38 Comment

  • If I was forced to pick I would choose Mezcalero. It’s a bit bigger and I find the food slightly tastier. That being said, if one is busy, I have zero problems walking to the other one. I like having the option of both and from the looks of the crowds I think the neighborhood can support both.

    • I feel the same way. I do think Mezcalaro is a step up on atmosphere, drinks, and some of the food choices but i am never disappointed at Habannero.

  • Habanero is much better, in my view. Admittedly, I will give Mezcalero a 2nd try, since they still have their training wheels on, but on my first time there with friends who live close by, Mezcalero had just opened and service was poor and execution ordinary…. like I said though, I will give Mezcalero another go but so far just love Habanero (if only Habanero would life their game in the guacamole department – what’s the go?? With RosaMex and high quality guacamole all over town, their offering is surprisingly sub-par…)…

  • I’ve had two pretty terrible service experiences at Mezcal. First being related to newly opening (but they comped our meal and some drinks so hats off to them) and the second just a really inattentive waiter. With that said – the tacos at Habenero are hands down the winner. The broiled oysters at Mezcal are ammmmaaaaazzzzinnngggggg as are some of their other appetizers.

  • Having Mezcalero as another option is necessary, in my opinion. For the last couple of months, the tacos at Habanero have been way too greasy and they charged us one extra taco almost every single time (perhaps on purpose?) I hope Mezcalero will hit their stride – so far I think the food has been pretty good!

  • I admittedly haven’t been to Habanero, but I’d like to go soon.
    .
    I went to Mezcalero two weekends ago and even though the food and drinks were good, the service was SO AWFUL that I don’t think I will ever go back. It took over an hour of waiting when they quoted us ~30 minutes (forgivable — it was the weekend). But then it took us another hour to get our food after we sat down. I had a similar experience at El Sol last year when I tried to go and ended up walking out after they sat several similarly-sized groups ahead of us despite telling us we were “next” for 1.5 hours. I think the management is just a total loss. Too bad because the food is good.

  • Have not tried Habanero, but stopped into Mezcalero a couple of weeks after opening. While the food was on par with El Sol, the service was laughably terrible. Our two person meal took an hour and a half.

  • For overall experience, I’m not sure this is even a contest. Habanero is hands down the winner. The lengua is always my favorite.

  • I too had a bad service experience at Mezcalero, but I did go the day after opening. I’m fairly confident that these veterans will be able to fix the service issues in due time.

    That being said, the tacos are better at Habanero. Mezcalero still offers better tacos than most places in DC, so if the wait is too long at Habanero I’ll just pop on over.

  • justinbc

    On another, slightly related, note, we went to La Puerta Verde (the new Ivy City spot) this weekend and it’s quite possibly the best Mexican food I’ve had in DC. While not entirely a high bar, it’s definitely a jump up from hole in the wall taco shops (and yet still offers 3 tacos for $9) in terms of the aesthetic and service level, and the more creative dishes pack loads of flavors that you just can’t find elsewhere in this area. It’s gonna be a huge boon for the area, for sure, I hope they’re able to sustain the crowds that were there this weekend.

  • I went to Mezcalero opening night.. big mistake. I put my name down on the list and we waited 2 hours to get a table. Then when we got our table, and sat for our order which took about an hour to get to us. So waiting around 3 hours, then finally taste the food and, no.. just no. The food was not even good. Maybe opening nights are difficult to do, but if that is the case the food should wow me at least, and that it did not do.

  • They are both good! The answer is EAT ALL THE TACOS

  • We just went for brunch this past Sunday at Mezcalero, the service was shocking! It was less than half full when we got there (11.30) and it took 15 minutes after being seated and a lot of longing looks for service before the BUSSER came and took our order. They don’t have bloody marys!! The food wasnt bad bit not great either. It was freezing inside no heat, most people in there kept coats on, no music, tvs just had direct tv logo floating around. Don’t think I’d bother going back, servers didn’t seemed to rushed to deal with anybody, we noticed a lot of the tables around us haging similar issues.

  • Habanero has better tacos. They are more flavorful and the salsa/hot sauces are better. Mezcalero has more options and their non-taco options are better then Habanero. It really depends on what you are going for. I prefer Habanero mainly because I usually get tacos on any normal evening. If I were on a date, I would go to Mezcalero to have more options and the booze is better there.

  • Just adding my voice to the chorus: both have amazing food (I’d say Habanero has better tacos, and Mezcalero has better apps.) Mezcalero has the better atmosphere, but the service is so horribly slow—like, 90+ minutes for a weekend lunch—that I’m still giving the edge to Habanero. Especially now that we’re entering patio season, and atmosphere matters less.
    .
    Hope both of these places continue to do well though (and it looks like they are!) because they’re both huge assets to the neighborhood.

  • northeazy

    Why do you refer to Mezcalero as “Old El Sol?” Just to clarify, El Sol still exists in Shaw, right? And the El Sol that Mezcalero replaced are all the same owners, right?

  • They are both delicious. I love Mezcalero and think they win out for me because of their drink menu and variety. We went on opening night and the wait was terrible. On our second visit the wait was more reasonable, service was strong and food was delicious. I think Mezcalero is a victim of its own popularity. Maybe implement a reservations system?

    • Man, I wish we had had good service at Mezcalero. What day/time did you go on the second visit? When I went, our dinner was still 3+ hours long and tables were clearing out and there was no line by the time we got our dinner (even though we arrived at 6 :[) I really wanted to like it, too.

  • I have literally never been to a restaurant in the first week or two of opening that the service wasn’t awful. I’ve learned that if I’m excited about a place and HAVE to go early, to not hold bad service against them. If it’s a place I can wait to go to, I will just wait a month or two. Mezcalero’s service has been excellent in the three times I’ve been there in the past 3 weeks.

    • I seriously want to know what time people are going where they’ve had good service. Do you mind sharing? I might be willing to go back at some point if there are clearly better days, but when I went and had terrible service they were well beyond the first few weeks of opening…..

      • I went this past Saturday around 6:30. I went one Saturday at 5:30 and have been on a Wednesday at 7pm

        • That is so odd. I went at 6pm on a Saturday, so right around the same time. I really wonder if maybe it was just our one waitress who wasn’t at all with it. Still, if it’s luck of the draw that’s not a great look…. Bummer….

      • I’ve been to both for lunch on weekdays around 1 p.m. Restaurants were mostly empty, service was great.

    • justinbc

      For every anecdote there’s an equal and opposite anecdote. I’ve been to dozens of openings in the first several weeks where things going off without a hitch. Many restaurants do multiple friends and family invitation style openings where they treat guests to meals so that they can work out service and kitchen kinks, and those places benefit greatly from it. Most places though would seemingly rather pass along the frustrating elements to the consumer and then ask you to pay full price for a less than desirable experience, very unfortunate but a reality in an environment where people clamor for all things new.

    • Le Diplomate is the exception to this rule for sure. The owner Stephen Starr brought in staff from his Philly restaurants for the first couple of months after opening and put them up hotels (i think). He wasnt convinced he could staff the restaurant with the quality that he wanted. Those first few months were exceptional. Since then, almost comically, every single trip i take to Le Dip the service is worse.

  • Mezcalero service: I’ve been twice, perhaps it was a little slow, but not memorably so. And both times the server was super friendly and accommodating, went out of their way, in fact, to offer non-menu items for our son. And the enchiladas I had on my second visit were fantastic.

  • On a somewhat related note, does anyone know where to find good Tex-Mex queso in DC?

  • I went to Mezcalero over this past weekend during “prime time,” and the service was good. So maybe they’re getting over the growing pains

  • French

    Mexcalero staff couldn’t be nicer. My boyfriend and I went on opening weekend, the staff was swamped. They forgot our order, and after an hour of waiting for service we received two jumbo margs, guac, and seafood nachos for free! Our first margs were also comped. As someone who used to work in the food industry I know how hard it is and commended them for their kindness! I would say if you’re taking some people to make an event out of it I would pick Mexcalero, they have better atmosphere. But if you’re a local Taqueria hab is were you go to cure a hangover for sure. No frills, just grease.

  • All these comments make me not want to go to either. Service makes the experience for me and clearly both have issues.

  • Hands down Habenaro takes this one, just tried Mazcelaro and one thing I can say is it falls short on flavor! Mazcalero has a lot more variety but I felt it lacked flavor, looks like they benefited from the word spread through social media before re-opening a gentrified version of El-Sol on 14th, and I am happy for them.
    Food and service at Habenaro is always great, been there countless times and never had a bad meal. I believe Mazcelaro service might get better with experience and with their Mezcal collection, once the crowd slows down might get better

  • andy

    Round 3.5: Just passed by and habanero had updated its sign.

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