The brightly colored trucks serving international food across Washington, D.C. now have a place to call home, as Sâuçá has opened up a decidedly immobile restaurant on Columbia Pike.
Sâuçá has been inviting diners to “eat the world” since its launch in 2009, and has auspiciously positioned itself just outside of Bailey’s Crossroads in Arlington, amongst a plethora of restaurants catering to customers with international tastes. And with a healthy dose of orange and yellow paint, where once stood a diner now stands a multinational amalgamation of terra-cotta floors, updated diner booths and stools, computer workstations, futuristic chrome-like dinettes, and even a large, carved-wood Indian day bed. Though beyond eclectic in décor, these physical elements of the “Republic of Sâuçá,” as it is called, all come together thanks to a clever and equally eclectic menu.
The menu represents six different regions of the world with its salads, soups, sides and saucas, which are oversized tacos made with fluffy pita bread – a sturdier option to tortilla, which is certainly needed considering how much meat and sauce are stacked on top of them. From the European Polpette Marinara, which stacks turkey meatballs in marinara sauce atop the bread, to the Asian Pork Bah Mi, which combines pork and pickled vegetables, diners are invited to trot the globe with their tastebuds.
And to be, in the very sense of the word, international, this restaurant has not neglected its home country, and offers up ground turkey chili and a buffalo chicken sauca to fit the North American bill. The buffalo chicken wrap is a delightful blend of tastes and textures. Thin-sliced chicken pieces coated in a spicy, tangy sauce mingle with the sweetness of caramelized onions, and the whole concoction is drizzled with an ideal blue cheese sauce to cool the dish’s heat. The two sauces, rather than competing, are nestled harmoniously inside the pita, playing off of one another and making each new bite an interesting combination of the two powerful tastes.
Those wishing to travel south of the border might try the Mexicali Fish Taco, in which hunks of fish are slathered in chili sauce and a heaping helping of mango pico de gallo. The sweetness of the mango doesn’t steal the show, and simply provides a counterpoint to the deliciously savory chili sauce, which is matched in heat by flavor.
The restaurant also caters to its non-meat-eating gustatory travelers with two vegetarian options, The Medi Vegi and the SOB Veggie, which bring ingredients like hummus and black beans into the mix to replace the main protein element of the dishes.
Meat tacos cost $8, and vegetarian tacos cost $7, and are available as meals for $3 more when combined with a soda and any of the restaurant’s 10 side dishes, which again represent the various regions of the world. While there is a regionally appropriate correlation for each sauca on the side dish menu, most diners opt to mix and match, creating a cross-national feast on their plates. Of note on the side dish menu is the bacon coleslaw, in which the smokiness of bits of bacon infuses a light dressing that coats crisp pieces of cabbage and other vegetables. Even the side dishes that fall flat – the curry potato salad and the Parmesan fries, which seem no more superior for the special treatment than an everyday order of potato salad or fries – aren’t completely disappointing.
In addition to these offerings, most of which are available on the restaurant’s food trucks, Sâuçá also serves charcoal fired chicken and a Sunday special roasted pork dish, but the pinnacle of the non-truck offerings is the Toffle, which rounds out the otherwise single-item European menu. The Toffle is a super-sweetened Belgian waffle served with two toppings from a list with such dessert favorites as Nutella, whipped cream, and cream cheese icing. At $4 for this highly decadent and highly shareable item, the Toffle is great way to end this international culinary journey with Paradise as a final destination.
Sâuçá is located at 4707 Columbia Pike, Arlington. For more information, call 703-979-0020 or visit eatsauca.com. Restaurant hours are Sunday – Thursday: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Friday – Saturday: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.