A few years back when my wife and I were dating, we were in the Fair Lakes area with my visiting parents and decided to give this local restaurant a try over the nearby franchise spots, and we were pleasantly surprised to find an upscale but not overly pretentious serving well-presented but affordable dishes. A few weeks back we found ourselves in the same scenario - at Fair Lakes, and looking for something outside the band of chains in the area, and remembered The Blue Iguana. Unfortunately, the vibe there has changed considerably, and while it was a still a good dining experience, it was vastly different from the place we visited many years ago.
It seems that The Blue Iguana had turned into a dive bar disguised as a restaurant. It was 9PM on July 3rd, and it was packed. And from experience, I know how packed "locals" dive bars are on the night before a holiday. (Trust me, I spent many years calling similar establishments in Gaithersburg a second home) My wife and I arrived around 9PM to a packed patio of bar patrons, a somewhat busy bar, and an empty restaurant where a kind older gentleman quickly seated and served us. By ourselves, the wife and I dined in somewhat peace, except for fun bits of people-watching as the drunk patrons stumbled in to use the patio.
But despite the change of atmosphere, the food was still pretty good, although not as great as we remembered it. Entrees are reasonably priced, but don't come with a salad. There is no "side salad" to order, but the $7 Spinach salad was actually rather nice - they didn't skimp on the size and the beet vinaigrette was tasty. My wife got the salmon with mushroom risotto and spinach and was happy. I got the pork chop special and was mixed - the pork chops were a tad small and fatty for the price, but well cooked, and the potatoes were mighty tasty.
Beer nerds - keep in mind that the bar side is a dive bar, so don't expect much on tap here except for national "craft" brands. I wasn't drinking that night, but I think I would have passed even if I wanted to. There didn't seem to be anything interesting on tap, not even Fat Tire.
I'd maybe give them 3.5 stars, but I think the food is a bit dated and pricy for what you get, and this place has a confused identity - dive bar on one side, while trying to maintain the image of a niceish restaurant on the other side. They need to go all-in on one or the other.
Only judging the late night menu and bar area after 9pm. Never eaten in the restaurant.
Sat in the bar area and ordered chicken tenders and wine. Terrible! The chicken tenders had so many fatty pieces and the wine is awful. Cheap and old. The bar area is pretty small, especially when they have a dj. It seems like a dive bar that has a loyal following of about 10-15 people. After 11pm it gets wild, being sarcastic here...the 3 women in the bar just get drunk and start to dance to the best (worst) of the 80's...it was definitely entertaining though! Would never, ever go back.
This is an update to my review of several months ago. Â Rumor has it that the Blue Iguana has been sold. Â Transfer will take place sometime around July 1. Â The new owner will make some changes. Â Close the restaurant for a short time while some renovations are made, both inside and out. Â (The patio area could be really special if they spent some money on sprucing it up. Â Would make the Iguana a better draw for both the restaurant and the bar crowd.) Perhaps changes coming in the kitchen, too. Â Which wouldn't be a bad thing since the menu has gotten tired over the past couple of years. Â So, we'll see what happens. Â An old favorite at a crossroads.Review Source: