Despite her initial attribution of paper mill odors to me, Yvette Rivera remains one of my favorite people. Besides being an excellent attorney, thoughtful, and an all-around good person, Yvette is an expert in Caribbean pork — Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican — you name it. Yvette recently sent me a text about Los Hermanos, a Dominican restaurant, and my immediate, brain stem response was, “Let’s go!” And, oh, I am glad that I did. I found what is easily the best pork I’ve ever had in Washington.
I actually had enjoyed some of the food from Los Hermanos at my good friends Poli Marmolejos’ and Laura Cordero’s reception for their daughter Sofia’s college graduation. I loved it, and the only thing that stopped me from rushing right over, other than having a mind like a steel sieve, was the location. Los Hermanos is near ground zero of one of the DC government’s monumentally stupid urban planning decisions: the placement of a cluster of Big Box stores — stores at which people typically buy much more than they can carry on foot or on the bus or the subway, and so need to drive); in a dense area of apartment buildings and condos, all built well before even visionaries dreamed of providing parking; and at a five points intersection with no right turn on red or, as a practical matter, green because of the heavy pedestrian traffic. Cars move at a crawl, when they manage to move at all. On the bright side, as drivers inch along in a forlorn effort to get through the area or find a parking space, they have ample opportunity to send text messages and to watch movies on their iPhones.
I’ve always tried to avoid the area, but that has changed since I went to Los Hermanos with Yvette. It’s a small place, but its fame has spread widely enough that visiting baseball players have their lunches catered by Los Hermanos when they play the Nationals. Could there be a better endorsement for a Dominican restaurant?
You should head on over right away, but be warned that there is no menu. Los Hermanos serves food cafeteria-style, and the various dishes aren’t labeled. The servers will identify things for you, of course. All of it looked good, but I have an instinct for roast pork, which I spotted right away. I ordered the rice with pigeon peas and topped it with black beans, and then the roast pork with onions.
As you can see, the portions are huge. And you can see that the pork was moist and appealing. You’ll have to use your imagination, though, even to approach how rich and flavorful it was. Oh, my goodness! The rice and peas and beans also were top notch. It was an early lunch — 11:30, to avoid the long lines — and I had eaten a late breakfast, but I went through all that food without slowing down, and loving every bite.
Yvette, who is a non-doctrinal vegetarian now, ordered what appeared to be a chicken, plantain, and yucca soup without the chicken, some rice with pigeons peas, and habichuelas on the side.
Yvette asked for her meal to go, so that she could save the anticipated leftovers for later without asking for a doggy bag. Yvette is tiny and a light eater, one who when we worked together was always on the losing end of the ironclad split-the-check evenly rule. At Los Hermanos, though, she did justice to her order, and left just enough that the to-go box wasn’t a farce.
I had a bottled lemonade and Yvette had guanabana juice, which tastes like a combination of pineapple and banana and something else tropical. We mused over what kind of cocktail you could make with it, and decided it wouldn’t go best with rum, but it would go pretty well with most things.
When we went, Yvette was a furloughed federal employee and hadn’t been paid since her trips to the Cotswolds and Turks and Caicos, so I generously picked up the tab. It was less than $20. Think of that — a great meal for two in Washington, DC, for $20. If you go to Los Hermanos, all your wildest dreams will come true.
All of the food at Los Hermanos looked delicious, and if I lived closer I would return regularly and try everything, moving down the line of entrees meal by meal. As it is, it will be a struggle not to order the pork. And actually, I could probably find a parking space five or six blocks away, outside gridlock, and walk. Or I could even transfer from my subway line to the Green Line. Whatever it takes, I will go back, and so should you. It is a great place and has easily the best pork I’ve ever eaten in or near DC. If there’s better, let me know and I’ll try it.
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