Shipping Container Taqueria, El Rey, Opens Jan. 10th on U Street

by Prince Of Petworth January 3, 2014 at 10:30 am 29 Comments

919 U Street, NW

From a press release:

El Rey, the highly anticipated Mexican beer garden located at 919 U Street NW will officially open Friday, January 10 at 5pm. The 3,100 square foot space built almost entirely out of shipping containers is the first construction in Washington to use the colorful steel boxes in a substantive way. El Rey also features a spacious back patio that is covered (and uncovered) by a retractable roof and a U Street-facing takeout window. El Rey’s menu highlights tacos and tequila as well as a selection of Mexican and South American brews.


Capacity: 114 seats; 200 total
Menus: Dinner, take out window, cocktail. Lunch coming in Spring 2014
Hours of Operation:

Interior: 5pm-2am weekdays
5pm-3am weekends
Take-out window: 5pm-3am weekdays”


From 2011:


  • Anonymous

    The first construction in Washington to use the colorful steel boxes in a substantive way? Guess these guys have never been to the Bullpen across from Nats Park.

    • zero_sum

      Does it really matter if another place did it first? It’s a very Eco-friendly style of architecture. Much better than throwing up another squat, cheaply constructed stick-frame building covered by those drab tan bricks.

      • Anonymous

        I don’t think it matters, but apparently it matters to them. Building it out of bricks of dried dung would be even more eco friendly, but that doesn’t make it aesthetically pleasing.

      • Anonymous

        it only matters in that they claimed there were and that is not correct.
        people should be called out when they claim something that is very clearly untrue.

        • Anonymous

          What are you talking about? What claims did they make?

          • Anonymous

            dude, read the post.

          • Not a fed

            Did you not read the press release at the top of the page, or the comments that you just replied to?

        • Dave

          It could be that they don’t think the way in which the containers are used at the Bullpen is “substantive.” As far as I can tell, those containers are merely there to demarcate the “inside” from the “outside.” Here, it looks like you’ll literally be inside the containers, so, maybe that’s what makes the difference.

          • Not a fed

            I think that’s exactly the distinction they’re making. Obviously not everyone will agree…

          • Anonymous

            “We’re the first LEED certified building in Washington DC with red doors to the bathroom stalls”

          • Anonymous

            And they’re also proud to be the first U Street Hilton Corporation Shipping Container Taqueria in the history of the District of Columbia.

        • Anonymous

          I believe their claim was that they’re the first restaurant in DC to do so..

  • Anonymous

    It is shameful and uninspired, and a blight on a street that people are actually making something out of again. It should be at the top of the horses ass list until there is a real building there.

    • MikeB

      You are correct – well, not at all really. Do you realize that this was previously a vacant lot that housed an open air drug market dressed as a car wash?

  • U Street Resident

    I walked by this over the weekend and it actually looks a lot better in person. I just don’t think this place photographs very well. I think it will be a pretty interesting addition to the U St Corridor once it opens.
    Much better than the empty lot it replaced or the boring boxy architecture you find on 14th Street.

  • bb

    What are the prices like? The more Mexican food the better, but I hope it’s at least semi-reasonable.

    • zero_sum

      I think it’s going to be pretty low cost. They did a trial run (pop up?) with some of the food items at Dodge City (I think?) and the prices advertised online were very reasonable (El Reconcito-style prices).

      • L

        I recall Dodge doing tortas and whatnot as a popup, but I was under the impression from the staff that it wasn’t related to El Rey. I could be wrong though.

        • Anonymous

          They are often grilling up sausages or making tortas out back on a grill. Their food is excellent.

      • MikeB

        The popup that was at Dodge was not affiliated with this place.

  • Don’t worry guys, it’s going to be awesome–we did a little trial run to simulate it. My precocious toddler made a scale replica out of three blocks (uncanny!), and then I drank tequila while looking at it for a few hours. I had a blast, and I assume the rest of the family did too. Then I got into a fight with the Christmas tree and fell asleep in the tub. Anyway, the moral is that it’s fun to drink in a freight container like our hobo forefathers did.

    • theheights

      Ha! Awesome. Can’t wait for DC’s first cardboard box-themed small plate supper club.

    • Anonymous

      “Hobo Train Car Chic” – another innovative concept restaurant!

      I think hobos also ate small plates, but it was ‘cuz they were poor.

      • Ok, I just copyrighted “Hobo Train Car Chic” and we will be opening our restaurant this spring on 11th St. We will be featuring artisinal, craft cans of beans and hobo wine, served right from the bucket. You got to bring your own bindle though. Our servers are genuine hobos too, so keep your fingers away from their mouths.

        • Anonymous

          Staff uniforms come from Mugatu’s “Derelicté” collection.

  • Anonymous

    I think a lot of people are asking this question.

  • c

    i’m all for this! i think it’s fun!

  • P

    How this “architecture” design got approved by DC gov is a mystery to me. Personally as a longtime resident of U ST corridor if feel insulted. It seems as anything goes these days. The value of this metal box to the neighborhood is minimal, at least and is diminishing by the day. We all owe to this city to maintain and cherish its neighborhoods. We are all custodians of this great city. We deserve better, we can do better. Mediocracy is not the answer.

  • Anonymous

    agree with P


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