CRANKY. That's how I feel when successful people nonchalantly swirl four-olive martinis while decorated in ass-loving pants, the asses therein keeping the beat, thumping out signals to neighbors who thread their Friday nights with Lycra. Also: cheap. I cannot help but deconstruct the cost of my $7 highball. For that same $7, I could be getting very fucked up, sans Lycra, on say, Manischewitz Loganberry Sweet Wine. Seven dollars buys two bottles, and two bottles of Manischewitz is two bottles too many. But let's say I went to a Washington state liquor store and purchased a bottle of Bombay Sapphire. For seven bucks I could drink nearly HALF a bottle of the smoothest gin, which could bring about a pleasant state of unconsciousness--without a crowd of the kind of men who could make a V-neck look formal.

After procuring a freak table in the bar area at Tango, my date--Mr. Mustache--and I exchanged knowing looks. Tango is the hot new place on Capitol Hill, located in the renovation that replaced the Ol' Apple Theater--another reason to be grumpy. We could be sitting among old men jacking off. After all the looks and eye-rolling, we ordered the aforementioned pricey drinks in an effort to enjoy ourselves. And to get drunk. Food always tastes better somewhere between tipsy and shout out/sentimental drunk.

Begrudgingly, Mr. M and I admitted to each other several times during the meal that the food was quite delicious--even extraordinary, in the case of the meat that religions are founded on: PORK. Much of my opinion of a restaurant is based on portions in relation to price. This cheap attitude generally interferes with my enjoyment of tapas: five dollars here, 12 dollars there, and still my belly rumbles. Tango will cost you, but the chefs are gentlemen--they do not skimp on the meat. Ensalada Caribe ($9), a "spice-rubbed duck confit shredded and tossed in a warm Jamaican vinagreta with seasonal greens and toasted pumpkin seeds" (yes, I copied that description straight from the menu, and yes, it says "vinagreta"), had about a 1:1 duck to greens ratio, which warmed my cold, cranky heart a bit, as did the rioja I drank. The wine list is encyclopedic, which was overwhelming, then disheartening. I wanted to drink, not learn!

Fortunately, our waiter was an understanding and gracious man, and guided us from wine selection to restroom location. But back to the duck. Delicious! Worth $9. But hey, is Jamaica close to Spain? I felt confused, and ordered another drink.

On to cheese. We tasted the Torta de Higos ($8.50), a mix of sweet goat cheese, pine nuts, and grilled figs served with Artesanal bread. Too sweet!

I brushed by an acquaintance's table and mooched a bite of Peras Azul ($9.50), poached pear served with Cabrales blue cheese in a reduced Spanish Xerés sauce. Also too sweet. What was going on here? I felt like I'd missed the punch line. Had the bitterness of my soul affected my tongue? Waiterman! Another martini, dry, please. An hour and a half into our meal, I had to leave to buy cigarettes--I was that nervous.

The Moqueca de Peixe ($8.50), Brazilian coconut and seasonal fish stew simmered with vegetables, mild spices and lime, scallops, squid, clams, halibut, prawns, and lord knows what else, was truly enjoyable and well worth eight-fitty. Fuck. Goddam young urban professionals and their good food. I chain-smoked, hoping to make my tongue immune and perhaps produce a dry hacking cough--something, anything, to inhibit my enjoyment of this meal. This couldn't be happening to me and Mr. M. Then Barry White chukka-chakka-ed through the air. And our entrées appeared.

Mr. Mustache's halibut ($19), a special, was not especially memorable, but my plate of pork (another special) resonated through-out my entire being. At $17, this dish was ONE OF THE MOST INSPIRED PLATES OF PORK I have ever had the pleasure of consum-ing. Smoked tenderloin alongside a pork chop atop polenta, crisp green tomatoes, and red peppers, graced with an orgasm-producing mole sauce. This combination of subtle smokiness, succulent porkiness, and deep, deep, dark chocolate laced with fire brought me to my knees. Mr. Mustache and I rubbed thighs under the table.

Later, I concluded that my enjoyment of this meal had as much to do with the soundtrack as the spices. But still, in the light of day, the pork held up. Tango's treatment of chop and loin is why God fears pork, and why I am riddled with guilty pleasure, even now.

Tango Tapas Restaurant & Lounge

1100 Pike St, 583-0382. Open daily:

dinner 5:30-11 pm, full bar 5 pm-2 am. $$.

Price Scale (per entrée)

$ = $10 and under; $$ = $10-20; $$$ = $20 and up

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