“Joy of Fine Dining Guide” isÂ Martial Foodie‘s in-depth reviews of very favorite restaurants around the DC area and the nation in order to help diners maximize their culinary experiences.
What makes it fine: In the middle of seemingly nowhere right next to a laundromat and a gas station between Downtown Silver Spring and College Park, Maryland, Samantha’s is gem that serves comforting traditional Latin American cuisines covering Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean utilizing great ingredients.
Cost: $10.95-$45.85 (pre-tax/tip/alcohol per person).
The Occasion: For a hearty Tex-Mex meal or a fine seafood soup bowl worthy at a gourmet restaurant in Downtown DC, Samantha’s works nicely for a casual meal covering a vast culinary region of the Western Hemisphere that â€œsticks to your ribsâ€ and pleases your palate.
Recommended Dishes: The meal starts off with fresh thin tortilla chips with a warm salsa that feels like a cross between a tomato gazpacho and an Italian Romesco sauceâ€”smooth like the former yet deeper in flavors than the typical chopped tomato salad like the latter.
Samantha’s best dish is the Mariscada, a seafood soup of half lobster, shrimp, clams, mussels, scallops, and fish (typically salmon and/or mahi mahi) in a broth deep with shellfish flavor and served with rice.Â This generously-sized bowl entrÃ©e highlights the bounty of the sea, the pure flavors and hypnotic aroma.Â The lobster is bursting with sweet and tender meat, from the tail, claws, and swimmerets, so don’t be shy about getting your hands wet and siphoning every morsel of the crustacean and every last drop of the soup.Â The amazing Mariscada alone is worth the drive out to Samantha’s!
For a heartier selection, the Sizzling Fajitas Al Carbon is a multi-sensory experience.Â With molecular gastronomy popularizing aromatic airs, smokes, and bubbles, sometimes it is easy to forget that time-honored cooking methods such as searing marinated meats on a super hot skillet can provide ample olfactory pleasure as well as auditory joy in anticipation of juicy marinated beef (think slightly thicker version of Bulgogi) or crunchy-tender shell-on jumbo shrimp that caramelizes on the plate along with sliced onions.Â Rounding of this satisfying entrÃ©e are beans, soft tortillas, rice, guacamole, sour cream, and lettuce to add heartiness and cooling touches.
For those a bit more adventurous, try the Duck with Orange-Olive Sauce.Â The mostly de-boned half duck is luscious skin and a plethora flavorful meat topped with a hearty sauce lightly studded with olives.Â Steamed broccoli and carrots provide balance while a fried plantain adds a touch of sweetness and starchiness.
What to Avoid: The Paella was a disappointment.Â Go for the Mariscada instead.
Special Tips: Ordering any entrÃ©e with white rice rather than Spanish Rice allows your taste buds to maximally enjoy the delicate and assertive flavors equally.
For more information about Samantha’s, click here.