Best mexican food in dc washingtonian

The best Mexican food in DC is found at Tacos El Gordo on 14th St. It's a family-owned restaurant that has been around since the 1960s, and it's known for its delicious tacos de queso,
Best mexican food in dc washingtonian

Washington has all the time had scattered pockets of excellent Mexican meals, whether or not restorative bowls of morning menudo in Riverdale’s Little Mexico neighborhood or lengua-filled avenue tacos in Hyattsville. However these had been the exceptions in a panorama blighted with sour-cream-soaked Tex Mex and chemical-green margaritas. “Hate to break it to you,” we’d shrug to new transplants from LA or Houston.

However in the previous few years, at the same time as political wars raged over simply how welcoming our southern border must be, the Beltway’s culinary wall got here down. With Mexico Metropolis having turn into the journey vacation spot of the second, restaurateurs seized on our love of all issues swaddled in tortillas—and sided with a couple of bottom-line-boosting margs. Cooks started to see the masa rounds as the final word clean canvas. A brand new wave of Mexican eating in DC was born.

Reading: Best mexican food in dc washingtonian

We now have conventional taquerias and nearly comically outlandish ones. Upscale mezcalerias and a Latin-focused liquor retailer. Swank eating rooms and concrete mom-and-pops. We even, child you not, have a taco omakase expertise.

Right here, our 17 favourite newcomers.

Bandit Taco

Tons of eating places promote tacos, however few make them as completely as these counter-order outlets. You received’t discover something fussy, and drinks are restricted to Mexican sodas and Topo Chico glowing water. What shines is chef Mauricio Flores Turcios’s consideration to element. Corn or flour tortillas are warmed on a griddle and stuffed with succulent meats comparable to al pastor pork with charred pineapple, or braised carnitas. Every bundle is showered with minced cilantro, onion, or julienned radish. (Turcios honed his knife abilities over 14 years with restaurateur Richard Sandoval). Not the whole lot is conventional street-style—the very good crispy shrimp taco will get successful of togarashi spice. Search for an Alexandria location subsequent yr. 1946 New Hampshire Ave., NW; 4629 forty first St., NW.

Buena Vida/Tacos, Tortas & Tequila (Arlington)

This Clarendon eating room has the identical ethereal, beachy look as its Silver Spring counterpart, however that’s the place the similarities finish. The brand new location—which additionally has an outpost of the taco-and-torta store TTT—has a completely completely different menu spearheaded by chef Gerardo Vázquez Lugo, whose Mexico Metropolis restaurant is ranked amongst Latin America’s finest. His elevated plates embody “dry soup” fabricated from vermicelli noodles which have soaked up a chili-rich broth in addition to sea bass coated in an addictive sauce of floor pumpkin seeds, tomatillo, inexperienced chili, and white wine. Even guacamole tastes extra elegant because of earthy-sweet olive oil rather than lime juice. 2900 Wilson Blvd., Arlington.

Buena Vida/Tacos, Tortas & Tequila (Silver Spring)

An all-you-can-eat Mexican menu might simply default to mass-produced tortillas with low cost proteins and fillers comparable to rice and beans. However Buena Vida doesn’t skimp relating to its limitless small-plates-and-drinks deal ($49 an individual at dinner). Queso fundido is upgraded with roasted mushrooms and apricot chutney, whereas tostadas are lined in spicy tomato sauce with shrimp and crab. Plus, all of the tortillas for the tacos? Handmade every day from natural masa. For a extra informal meal, downstairs sister restaurant TTT focuses on tacos and tortas morning by way of night time. 8407 Ramsey Ave., Silver Spring.

Chaia (Chinatown)

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Vegetarian—to not point out vegan—tacos can style like afterthoughts. Not so at Chaia, the farmers-market stand turned Georgetown taqueria that added a department in Chinatown early this yr. Each meatless outlets are identified for house-made corn tortillas full of zingy seasonal mixtures comparable to Moroccan carrots, chipotle yogurt, and mint. The newer location is in an even bigger, breezier area and has an expanded menu (tlayudas, quesadillas, ancient-grain bowls). To drink, go for a draft Paloma or house-made shrub. 615 I St., NW.

Crispy skate, Coca-Cola-marinated carnitas, and fried-shrimp tacos at Tacos, Tortas & Tequila.

Cielo Rojo

Blue, purple, yellow—you by no means fairly know what shade tortilla you’re going to get whenever you stroll into this tiny counter-service operation in a former Subway. Think about {that a} signal of high quality: Chef/co-owner David Perez mills his personal Oaxacan corn—the colours and varieties change and generally swirl collectively—and fills his thinly pressed disks with an array of alluring, fastidiously ready toppings. Beer-and-orange-braised carnitas are splendidly crispy, whereas hen is stewed in a dusky mole. Better of all are the vegetable tacos: finely chopped cactus, tequila-stoked mushrooms, and potatoes threaded with poblanos. 7056 Carroll Ave., Takoma Park.


Head to the colourful rooftop—lined and heated in chilly climate—to finest channel this taco joint’s coastal Baja vibes. The al fresco bar serves up pitchers of margaritas and mezcal outdated fashioneds to a celebration soundtrack. The meals menu is sufficiently small that two folks can simply order your complete factor, beginning with a strong guac and a complete cob of elote. Tacos are stuffed so fats they’re nearly unwieldy. Our favorites of the six choices: citrus-braised pork shoulder and super-crisp fried fish with purple cabbage and lime mayo. 1905 Ninth St., NW.

Gringos and Mariachis (Park Potomac)

Because the title hints, this buzzy Montgomery County cantina isn’t aiming for authenticity. (The Pietrobono brothers’ different ventures, apart from one other G&M in Bethesda, are Italian-focused.) A few of the finest finds embody chorizo-stuffed dates, duck nachos, and honey-glazed-shrimp tacos. (We’ve had higher al pastor and hen mole elsewhere.) The roomy area boasts a patio and indoor/out of doors bar—all the higher for sampling the numerous tasty agave and whiskey cocktails. 12435 Park Potomac Ave., Potomac.


This cozy restaurant, tucked on a Woodley Park facet avenue, goals larger than on a regular basis enchiladas. Chef Miguel Pizarroso, an area by means of Bolivia, opened the place final yr together with his companions from adjoining District Kitchen. Graze on antojitos comparable to effervescent queso fundido with native chorizo and avocado-tomatillo salsa, or vibrant shellfish ceviche. Standout entrées embody grilled skirt steak marinated in achiote, citrus, and garlic, or butterflied branzino—crunchy pores and skin on one facet, vibrant swaths of cilantro and red-chili adobo on the opposite—served with avocado and heat tortillas. 2609 twenty fourth St., NW.


It’s all concerning the tortillas at this full of life Columbia Heights restaurant from Mexico Metropolis natives and siblings Alfredo and Jessica Solis. Handkerchief-thin rounds of masa, pressed to order, enfold scorching, stretchy queso fundido, or lengua and carnitas for tacos. For one thing completely different, strive the steamed “basket” tacos slicked in a guajillo sauce and full of potatoes, beans, chicharrón, and chorizo. Alfredo—a dishwasher turned chef/restaurateur—excels at unfussy classics: lime-dressed tilapia ceviche, hen in a mole rojo gravy, and beneficiant $8 margaritas. 3714 14th St., NW.

Poca Madre’s shareable tomahawk rib eye with bone marrow and salsa.

Mission (Navy Yard)

Consider this 12,000-square-foot sizzling spot abutting Nationals Park as a sports activities cantina. (The smaller authentic location is in Dupont.) Two flooring and a 150-foot bar imply there’s loads of room to let the draft margaritas fly—they’re bottomless at brunch—and replenish on drink-friendly fare comparable to ancho wings, elote-style cauliflower, crispy Buffalo-shrimp tacos, and churro bites. With dishes comparable to cornflake-crusted-chicken mole, you’ll be able to inform that chef Roberto Hernandez isn’t angling for authenticity—however like everybody else right here, he’s having enjoyable. 1221 Van St., SE.

Mi Vida

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A large tree sculpture with Technicolor blooms and multi-level patios with waterfront views greet diners at this fashionable mod-Mex vacation spot on the Wharf. However the restaurant is greater than only a fairly perch to drink (though mango margaritas and mezcal cocktails served in skull-shaped mugs make {that a} tempting choice). Braised-brisket enchiladas smothered in spicy mole negro are a must-try dish, and seafood is one other large attraction, because of crab-and-shrimp empanadas and a tuna ceviche in chipotle-orange marinade. 98 District Sq., SW.

Poca Madre

For a very long time, Mexican tremendous eating in DC meant doing it up at Oyamel. Now chef Victor Albisu is serving a contemporary spin on mod-Mex in his sultry 68-seat eating room. As is the present development, Mexico Metropolis is a supply of inspiration. Mezcal outdated fashioneds are kissed with foie gras honey, masa is became chorizo-and-shrimp dumplings, and tacos are served omakase-style in a 12-course tasting of the chef’s whims. That stated, we frequently gravitate towards the menu’s easier pleasures: frozen-to-order cocktails, vibrant snapper aguachile, and family-style duck al pastor with contemporary herbs, pineapple salsa, and house-made tortillas. 777 I St., NW.

Señor Ramon Taqueria

This widespread Leesburg-based taco cease has spawned two offshoots within the final two years—one in Chantilly and one other in Sterling’s Crooked Run Brewery. “Señor Ramon” is definitely Damian Dajcz, an Argentinean chef who focuses on large, daring flavors on overstuffed tortillas. We are saying embrace the eccentricity and go for his namesake taco, overflowing with steak, chorizo, pickled onions, bitter cream, and pepper jelly, or the Lola, piled with carnitas, corn salsa, and chipotle aïoli. You don’t want anything, however you need to begin with the corn nuggets—ethereal, hushpuppy-like puffs paired with cilantro-cream dip. 22455 Davis Dr., Sterling; 4500 Daly Dr., Chantilly.

Taco Bamba (Fairfax)

Every of Victor Albisu’s taquerias has a character—and menu—of its personal, however all 5 are sure by a few issues: blaring ’90s rock and a taco menu that’s cut up between street-food classics (oil-slicked chorizo, savory barbacoa) and late-night innovations (who’s up for a ramen taco?). This newest department, a slender carryout that stays jammed with George Mason college students, revels particularly within the latter class. One taco holds hen nuggets, fries, and tangy-sweet sauce; one other is filled with barbecue bacon and nacho cheese. Not everybody might be into it, however we certain are. 10629 Braddock Rd., Fairfax.

Taqueria Habanero (School Park)

The fast slap of freshly pressed tortillas hitting the griddle is the very first thing you discover when you stroll into the expansive suburban arm of this Columbia Heights favourite. The prepare dinner forming the rounds of masa by hand works with spectacular velocity—a great factor, as a result of the taco orders fly. We like them finest full of barbacoa goat, carnitas, or a mixture of chopped cactus and onion. Don’t miss the intense, contemporary aguas frescas, with fruits that change by the day. 8145 Baltimore Ave., School Park.

Taqueria Los Compadres

Couple Juan Carlos and Nelly Romero convey flavors from their native Mexico Metropolis and Puebla, respectively, to this tiny Mount Nice joint. All the things is made caringly from scratch—from widespread cucumber-mint agua fresca to near-creamy tamales and a mole poblano with 4 kinds of chilies. Though the menu is intensive, it is a taqueria firstly. Home-made tortillas overflow with lamb barbacoa or bits of pig’s head. Don’t miss the numerous vegetarian choices, both. Tacos full of squash blossom, huitlacoche, or a complete chile relleno are amongst our favorites. 3213 Mount Nice St., NW.

Urbano 116’s enchiladas and fried-chicken tacos.

Urbano 116

Chef Alam Méndez Florián already has successful restaurant in Mexico Metropolis. Now, at this stark, exposed-brick eating room, he’s introducing Previous Towners to the pleasures of real-deal mole (notably good on a young Cornish hen) and Oaxacan specialties comparable to plantain molotes stuffed with goat cheese. Fried-chicken tacos and lager-dashed queso may appear as if Méndez Florián is simply taking part in to the gang, however we couldn’t assist however order seconds of every. 116 King St., Alexandria.

This text seems within the Might 2019 concern of Washingtonian.

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