One of the hardest things about being a Bitch is deciding who gets to review a restaurant’s brunch. We have a very elaborate process of calling dibs. If you’re new to the team, you may never have the opportunity to try the restaurants that more tenured Bitches reviewed in years past.
Case in point, Masa 14. I’ve heard from everyone and their mother how great it is. I’ve read Becca’s brunch review, and Cori Sue’s cocktail hour recap. But given that it’s been six years, I figured it was time to give Masa 14 another shot. Luckily, the 14th Street restaurant invited us in to try the menu, which has changed extensively since 2010. The Richard Sandoval restaurant continues to fuse Latin and Asian flavors with flair.
The first thing we noticed upon arrival was that it was packed. It was a generally young crowd, of except for one family with youngsters, which looked a bit out of place among 14th street’s hip flock. The decor embodies that vibe with red lights, exposed brick, and polished light wood.
Our waitress greeted us with water and menus. The easiest decision I made all day was to try the Masa mimosa. With house champagne, mango puree and blood orange, it was a little too easy to drink, if you know what I mean. My roommate Caitlin tried the lychee Bellini. The homemade lychee puree was a bit too pulpy for her taste so she quickly switched to mimosas. Luckily, we had opted for the bottomless deal.
Masa 14 offers an enticing bottomless deal. For $39, you can try any brunch plates, and choose from a limited selection of brunch cocktails. Coffee, tea, and juice are not included though, oddly enough.
I appreciated that the restaurant also offers lighter versions of some of your favorite brunch cocktails. Whether you’re watching your waistline, or just hate the feeling of that post-brunch sugar-high and crash, it’s nice to have the option of reduced sugar drinks.
Masa 14 also offers specialty drinks like strawberry lemonade and mojitos, which definitely warrant a trip back for happy hour. The rooftop turns into a hot spot for drinks at night while bopping along the bustling 14th Street corridor.
This is one of the rare restaurants with a bottomless deal where the quality of the food doesn’t decline once you start drinking. The plates are small, but not so small that two people cannot share. Any party larger than that should consider more than one of each dish.
We started with a seared salmon salad, with avocado, bacon, arugula, and wasabi. The salad, unfortunately, wasn’t very well-mixed. Moreover, the salmon was slightly warmer than room temperature which was off-putting. We were underwhelmed by this dish.
Next, we tried the smoked chicken hash with caramelized onions, chilies, chipotle Hollandaise yucca, and a poached egg on top. It was very flavorful and filling.
My favorite of the meal was the Harris Ranch beef barbacoa with wasabi black bean, smoked spinach fried eggs, and kimchi pico de gallo. The barbacoa meat was perfectly seasoned and cooked, but unfortunately that flavor was masked by the egg yolk so we had to eat it separately.
When it came to sides, the wok-fried home fries were basically a vegetarian version of the chicken hash but the bacon fried rice was tasty, with a mix of Spanish rice and bacon bits. Overall, all the flavor profiles were very similar. Good for consistency if you’re eating a lot of dishes, but I left feeling like I’d only eaten one very large dish. I would have liked something to cleanse the palate with a different taste— but perhaps that’s my own fault for ordering as we did.
On Sundays, Masa 14 has a post-brunch “aftermath” party on the rooftop with a DJ and more food and drinks for a proper Sunday Funday in style. We’ll definitely be back this spring for that.
The Bitches say: B+. Masa 14 is a trendy spot with a reasonable bottomless deal; it’s great for groups looking to booze on a budget.
Masa 14 serves brunch Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (202) 328-1414