check in with folks. Any fans out there?

You can see their menu here.

Incidentally I’m liking that they’ve beautified the outside patio space a bit:

  • Anon

    I’ve gotten delivery burgers(which is awesome enough on its own) from them a couple times. The burgers were always great, and the fries arrive crisp and hot, not soggy. Pretty impressive!

    One thing to note is that your burger will continue to ‘cook’ in transit, so expect whatever you order to arrive one rank up, i.e. medium rare becomes medium

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been there 3 times – once just drinking and twice for food. As a bar it was great. As a restaurant they still have kinks – mainly in the service. They seemed to be really understaffed and it was painfully slow. However, their burger (when it finally arrived) was out of this world. I am a huge fan for that reason and will go back.

    For the record, it has always been crowded when I walk by.

    • dcmer610

      +1 on the service issues. Been a few times and on each occasion it took between 30 & 45 minutes to get my burger which is totally ridiculous. Burgers also ended up far overdone (as in well rather than the medium rare requested) and when I tried to address this with the service staff they were incredibly rude and told me it was the dark spices that made it so the meat was dark and not pink…uhm, no. Baked potatoes are awesome but there are definitely much better burgers elsewhere.

      • Anonymous

        See, I had the problems with the service, but the burger was at least executed perfectly. Much better than at BGR.

  • J

    nothing unique about them. You can get better burgers and fries elsewhere in the city. The location is the only good thing and thats if you don’t mind sitting outside on U street at rush hour.

  • Graham

    Also got delivery on Sunday and it came out great. Fries were hot and the burger was well cooked. Would definately order from them again. The owners also own Port of Call, a popular spot in New Orleans.

  • stacy

    I’ve had beers, burgers, wings, and one of their salads and it was alllll fantastic!! But then I got heartburn, which is probably from all the $4 champagne I drank at Pilar beforehand….*burp!

  • Neal – Som Records

    Gotten take out here three times and they’ve gotten it right every time (no small feat in a world of overcooked hamburgers). Nothing fancy but a pretty darn good burger.

  • Joe

    Never been in the place, but love the fact that I can get a giant burger, fries and some pretty good wings delivered in under 20 minutes. That and the online ordering make it a take out favorite, if they could bring a 6’er of beer along with it I’d never leave the house.

  • Anonymous

    The food is Excellent. Ten bucks for a burger with fries and a beer at happy hours is a pretty good deal too. Really one of the best burgers i’ve had in DC.

    The service? Our waiter was high as a kite.

  • EW

    Yep, I really like this place. Great 90’s throwback music, good food, and decent (friendly but yes, slow) service. Fried pickles are awesome, but their tap selection is a bit odd.

    • Petworthian

      “90’s throwback music”. God I’m getting old.

      • EW

        “speaking as a child of the 90’s…”

        • EV

          PEARL JAM RULES !!!

  • Eli

    I’ve been there a few times. No complaints and will go again.

  • Kalorini

    Ditto – went for the first time last weekend. ENORMOUS baked potatoes and they get a +1 for having a veggie burger on the menu.

    I was a little bummed out that the bartender/manager didn’t ask the bar patrons about which sports games were being watched before changing the channel from the Caps to some out-of-state basketball game. Seemed a little rookie-league of them.

  • R

    The food here is absolutely delicious. I’ve been here (and ordered delivery) more times than I want to admit. But sometimes the service is a little off, like the time they just didn’t put any toppings on my burger (that was supposed to have toppings) or when our table just never got the drinks we ordered. And sometimes, restaurant will be out of weird things. One time, it was a sauce for the burger. Another time, at brunch, it was french toast (really?)

  • Becket98

    The owner’s place, Port of Call in New Orleans (Nola) is amazing. One of the best burger joints out there – if not just for the burger then for the atmosphere and Monsoon rum drinks. It’s so popular there’s almost always at least a 1/2 hour wait for a seat. And the place only sells burgers and one type of steak.

    I tried out Desparado’s a while back hoping that it would serve the same type of burger as the owner’s do in Nola. I mean, the burger in Nola is a winner and how hard would it be to bring one of their chefs to Desparado’s and train the staff for a month (or a day) how to cook their Nola burger. But, for some reason, this place is very different than Port of Call. The burgers are not close to the one in Nola. I cannot figure out why this is and I am dissapointed.

    • Anonymous

      I do really like the atmosphere at Port of Call (and their drinks), but I thought the burgers were underwhelming. Maybe it was one of those instances of inflated expectations.

      Anyway, due to the hype from other comments, I might have to check this place out sometime.

  • Jeff

    So please tell me that they managed to get rid of that terrible smell that always permeated this place back when it was Polly’s.

    • Anonymous

      They did.

  • Anonymous

    Just an FYI for all ya’ll out there, the owner of this restaurant does not own port of call, although the restaurant is ‘loosely’ based off of it. That’s been a subject of much confusion, so thought I’d clear that up.

  • Q-Street

    Awesome burgers. I love that they deliver. I’ve gone 3 or 4 times since they opened and have had a great time.

  • Keepin’ it real

    Definitely great burgers, but I agree with the comments about the service. My friend and I always joke that there’s one guy in the back flipping one burger at a time over a hot plate.

  • Styglan1

    Good food, weird space – dark and uninviting in my mind. I don’t want to be a debby downer because that isn’t my thing but I bet the lack of atmosphere might be a big reason why it is always empty. But, nonetheless, good food and beer and nice employees. Good to hear that the delivery is awesome because I live close by and will be doing that.

  • snob

    These are interesting comments because I gotta tell you –our experience has been directly the opposite. We like everything about the place — the servers, the music, the atmosphere — BUT the burgers. In our experience they were never cooked to order; they were always either over done or not done well enough. What’s so strange about this is that burgers are pretty much the only thing on the menu — so you’d think they’d know how to cook them. We very reluctantly gave up on the place and have moved elsewhere.

  • gonzo

    Not a fan. been four or five times. nice to see a thousand same messages that are the same…good pr rep!

    To be specific, everything tastes the same (same seasoning). Burger wasn’t terrible. Service was. Not a fan of the fries either.

    Big plus–got rid of the nasty Polly stench. Aces from me on that point.

  • anon

    I went here once and even though it was completely empty it took FOREVER to get our food. So slow we almost gave up and left. My burger was overcooked, but girlfriend’s burger was very good.

  • Anonymous

    Can someone tell me what a desperado is? Note it is not a word in Spanish. (There is the word desESperado in Spanish.) It makes me think of that terrible, sensitive-ponytail-man Don Henle song, but I still don’t know what it means, or is supposed to mean, in English.

    • d

      You mean the Eagles. It was written by Don AND Glenn.

    • gonzo

      Witchy woman!

  • Jim on Randolph

    How far will they deliver?

  • wandafish

    I’ve been three times so far. First time was the weekend opener, and because they were still working out the kinks, they gave us burgers on the house. The last two times, my partner and I ordered so many drinks that one of our burgers was comped. Maybe they forgot to add it, or maybe they just want repeat customers. Either way, I’ll keep returning.


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