Using this dry cleaners is like playing Russian Roulette. You have a 1 in 6 chance that your clothing will come back still stained, 3 sizes smaller, missing or having cracked buttons, or otherwise damaged.
The service is uneven. The manager/owner (?) is always friendly and professional. But when the cat is away . . . okay, that is probably way too harsh. Many of the clerks are actually quite pleasant, even exceedingly nice. But since this place has opened several years ago, there always seems to be at least one terribly unpleasant clerk, with a perpetual frown, who barely acknowledges your existence. Yes, there are some clear issues of language, as very few of the clerks speak English well. This I understand completely and have no problem with. But I fear that some of the clerks do not realize how offensive something like pointing at the next person in line rather than simply greeting one with "may I help the next person in line," or "next," or something along those line can be. The habit of some of looking at you while carrying on conversations in Spanish with their co-workers leads the paranoid among us to think they just might be talking about you, and in any event, is impolite by any measure. The habit of several of the clerks of sliding one's change towards you rather than handing to you can be off-putting. True, I am always a bit disheveled in the morning, but I'd like to think that a clerk would not cringe with the prospect of, egads, placing something in my hands.
So why go here?!. You've heard of location, location, location. Try cheap, cheap, cheap. The money you save will in the end pay for all of the shrunken and damaged clothing. And besides, playing this version of Russian Roulette can make what is otherwise a ho-hum weekly chore perversely exciting.
Okay, truth be told, this was always a "second choice" for us. When our first choice Bethesda Tex-Mex places like Rio Grande or Austin Grill had lines that snaked around seemingly as far as halfway to Texas, and that was just to get on a wait list where it is not uncommon for your 3-year old to be heading off to college when your buzzer finally buzzes, Guapos has always proven to be a snake-free, wait-free Plan B. It is right on Wisconsin Avenue, tucked into a hotel, and literally hiding in plain sight. Fortunately, you have quite a bit of neon (garish for some, atmospheric for others, but after tasting their food, might as well be your north star for which your restaurant compass is adjusted) leading you in the right direction.
The service, almost always excellent, adds to a very festive atmosphere. Incidentally, this restuarant has probably the best separate semi-private areas that can accommodate large groups, even parties. The food experience begins with the obligatory chips and salsa. The salsa is terrific. Heavy on the onion, just the way i like it. Alas, the chips are not the apparent off-spring of those fancy, front and center, and fun to watch chip making machine/factories found in places like Rio Grande, and in my view suffer because of it. Not as warm, or delicate, or delicous. But no matter. It is almost humanly impossible not to smother these "sub-par" chips with salsa, and before you know it, you've asked for several more bowls of chips before the main course arrives. Speaking of main courses, I am hardly a gourment of any type, and I rarely stray from the combination plates (burritos, tacos, enchiladas) or fajita platters, but I am always enormously satisfied after every meal. Out-of-town guest from places that know their Tex-Mex always give Guapos a passing (and usually an A) grade.
If you factor into your dining experience atmosphere and service and convenience, you simply cannot go wrong with Guapos.
An experience, because what makes Max's so special is not the ice cream (okay, it is some of the best ice cream you'll ever have during your earthly existence), it is not the actual store (though the "Wall of Fame," picturing the famous (it is Washington after all, and the Vice President's home is within spitting distance) and the not-so-famous, but all with an ice cream cone in one hand and awith positive looks of glee is practically a landmark), it's not the t-shirts (though no true Washington Insider can go without one), but it's the charming and wonderfully talkative owner himself -- MAX (and his lovely wife, Marsha) -- who remembers everyone by name, never fails to make you smile, has a wonderful way about him, and yes, makes and serves up some of the best ice cream you'll ever know.
But that's about to change. As private school mania has reached a fever pitch in the D.C. area, more and more families are discovering this intimate, progressive and positively delightful school in the shadow of the Capitol. It is a school that is filled with ironies. Filled with elite (i.e., high powered and enormously successful) parents, but with an unmistakable anti-elitist attitude pervading the school. Filled with a "learning for learning's sake" approach, but producing graduates with exceedingly high aptitude tests and sending the graduates to the best high schools (and eventually colleges) in the area, if not the country. And last but not least, producing sweet-natured and compassionate kids who nonetheless possess the confidence and skills and toughness to survive and thrive in the world beyond.