Michael Schlow Brings Tico to 14th Street
The wide open picture windows, the bustling crowd, and the lively vibe inside the new Tico Restaurant, which opened two weeks ago on 14th Street makes me feel like it's been there for years. It's hard to remember what was before this new expansive restaurant which sits next to the new Trader Joes, and The Wydown coffee bar which also opened its doors this week. Chef and Owner Michael Schlow shared that his intention was to feel as if the restaurant had always been there, while others businesses and shops had built around it. This has been accomplished.
The food at Tico cannot be pinned to one particular genre, but instead it is inspired by Schlow's travels across Latin America and Spain. The original Tico is based in Boston, along with his other restaurants Via Matta and Alta Strada, which are both Italian concepts. Schlow also has Cavatina in Los Angeles, and Pine Restaurant in New Hampshire. His decision to open in Washington was an easy one as he had family in the area, and his grandfather even owned a shoe store not far from where Tico is now located.
The interior is beautifully done with hand painted murals completed by none other than Michael Schlow's wife Adrienne, who is a mixed media artist based in Boston. The restaurant comes together with a menu filled with shareable plates, a sizable drink list, and of course glass porron wine pitchers for those tables that choose to get a little rowdy (ours did.)
The first thing that jumped off the menu was the crispy Manchego cheese with spicy-pomegranate honey sauce. Tamed crisp pillows of cheese with a perfect sweet dipping sauce started the meal off right. The tuna ceviche included a light touch of serrano peppers creating a hint of heat, and the pea dish with bacon, paprika, lemon zest, and topped with a soft egg is not to be missed.
The sweet corn with smoked bacon, jalapenos, and Thai basil is worth two orders, and the char on the octopus with chickpeas was nicely done. I never say no to macaroni and cheese, and this version included serrano ham, Manchego, and crispy breadcrumbs. While not traditional, I favored the edamame tacos with tomatillo salsa and yogurt, but you also can't go wrong with the two textured beef.
Tico is off to an impressive start, and Michael Schlow was a generous and gracious host. With Chef Mike Isabella eating at the bar while we were dining, it's clear he has already won the hearts of many in the food community. Schlow shared how welcoming the Washington restaurant chefs have been, and how happy he is to have joined our market. Now the major outstanding question in my head that remains: when will he be opening an Italian concept in town? Only time will tell.