Tucked away on a side street hidden underneath the shadow of the DCUSA Complex in Columbia Heights, Los Hermanos provides a wide array of authentic Dominican cuisine in a cafeteria style environment. When I walked in, I was greeted by one of the "hermanos," who was quite helpful in discussing the various braised meats, rice dishes, and sides that are displayed in chafing dishes on the countertop.
I ordered braised oxtail, a braised chicken dish, rice and beans, and "mangu," a mash of unripened plaintains. The mangu was a standout...a deeply savory dish that was rib-sticking and hearty. It was classic comfort food. The rice and beans were quite nice as well. The braised oxtail was delicious...the meat was falling off the bones and was slicked over with delicious bits of rendered fat. The chicken, on the other hand, while good, was less exciting. The sauce did not permeate the meat like it did with the oxtail, so the chicken, especially the bits of white breast meat I had, seemed under-seasoned. Other dishes my dining companions raved about were the yucca and the goat dish. The tripe stew looked quite appealing as well. On the other hand, one of my friends thought his pork was dry. My takeaway...go with the less traditional cuts of meat when you order your food. It stands to reason that you want a tougher cut of meat that has the inherent flavor to hold up under the long braising.
The atmosphere is friendly if spartan. As mentioned, service is cafeteria style and you bring your plate from the counter to your table. Unfortunately, the music is played a little too loudly for my taste, making conversation difficult at times (and there were not many people in the restaurant while I was there, so ambient conversation noise was not the issue). Also, the food gets a little cool sitting in the chafing dishes. But, all in all, this restaurant is worth a return trip.