Dear PoP – Good Latino Food around 14th and Spring, NW?

“Dear PoP,

My fiance and I just moved to the area, after living in Logan Circle for 5 years. We’re very happy about the change! There seem to be a ton of Latino restaurants within a block or so of us, so I’m a bit overwhelmed with where to start. Some seem a little unsafe even? Rinconcito on 11th was our go-to spot in Logan, and we’ve tried Rinconcito II further down in CH, but it just wasn’t quite the same. Anything around 14th and Spring worth trying?”

I generally consider TDF (pictured above) located at 3463 14th St, NW to be one of the best in town. Robyn liked La Molienda at 3568 14th St, NW. Which are your favorites? Any to be avoided?

We looked at other favorite Latino restaurants here.

51 Comment

  • What does “good Latino food” mean? Mexican? Salvadorean? Puerto Rican? Argentinian? That’s like asking “Good American food on 14th?”

  • El Amigo – the carne asada is good and the sopa de res (beef soup) is the best hangover cure out there.

  • If Petworth is too scary, possibly a move back to Logan Circle should be in order…Taqueria D.F. is fantastic. The tacos are great. The platters are huge and flavorful. This place used to be a hidden gem. However, these things cannot last forever. The floodgates are already open…come on in.

    • Prince Of Petworth

      That’s not fair of skh. First, this is Columbia Heights. Second, some of the establishments on 14th north of Quincy can indeed seem suspect. Perhaps scary isn’t the right word, but we’d be lying if we didn’t admit that some and I emphasize some not all of the establishments can be concerning.

      • Absolutely. I wouldn’t go into El Savadoreno. I’m not afraid of getting stabbed, just of being in a really awkard situation.

        • Yeah – what’s the place up by Red Derby with the sign “patrons are not to interfere with residents of a nearby group home?” It’s like an advertisement – violence happens here!

  • +1 for El Amigo. It’s a favorite in the area among my Salvadoran friends (not counting Ercilia’s in Mt. Pleasant). La Molienda isn’t anything special, but you won’t get bad food there. Of course, Distrito is outstanding.

    I think that anyone who is rooting for Distrito to have less business so it can remain undiscovered has never met Luis and his daughters. He’s a fantastic person, and I wish him 1000x the business, whether it brings white people from Logan or not.

  • have you tried Alero? i hear their cheese dip is to die for

  • HAYDEE’S!!!!!!!!!

    Ice cold frozen Margarita’s, warm burrito’s and steamin’ fajitas!

    • Haydee’s is cool, but maaan that one waitress is so incredibly terrible at being a waitress…

    • Best Steak Fajita I’ve ever had. That simple. Oh and their salsa is delicious. Oh and they serve $2.50 Budweisers. Oh and they have great margaritas. Oh and they have live music on the weekends. Oh and they have a projection screen for soccer. I can go on for days about Haydees.

    • are you kidding me? i like their fajitas, but man haydee’s margaritas are AWFUL! i gave it another try, for like the 10th time and i swear they buy their mix at linnen’s n’ things.

  • Gloria’s is legit, plus beers. My favorite. 14th, cash only

    Acuario (11th) is really very good too, though the damn juke box can be way way too loud. Good Dominican.

    Rinconcito Deportivo is ok, I wish they would make Bolivian food. The owners are Bolivians, right?

    la cabaña is good, kind of fancy for me.

    Pan lourdes is amazing. El Latino bakery is the bomb.

    Carolina is the only one that intimidates me. But that’s because I got no rhythm.

    captcha : tumbles government (!)

    • yeah, what’s up with the music blasted so loud they can hear it all the way back in Tegucigalpa?

    • i’ve been wondering about gloria’s. thanks for the tip, i’ll have to drop in.

      i was under the impression from a few friends that el latino bakery didn’t actually sell to the public – just other businesses. not true? the smell coming out of that place is mindblowing.

      i tried to go to kiko’s chicken the other day after their “grand reopening,” thinking that it’d be good to give it a shot as it is a lot closer than the places on park rd. they didn’t have any chicken. let me repeat that. SORRY. WE. DON’T. HAVE. CHICKEN. seriously? a chicken place without chicken? the guy offered something else (we have steak…). i won’t be back.

      • El Latino Bakery does sell to the public. They are friendly so don’t be afraid to pop in amongst the stacks and stacks of wonderful, sweet bread and point out what you’d like.

    • Pan lourdes is terrible. The conchas r always stale. Go to Gaithersburg to the Guatemalan bakery if u want really good latin bake goods. Trust me your taste buds will know the difference

  • Thanks for this post, so many options on that stretch, hard to know which to pick. I like TDF (great food and as others have said, the owner rocks) as well, Gloria’s was pretty good for pupusas, I will have to try some of the others listed above. The Rinconsitos on Park / 11th are solid.

    I live near Acuario and will NEVER go in again due to a large variety of reasons which can be summed up by saying, they are NOT a good neighbor and they are very shady. Plus, I wasn’t delighted by their food, which isn’t really the priority there in any event.

    You can find webpages for almost all of the places listed above here:

  • Distrito was the first place I ate at the day I moved to Columbia Heights, and I immediately knew I had made a good move.

    I’ll also recommend Haydee’s, though not so much for the food…more for the ridiculously long happy hour. If you get out of work too late for the regular ones that end at 7p, you’ll appreciate this place.

  • I know it may be little out of your way, but I highly suggest that everyone visit Pica Taco at 16 and Columbia. They make very few items; tacos (lengue, chicken, beef barbacoa and pork), burritos, tortas and occasional specials such as fish tacos, plus good coffee.

    They are a small family owned place that has been open less than a year, but they are great. Really small, really nice, really good and really cheap. And their green salsa picante is unbelievable.

  • The best pupusas are next to Haydee’s, at Pupuseria San Miguel. It’s downstairs, a few doors down from Dos Gringos.

  • Thanks for all the recommendations, guys! Happy to be in the neighborhood.

  • What is La Carolina like? Food place or just bar?

  • Anybody know what the deal is with the now-open pollo a la brasa place up around 14th & Spring Road? Any good?

  • So here’s another layer for the discussion…

    How come most of these places don’t have outdoor seating?

    Yeah Distrito Federal does…but I see all these great wide sidewalks around 14th and Spring that would be ideal for outdoor tables (and less jukebox) for these small Latino restaurants…y nada!

    Is it a zoning thing or a cultural difference?

    Seems like a no-brainer to me…

    • I’m pretty sure there is additional paperwork that must be filled. Alero is rumored to get sidewalk seating soon.

      Honestly, eating on the sidewalk in Columbia Heights isn’t recommended. Unless its somewhere like Commonwealth or Thaitanic that is separated from the sidewalk, you WILL get homeless people approaching your table as you eat.

      • Really? I’ve never had this problem, and I’ve eaten outdoors not only at the places you’ve mentioned, but also at TDF, The Heights, Starbucks, and in the plaza.

        • This does happen. It happened to me and my girlfriend a couple weeks ago at Pollomio.

          Three guys came up to our table and wanted our plates full of bones and would not take “no” as an answer.

          Rather than turn into “angry ed” and be confrontational (which I sometimes do…but I was in a good mood that day) my girlfriend and I simply walked back into the store to trash the bones and empty cups, while the staff came out to get him to leave. We walked out, right past them.

      • I’ve got to say two things:

        1. TDF. Any day of the week, any hour of the day – I love it.

        2. I’ve never had issues with strangers approaching me at outside tables in the neighborhood.

        Unless you mean “Blevis,” of course, who seems to frequent 11th street lately. But he can take a hint after a few failed serenades to move on.

  • I stopped by La Carolina once a few years ago. It was operating essentially as a disco. My friend and I were the only two gringos there, but the staff were friendly enough. Ended up talking to an undercover DEA agent (or so he said).

  • i read this post, and all day long i was looking forward to getting tacos delivered, and they said that they don’t ever deliver!!!! dammit.

    • saf

      Who? TDF? Huh, they deliver here.

      • yeah, i dunno. i’m within their two mile radius, but the conversation didn’t even get to my location. maybe it was the language barrier or something…

        • saf

          We did get the “No delivery tonight” a week or two ago. Sometimes, delivery dude isn’t there. Sometimes, Luis brings the stuff himself.

  • I got food poisoning at Distrito Federal. Even before it made me sick, though, I did not think the food was all that.

  • By which, or course, I mean “Blelvis.” The missing “L” is pretty critical!

  • La Cabana on 14th and Spring/Perry is great!
    I’ve been there a few times and, while it’s always mostly empty, the food has been good quality and the staff very friendly. Try the fried plantains, they are amazing.

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