81 Comment

  • El Tamarindo

  • I like the food at Lauriol Plaza. They have always been out of the Calamari when I go there except one night and it was on point! Some of their food is pretty standard and nothing special but then some of it has been great. I can’t remember what it is called now but I got an amazing salad with tons of stuff in it and just the right amount of dressing. And of course, who doesn’t love a Mangorita!

    And I do love some El Limeno-awesome papusas and fantastic fajitas!

    Great PoP, now I’m freaking starving for some Mexican food!!! …and no where close to anything good that I know of 🙁

  • Moroni and Brothers doesn’t just do pizza well!

  • I would agree that Lauriol Plaza is overrated, but I do LOVE their Brazilian salad. I haven’t been able to find one anywhere else that is as good.

    Otherwise, I’m all for El Tamarindo and El Limeno!

  • MIXTEC !!!!!

  • taqeria DF

  • Oh you all have been missing out…Ercilia’s on the corner of Mt. Pleasant and Irving.

  • I too like Limoneo. Alero also does a stand up job, though I am a little less pleased with their ‘fancy’ version on U than the standard fare in Dupont or Cleveland Park. Though I get them confused, I think it is called La Lomalita Dos (all the Hill Mex joints have very similar names), the one near the Library of Congress on Penn, is pretty good as well.

  • Big fan of the twin burrito at El Tamarindo. La Lomita Dos El Limeno are good too. My favorite, though, is Alero in Cleveland Park.

  • Haydee’s in Mt. Pleasant is great!

  • Lauriol Plaza has the best chips and salsa in the city (imo), and decent margaritas, which to me are the most important factors for decent Mexican. I agree that a lot of the entrees aren’t special, but if you stick to basics like enchiladas or quesadillas, and eat about three bowls of chips and salsa, it’s pretty good stuff.

    That said, I’m always on the lookout for a place to rival LP’s chips and salsa, since I’d rather go to a place less overrun by yuppies.

    I remember La Loma on Capitol Hill being really good, but it’s not really convenient to where we live, so that’s usually a deal-breaker.

    Guapo’s is also tasty, but I’m not really that into the atmosphere there either. I keep hoping a relatively small, locally owned place will open up somewhere between U St. and Petworth with awesome chips and salsa and a quality margarita at a reasonable price. Maybe I’ll get lucky and the new Cafe Salsa on 14th St. won’t suck, but I’m skeptical given where it’s opening. Really, the perfect spot would be 11th St. near RedRocks and Wonderland.

  • Taqueria Distrito Federal, at 14th and Oak, hands down! And Luis is opening a new taqueria in Petworth soon.

  • haydees in MtP takes the cake.

  • Distrito Federal is the best mexican restaurant in town. No question.

  • I also like Pepitos Bakery II in Adams Morgan. My only complaint about El Limeño was that their tacos seemed too dry the last time I was there. A little salsa and a lot of lime solved that problem, though.

  • I’m so happy that other people like El Tamarindo! Also, I’d like to endorse El Sol on 9th between U and T.

  • Mixtec needs more love. I remember my father would bike me over the bridge to Adams Morgan when I was a kid and we would eat there. Mom would get mad that Dad was bringing me to the ghetto for food. (my how times have changed) . better than the “fake stuff” you get elsewhere he would tell me.

  • Well, I live with a Mexican woman who knows food very well, so I may be a bit too snobby about this, but . . .

    Most of the “Mexican” places in D.C. are NOT serving Mexican food, up to and including Lauriol Plaza. Usually it’s Tex-Mex at best, or basically American food, burritos and orange cheese with chips and salsa to start. Or hard shell tacos.

    If you want really good Mexican food, you have to go to the suburbs where the Mexicans live, like Riverdale for example. Try the tacquerias out there.

    Near us, Casa Oaxaca in Adams Morgan does pretty good upscale and the D.F. on 14th Street does alright for tacos and tortas.

    For Salvadoran food, Rinconcito across from the Giant has some damn good pupusas.

  • aren’t most of the referenced places salvadoran and not mexican? el limeno, haydees, el tamarindo, ercilia’s, moroni and brothers?

  • Another vote for Pepitos. Best tacos in town. Haydee’s is a good go-to, and Ercilia’s has awesome yuca con chicharonnes. I found DF intolerably dry. Alero is glorified Chevy’s and I just refuse to go to Lauriol out of principle.

  • Anon: Yes, but he asked for Latino SLASH Mexican. Hard to come by straight up Mexican outside of the west coast.

  • true, but in DC it makes more sense to just ask for your favorite salvadoran place, as there aren’t many mexican places, and the majority seem to be salvadoran. don’t get me wrong, i love salvadoran food, just think it deserves to be called what it is.

  • I love the brunch at Banana Cafe on 8th and E SE, and that Salvadorian place on that block, Las Placitas, I think, has excellent salsa and veggies. I’m actually looking for a place with killer nachos.

  • Lauriol is awesome. All the trendy hiptards pretend not to (or decide not to), because it’s popular. Same reason everyone claims to hate McDonalds or Starbucks… but then sneaks in and orders their guilty pleasure. Lauriol is the most fun restaurant in the city. El Tamarindo is disgusting… yelpers pumped that place up because it was the anti-Lauriol, but the food blows and it’s dirty.

  • Taqueria DF is where it’s at. I wish their salsa was spicier though.

  • Taqueria DF needs to get a liquor license, and maybe I’ll go back. They wouldn’t even let us bring our own.

  • El Limeno says they are a Mexican and Salvadorian food on the menu…

  • I also thought Riverdale was largely Salvadorians.

  • Yeah ugh I can’t really even think of a Mexican/Latino restaurant I like in the city. Places I don’t like: Alero, Lauriol, etc. Casa Oaxaca has been on my list for a while, as has El Tamarindo, I’ll make a point to check them out.

  • Does Taqueria DF have decent fare other than the tacos?

    I love the tacos, but have seen others venture to differnt parts of the menu with limited success

  • I like Pollo Sabroso but then again I live next to it.

  • taqueria poblano! the shredded beef tacos rival some i’ve had in san antonio

  • Casa Oaxaca- Great Food. TEEEERRRRRRIIIBBBBBLLLLEEE service.

  • Definitely Rinconcito II on Park Road for pollo a la crema.

  • Lauriol = On the Border = Chevy’s = Rio Grande Cafe = Amercanized crap. No one pretends not to like Lauriol – there are plenty of reasons to not like it. Lauriol is popular for 23 year old interns and kickball players.

  • When i was in college, I used to go to Las Placitas II out on Capitol Hill by Eastern Market. That places gets 2 thumbs up. Nowadays, it usually Ercilias, Pepitos or the Haydees up on Georgia (albeit just for the atmosphere and live music.) Best Nachos in town are at Old Glory in Gtown.

  • I’m from AZ and my mom is Mexican and it’s REALLY hard to find good Mexican here in DC! But I do like Taqueria DF and Casa Oaxaca. Casa Oaxaca is closest to what I’m used to in AZ, but I make my own tortillas and salsa and pretty mean enchiladas so I like to stick with my house for Mexican. 🙂

  • Lauriol does have a mighty fine salsa, even when it changes to accommodate fresh ingredients. If yuo are getting lunch, just get the taco al carbon from the side dishes. It comes in a soft tortilla with a little white rice and guacamole. At 6.50, it’s steal, so if you aren’t working also get a Negra Modelo. Mixtec has amazinf sandwiches. I also like DF in our area, but I think La Cabana, the new spot on 14th, is very good. Find somebody who speaks Spanish, and go.

  • New discovery at Pepitos: the chicken flautas.

  • El Tamarindo is great – granted, the corner it’s on is sort of weird/ghetto, though that’s changed a bit with the new gym/spa, the wine store, etc. I always hear good things about Mixtec, but I went there once and had a *really* bad experience. But I’m a vegetarian, so maybe their meat options are better.

    Speaking of which, PoP, you’ve done a post on the vegi hot dog contest, but what about asking for favorite places to get a vegetarian meal? The places themselves don’t have to be dedicated vegetarian (though I really like Vegetate), just places where you’re not limited to a boring salad.

  • I see that no one is yet willing to take on the fact that Lauriol Plaza has the best chips and salsa in the city on the merits.

  • i do enjoy their chips and salsa….and margaritas. i am not ashamed. 🙂

  • I definitely like Haydees over Taqueria DF. They have more flavor and frozen margaritas!

  • Pepitos II on Columbia Rd. No question. It’s really Mexican (I used to live in Mexico, and trust me, Lauriol Plaza, Alero, etc are NOT Mexican)–you can get huaraches, tortas, dulces, etc. It’s just a takeaway place.

    For Salvadoran, I agree with the votes for Rinconcito II by the Giant.

  • Oyamel downtown for way upscale. The shrimp a la plancha is very good and the sauce served with the huitlacoche quesadilla is to die for. The chilequilles at brunch are pretty authentic.

  • Taqueria Distrito Federale on 14th and Oak is the best hands down. The owner, Luis, treats you like family, the food is delicious and they often have an open pit bbq going on the weekends. The one drawback is that they don’t serve alcohol or beer, but you can bring your own (and there are plenty of places nearby to pick up something.) Here’s a link to a great food writer’s blog on it:

  • Went to Lauriol early last Saturday. 6 people and at 6:30 we didn’t have to wait for a table. My food was great – I had a salad – and everyone else seemed to enjoy whatever they ordered. My partner and I, who paid separately from the rest of the table, also shared a bottle of wine and our meal ended up being around $50. We never go there if we want Mexican food. We go there when we’re entertaining guests or on off hours (like the middle of the day on Thursday) if I’m in the neighborhood, for a nice sit down/chat/have a few drinks and appetizers.

  • Perhaps you people should stay home and make something fresh and nutritious. Mexican food is usually loaded with grease, unhealthly oils and other stuff that should not be eaten regularly. Jezz, no wonder health insurance rates keep rising!

  • Go away, Anon @ 1:41pm

    What the hell is “Jezz”?

  • I heard you Lau, I don’t eat pork, beef, chicken, none of that so there are places like Taco Distrito Federal that just do not appeal. You don’t get that in plenty of Salvadoran places that have their carne tipico platters, but plenty of vegetarian and seafood too.

  • Oddly appropriate NEWSFLASH:

    “The second location of Taqueria Distrito Federal is set to open tomorrow in Petworth. We’ve been fans of this joint for years, and even let you know how to attempt to recreate the experience at home. Join them for live mariachi music and delicious tacos to celebrate the grand opening from 3-8pm. 805 Kennedy St. NW; 202-276-7331”


  • Really, Anon 1:41? Why even comment? That’s not what the post was about. Your comment was as useful as teets on a bull hog.

    Now on to the post. I do love Lauriol for the chips and salsa. Authentic or not, it’s like crack to me. I could go there and just have some beers and basket after basket of chips and salsa (regardless of the “unhealthy oils” that they’re loaded with).

    DF is probably my favorite place close to home and I’ve still got to try many of the other places everyone has mentioned.

    And regarding things being authentic, I think that everything here – chinese, thai, indian, mexican, etc. – has been Americanized at least a bit. Sometimes it’s for the better, sometimes it’s not, but I think it’s to be expected. This city is loaded with people from different backgrounds and I actually like that everything is sort of mixed together. Makes things more interesting in my book. Then again, that’s just my humble opinion.

  • are the Chips and Salsa at Laurial any different than at Cactus Cantina? I mean its the same restaurant owners. And the Chips and Salsa at Cactus are crud. But then I havent been to Lauriol since 10 years ago when it got popular with the Newbie Transplants and Kickballers as a previous commenter noted.

  • The sals is the same between laurial Plazaand Cactus Cantina..and it’s far too smoky for my taste. I like La Lomitas the best (there are two on pennsylvania SE…one in eastern market and one by potomac ave metro)…same menu..bext mexican in the city hands down.

    I also really like Carribean Breeze in ballston for “nuevo” latino, whatever the hell that means.

  • Sorry..that should be the “salsa”

    Also, I think the food at Alero is quite tasty…and lunch buffet is a pretty good deal, too. And if you dip their chips in their maragarita, it tastes like fruit loops, no joke.

  • I had a bad service experience at Oyamel, but the food was fantastic, but it’s like if I’m paying that much money, you had better refill my water and come by a *least* once within the hour to see if I want to give you more money to buy more food/drink.

  • I have to admit I like Guapos on Wisconsin Ave for their chips and salsa (thin crispy chips and super chunky salsa). Their margaritas are okay. Austin Grill (formerly of Glover Park) has the best margaritas in my opinion (ie: fresh lime juice). I also enjoy Banana Cafe down on 8th Street SE, nice veggie burritos!

  • For upscale but truly authentic, it’s Casa Oaxaca (and maybe I was lucky, but last time I went the service wasn’t bad). For downscale, it’s Taqueria DF. News of the Kennedy St. location has me salivating!

  • I wish I owned Lauriol Plaza

  • el sol, on 9th and U.
    el tamarindo on florida and 18th

  • one more: ercilia’s mt. pleasant and irving

  • Margarita’s on Wisconsin near Calvert (Glover Park) is OK, but they do have barbacoa tacos, which I have yet to find anywhere besides at those terrible excuse for a burrito Chipotle’s.

  • Another vote for Taqueria DF, and I also really enjoy Rinconsito II.

  • El Limeno is my local fav–i love their tamales, and they also do a killer pupusa revueltos. el tamirindo is also pretty good, and though i haven’t been there in ages, Mixtec isn’t bad for Tex-Mex. i haven’t yet had the pleasure of Casa Oaxaca or Taqueria DF–may check out the grand opening in Petworth tomorrow to see how that is.

    the only good things about Lauriol Plaza are the outdoor seating and beer.

  • Guapo’s in Tenleytown. Or El Limeno if I’m staying in the neighborhood. I actually LOVE the tacos al carbon at Acuario but can’t handle the loud music so don’t go there anymore.

  • Just went to Lauriol Plaza for lunch today with a fellow DCPS teacher and have to agree with the other posters’ comments about the chips and salsa being great. I had the salmon with shrimp and my friend had the beef fajitas. We love the place. It’s one big fat cash cow, as the business is non-stop.

  • Haydees is great, and El Limeno is a winner (plus it’s a block and a half from my house).

    But here’s the thing – Cactus Cantina’s carne asada is really good. I mean, it’s absolutely delicious. It’s juicy, tender, fibrous in the good way its supposed to be. So many places just bring you a plate of fajita beef and call it carne asada (I’m looking at you, Alero), but CC’s version is a single, properly cooked steak. There certainly are better menus overall (the two above, for starters), but (1) it’s one hell of a lot better than Chevy’s, et al, and anyone who says it isn’t is just trying to look cool, and (2) it’s really kid friendly if you are into that kind of thing, and (3) that carne asada is great, it really is.

  • I’ve got to second Schweeney, who mentioned Oyamel, which is awesome! But it is very nice. For the neighborhood evening dinner, I’ve got to say Haydee’s still. For lunch near Union Station, the Taqueria Nacionale is great. Lauriel isn’t a “going out to eat place,” but a going out place that has food. Not a problem, and I don’t doubt their chips are great, but I don’t want to eat there. Too many people. Not chill enough.

  • Not quite sure where all the Lauriol animosity comes from. Appears to be very en vogue. The LOCAL business has been around long before many of you moved from Gaithersburg, Springfield and Leesburg, and despite incredible success (before and after move) has resisted dramatic price increases in over 15 years! The place is clean, service is prompt, food is decent to good (Masitas de Puerco for 11 bucks is my personal favorite). This is DC after all — the bar is pretty low.

    Granted, the place is crowded — particularly on the weekends — but like most things DC, the weekends are a horrible time to go anywhere. Personally, I go to Haydees, DF, Don Juan, Pollo Sabroso, and the taco truck on Columbia, but hate Lauriol?? My list of things I hate is long and Lauriol is no where near the top. I’d trade Lauriol Plaza for the Ruby Tuesdays in CH any day.

  • If you really want an authentic taqueria, go to La Placita in Riverdale. There’s a great Mexican bakery right next store too. It’s a dump, but the goat tacos are mmmmmm!

  • Sorry I missed this one yesterday, then I started scanning the comments, read “Mixtec,” which made me feel woozy and green, then someone typed “Cactus Cantina” and I now feel so sick I can’t hardly continue… both places should be ashamed to call the slop they serve “food” let alone “Mexican”.

    DF is the best I’ve had so far in DC (when the owner is on the grill — otherwise it’s not so good), El Limeno’s tacos are also preeety good 75% of the time, but the holy grail in DC has yet to be located…

  • “both places should be ashamed to call the slop they serve “food” let alone “Mexican”.”

    Too strong, mijo. Your argument loses force when it is so obviously hyperbolic.

  • Sorry, but Mixtec served me a dish of alleged “tacos” that were exceptionally unpleasant due to disgusting consistency, smell, taste, and preparation (a “superfecta of bad dining”, if you will), and brought out “enchiladas” that were so awful that Lil’ Gal literally had to spit into a napkin after taking one bite. It isn’t “hyperbole” to suggest such concoctions “aren’t food” if they are, in fact, inedible.

    In fairness, Cactus Cantina’s fare didn’t induce an immediate gag response like Mixtec, but it was as bland as frozen-fish-stick-surprise prepared by an a nihilist Amish cook who just broke up with his true love on the slopes of Mt. McKinley during the steel-gray twilight of the polar night. So, for lumping CC in with Mixtec without explaining the difference, I do apologize — but CC still serves unimpressive food for too much dinero, and seems to cater to loud, stoodenty types — so, no thanks.

    As DireWolf pointed out the last time we were talkin’ food, everyone has their own opinion, and what makes me want to hurl might taste like warm peach cobbler to you, but don’t expect me to agree.

    Especially if you’re wrong. 😉

  • Riverdale…UGH.

  • “bland as frozen-fish-stick-surprise prepared by an a nihilist Amish cook who just broke up with his true love on the slopes of Mt. McKinley during the steel-gray twilight of the polar night”

    This is quite elegant, but, yes, I’m afraid it is still hyperbole (or “hyperbole” if you prefer). And I am left to wonder – if you are a nihilist, can you remain Amish? Their whole thing seems to take the existence of an objective morality quite seriously. And is their food really so awful? And would an Amish man ever use something so modern as a frozen fish stick? And what is he doing on Mt. McKinley (which is south of the Arctic Circle, and thus, by night or day, not “polar”), anyway? All of which leads me to the ineluctible conclusion that the carne asada at Cactus Cantina is awesome. QED. 🙂

  • You know you’ll always get a lot of responses when you mention Lauriol…. honestly, I love it and when I don’t feel like dealing with the crowds I just get Cactus Cantina.

  • Margarita’s is the best I’ve had since coming to DC which isn’t saying much since I am from the West. They can pull off a decent mole poblano and have a seriously spicy salsa which are my gauges of good Mexican. Cafe Oaxaca also does a nice job for an upscale restaurant. I will have to check out Tacqueria DF.

    Tips on great mole are appreciated.

  • Their menu is quite eclectic, but for a delicious assortment of latin inspired food, try Ceiba down by Metro Center. It’s pricey, but tasty. They have a good mojito, crab nachos and great empenadas. Purists need not apply.

  • El Limeno (or LMNOP,as my kids and I call it). It’s only about a minute and a half away and the food is always tasty and plentiful and the service good.

  • Guapos, Guapos, Guapos in Tenleytown! This is coming from a Native Washingtonian. By far the best margaritas and enchiladas in the city.

  • Rinconcito II and Taqueria DF are the winners in CH.

    Guapos, Cactus Cantina/Lauriol (same owners) are both good too.

    Actually, I like Chevy’s too. Hmm. My Mexican palate isnt too refined. 🙂

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