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Mexican in DC

w
Winnie Feb 19, 2002 09:12 PM

Any good recommendations for mexican food in DC (aside from the usual lauriol plaza, guapos, austin grill)?

  1. z
    zora Feb 19, 2002 09:46 PM

    I haven't been to Andale yet, but Tom Sietsema liked it. Guajillo on Wilson Blvd. in Arlington is good-- folks from the Mexican Embassy supposedly eat there. They serve fresh tortillas, but they use masa harina to make them, not fresh masa... Tia Queta on Del Rey Av. in Bethesda is usually good. For antojitos, Taqueria Poblano on Mount Vernon Ave. in Alexandria has great tacos al pastor.

    1 Reply
    1. re: zora
      j
      Joe Feb 19, 2002 11:37 PM

      Guajillo has serious mole, excellent ceviche and, arguably, the best top shelf margaritas in the D. C. area. Seriously good and reasonably priced carne asada also. It's also sufficiently crummy to feel comfortably authentic.

    2. s
      Silent Bob Feb 20, 2002 09:28 AM

      What is everyone's opinion of Enriqueta's in Georgetown? I was there a few weeks back and thought the mole was decent.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Silent Bob
        j
        Joe Feb 20, 2002 12:31 PM

        I haven't been in at least ten years but back in the '80's it was thought of as unquestionably the best "real" Mexican in D. C. Tia Queta in Bethesda was similar. But again it has been a long time for both.

        1. re: Joe
          b
          Bob W. Feb 20, 2002 05:33 PM

          Well, I just happened to have eaten at Tia Queta in Bethesda for the first time Monday night. The proprietor was very friendly, but the food was decidedly ordinary. As soon as I saw the store-bought chips, I knew I was NOT in for a culinary experience to remember. Suggested motto for the Bethesda Triangle: Mediocre Restaurants, and Lots of 'em!

          A place I would recommend is Picante! The Real Taco, out in Chantilly. It's been about a year since we at there, but they recently took over the donut bakery next door and expanded into that space, so they are definitely pleasing the locals.

          At Tia Queta's I tried the Pescado a la Veracruzana, since I had enjoyed that so much at Picante! Tia's just didn't measure up.

      2. t
        TerriS Feb 20, 2002 10:06 AM

        I actually like El Tamarindo (18th and Florida) in Adams Morgan. It is a lot of Salvadoran but they do their Mexican quite well (at least to my southern california tastes). I have always enjoyed their burritos. Margaritas are pretty good too. It's low-key and cheap too, can't go wrong!

        If you're willing to venture out into Crystal City check out Taco House on 23rd St. Also cheap and somewhat tacky atmosphere but I love that place.

        2 Replies
        1. re: TerriS
          m
          mikep Feb 20, 2002 12:42 PM

          Better than El Tamarindo and nearby is the Mixtec on Columbia just east of 18th. It's not much in the way of atmosphere, but the food is pretty snappy. They have a great breakfast/brunch too.

          1. re: mikep
            z
            zora Feb 22, 2002 09:05 AM

            I have been served spoiled food at Mixtec. If I hadn't spat it out, I'm sure I would have gotten food poisoning. The same person owns Enriquetas, which to my Southern California taste is mediocre.

        2. b
          Brian Feb 20, 2002 10:45 AM

          Cactus Cantina is always great. And if you don't mind the trip to Silver Spring, I'm a big fan of Mi Rancho. They have the fresh tortilla machine right by in the doorway when you walk in.

          1. j
            Jeffrey Feb 21, 2002 11:35 AM

            While some might argue against a Mexican chain, Baja Fresh received some accolade from Washingtonian et. al for their cheap prices and authentic taste. I personally enjoy their food on a weeknight when I am too tired (lazy) to cook. They have locations all over Virginia, Maryland, and a few in the District. I highly recommend their fish tacos.

            Link: http://www.bajafresh.com/

            8 Replies
            1. re: Jeffrey
              b
              Bob W. Feb 21, 2002 12:34 PM

              I concur in the recommendation of Baja Fresh. Good chips, tasty salsas, and well cooked meats. The fish tacos are a very reasonable rendition; we've had them at Rubio's in SD and Baja Fresh's are not far off the mark at all. The burritos are more interesting than those offered by the local burrito chains.

              For something different, as a side dish get an order of cebollitos, grilled scallions.

              1. re: Bob W.
                j
                Joe H. Feb 21, 2002 07:20 PM

                Baja Fresh is as popular and the lines are as long in the D. C. area as they are in Marina Del Rey or anywhere else in southern California where the chain was founded. This is some seriously good Cal-Mex fast food. The cebollitas are every bit as good as they are on the streets of Tijuana. Fajitas are cheap, tasty and quick. Not on the level of Rio Grande but it's not suppose to be.

                1. re: Joe H.
                  z
                  Ziv Oct 23, 2011 05:36 AM

                  Baja Fresh for the grilled fish tacos is my default fast food, but I have always been kind of embarrassed going to a fast food joint in an area like Arlington, with its huge assortment of 'real' ethnic cafes. I still like the tacos at TECC better, but sometimes a fish taco is what I am looking for and Baja Fresh is the only place I can get one that is pretty good for a decent price.
                  And thanks for the tip on the cebollitas, Joe!

              2. re: Jeffrey
                t
                TerriS Feb 22, 2002 06:53 AM

                Oooh, I concur. Having been born and raised in the home of the Fish Taco, San Diego, Baja Fresh is excellent for those cravings. It reminds me a lot of a San Diego chain called La Salsa - salsa bar, emphasis on freshness, the menu items. The fish tacos are VERY good. The shrimp are good too, but not as good as what you'd get in San Diego (at a place like Fins). We often get takeout from Baja Fresh and it definitely hits the spot.

                1. re: TerriS
                  z
                  zora Feb 22, 2002 09:20 AM

                  La Salsa actually started in West L.A. I was a regular customer at the first La Salsa on Pico and Sepulveda in the late 70's. The owner/founder, Howdy Cabrens (?sp) was often there, soliciting opinions about their offerings. It was the first Mexico City-style antojito place in L.A. to serve soft tacos with grilled meats, burritos without beans, and a variety of fresh salsas. It was fabulous, at first. After a couple of years, Howdy opened a couple of others in L.A., and in the next ten or fifteen years, spread over the state. There are many imitators, Baja Fresh being one of them. Those who remember La Salsa in the early days find the current quality to be significantly diminished. As much as I appreciate Baja Fresh, it isn't as good as La Salsa is, currently. (I'll test my opinion again, because I'm going back to CA for a visit in late March). And it is a far cry from La Salsa in the early days. I speak specifically about the flavor of the meats, the freshness of the tortillas, and especially the salsas at the salsa bar, which at Baja Fresh, to my taste, leave a great deal to be desired.

                  1. re: zora
                    j
                    Joe H. Feb 22, 2002 09:55 AM

                    Have you ever been to either Taco Super Rico in Santa Barbara or Taco Mesa in Costa Mesa? Those are the standard bearers. Anyone on this board that visits Southern California if you are near either of these you should try them. The first was favored by Julia Child and the second was called the best Mexican fast food in the West by Sunset Magazine several years ago.

                    1. re: Joe H.
                      z
                      zora Feb 23, 2002 08:24 AM

                      I was at the Santa Barbara place once, possibly fifteen years ago. I don't remember enough about it to comment. I actually will be in Northern California in March, where my parents now live, and plan to re-visit a La Salsa there, which is in an outlet shopping mall near my parents' home. I also got the names of some places recommended by 'hounds on the Bay Area board, that I plan to check out. Can't wait!

                2. re: Jeffrey
                  biscuit Oct 27, 2011 10:00 PM

                  Baja Fresh is nada. Last time I went the chips were stale, salsa frozen, the fish watery and bland. I liked this place in my 20's, but since I've had the real deal, I'll avoid. I'll just go ahead and say that it's truly awful.

                3. l
                  Lori S Feb 22, 2002 08:25 PM

                  I also give a thumbs up for Baja Fresh. Soft-shell tacos of fish or steak - yummmm.

                  Also good (and a much smaller chain) is California Tortilla, in Bethesda & Rockville. They have a number of healthy-type burritos, veggie or chicken. The Rockville one has a special deal Mon-Thurs 5-9: $10 for a burrito, bottomless soda & ticket to the Regal Cinema next door (or any theatre in the Regal chain). A ticket alone would normally cost you $8. Monday nights they also have a special: buy a burrito & spin the wheel for a surprise bonus...

                  1. d
                    david banks Feb 23, 2002 05:59 PM

                    i live for mexican food and have not found anything better than taqueria poblano in arlandria on mt. vernon blvd. it's worth the hike.

                    1. d
                      david Feb 23, 2002 06:08 PM

                      baja fresh is great and convenient but i prefer taqueria poblano on mt. vernon ave. in arlandria.

                      1. d
                        DonSenorMostaccioli Oct 1, 2011 12:15 PM

                        Lauriol Plaza in an overpriced, crowded, assembly line-inspired Mexican restaurant. Their commitment to authenticity and formulaic food preparation rivals Taco Bell. (but at least at Taco Bell you're getting your dollar's worth)

                        -----
                        Lauriol Plaza
                        1835 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: DonSenorMostaccioli
                          DanielK Oct 1, 2011 07:20 PM

                          DSM gets the record - resurrects a thread nearly a decade old!

                        2. a
                          afdawson Oct 3, 2011 08:46 AM

                          Not sure if tex-mex would fit the bill, but I've found Uncle Julio's to be pretty great. I've been to one in Bethesda and one in Dallas TX, and they were equally good. I know a number of Texans who swear by it. Sure it's crowded and noisy and chain-ey, but I really haven't had better fajitas. (The sopapillas, salsa, and queso are also great.)

                          ** Just noticed I'm responding to a decade-old post. Oops. But Julio's is still good. **

                          1. fishie Oct 3, 2011 12:53 PM

                            Taqueria DF on 14th st. Hands down.

                            -----
                            Taqueria DF
                            805 Kennedy St NW, Washington, DC

                            12 Replies
                            1. re: fishie
                              woodleyparkhound Oct 3, 2011 02:54 PM

                              The map says it's on Kennedy St. (???)

                              1. re: woodleyparkhound
                                m
                                mdpilam Oct 3, 2011 05:08 PM

                                I think fishie meant El Centro DF, which is on 14th & S NW.

                                It's pretty good by DC standards, and as expected, overpriced.

                                1. re: mdpilam
                                  ashleyrar Oct 21, 2011 02:31 PM

                                  Taqueria DF is on 14th and Kennedy, and its really fantastic.
                                  I love the tongue, al pastor, chorizo, and goat tacos.

                                  I personally think El Centro is boring and dumb.

                                  -----
                                  Taqueria DF
                                  805 Kennedy St NW, Washington, DC

                                  Centro
                                  4838 Bethesda Ave, Bethesda, MD 20814

                                  1. re: ashleyrar
                                    m
                                    mdpilam Oct 22, 2011 07:45 AM

                                    Oops, my bad, I didn't see any Taqueria DF on 14th St (except for Distrito Federal, which is pretty bad). On Google Maps, it shows it at 8th and Kennedy - is this incorrect?

                                    -----
                                    Taqueria DF
                                    805 Kennedy St NW, Washington, DC

                                    1. re: mdpilam
                                      h
                                      hamster Oct 22, 2011 08:39 AM

                                      There are two locations of Taqueria Distrito Federal, one on 14th and the one you identified at 8th.

                                      I am ruined after eating at La Mexicana a few weeks back. Never again eating tacos in the city.

                                      1. re: hamster
                                        monkeyrotica Oct 26, 2011 10:04 AM

                                        Same here. Give Tacos El Costalilla a try. They're right down the street from La Mexicana and they do excellent cabeza and al pastor tacos as well as the "nasty bits" like buche. Couple bucks cheaper, too.

                                        -----
                                        Tacos El Costalilla
                                        7862 Richmond Hwy, Alexandria, VA 22306

                                    2. re: ashleyrar
                                      j
                                      J_DC Oct 26, 2011 05:24 AM

                                      I am a fan of Taqueria DF, but prefer Super Tacos & Bakery. In addition to tacos, i like getting their burritos and tortas. It's a regular on my delivery rotation.

                                      -----
                                      Taqueria DF
                                      805 Kennedy St NW, Washington, DC

                                      1. re: J_DC
                                        h
                                        hppyheather Oct 26, 2011 08:41 AM

                                        I have never heard of this Super Tacos & Bakery -- details?? I am always in search of great Mexican!

                                        1. re: hppyheather
                                          j
                                          J_DC Oct 26, 2011 09:00 AM

                                          Super Tacos & Bakery is a hole-in-the-wall in Adams Morgan. I have never actually been to the restaurant, as I always get delivery (my understanding is stick to carry-out or delivery).

                                          Here's the website: http://www.supertacosdc.com/

                                          1. re: J_DC
                                            r
                                            rappel75 Oct 26, 2011 09:35 AM

                                            For good tacos and burritos, District Taco in Arlington is top notch. It used to be just a taco truck but now has a real restaurant to go to. Ask for corn tortillas for an authentic experience. The taco trucks still exist and are often present in DC proper. They do not have much beyond tacos and burritos, but they do them well

                                            1. re: J_DC
                                              m
                                              mdpilam Nov 12, 2011 07:34 AM

                                              I stopped by here last night to check them out seeing as I live somewhat close by. I ordered a sope de asada, taco de al pastor and taco de cochinita pibil and a maracuya drink. The tacos came out huge - stuffed with meat. Too stuffed. I took out half the meat from each taco and put it on the sope (because for some reason they didn't give me asada with it, but I'll get to that later). The al pastor was pretty decent; I wasn't expecting much since I didn't see a spit (which means that it was griddled, which is not really al pastor). A little too much seasoning and dry, but no gristly or fatty or bad pieces. The cochinita didn't really taste like cochinita, but more like carnitas with some seasoning, but was pretty solid if not a bit salty. The sope was not really a sope at all, but more like a round huarache. Kinda. I had enough meat left over from the tacos that I didn't need the asada anyway. The "sope" was actually pretty decent too.

                                              Overall, a pretty good taqueria by DC standards. I will be back to try their asada and a few of their other meats. Probably the best that I've had in the district (which is not an extensive list, because I've been so disappointed in what I've found in the district), but still (well) below La Mexicana and La Fondita.

                                              PS - they get extra points for the awesomeness of their song:

                                              http://www.supertacosdc.com/

                                              -----
                                              La Mexicana
                                              13016 Middlebrook Rd, Germantown, MD 20874

                                            2. re: hppyheather
                                              s
                                              Steve Oct 26, 2011 11:15 AM

                                              It's a good place to know about, but don't expect anything great. There are a few stools at a counter there, so it is possible to eat in. The tamales are huge,very cheap, and very good. Everything else is at least good.

                                              Colombia Rd, east of 18th.

                                  2. d
                                    drake0388 Oct 26, 2011 05:02 PM

                                    My favorite Mexican places in DC are La Lomita Cap Hill and Lost Tios in Del Ray-Alex. I would say La Lomita is my favorite of the two. The Mexican place at Shirlington Village Arlington is not bad either.

                                    La Lomita is great, it's one of those low key places, it's not like Rosa Mexicana or Oyamel- both of which I also love. La Lomita has a great patio, excellent prices, and the food is awesome. Definitely a must eat for the Mexican food lover!

                                    Cactus Cantina over near the Cathedral is pretty good too and I believe they are under the same ownership as Lauriol. However they are more regular tex mex/american mexican.

                                    -----
                                    la Lomita Dos
                                    308 Pennsylvania Avenue SE, Washington, DC

                                    10 Replies
                                    1. re: drake0388
                                      s
                                      Steve Oct 26, 2011 07:43 PM

                                      I put all of these places under the category of "Taco Bell with a Liquor License." Completely unrelated to real food in Mexico and devastating for someone from the Southwest where people live in close proximity to a Mexican population.

                                      1. re: Steve
                                        agarnett100 Oct 27, 2011 06:31 AM

                                        I agree with Steve having travel to Mexico frequently and having lived in SoCal for almost a decade - most of the Mexican restaurants in DC do a very poor job of representing Mexican cuisine

                                        1. re: Steve
                                          monkeyrotica Oct 27, 2011 07:10 AM

                                          I actually like La Lomita when I'm in the mood for some cheap Salvadorean interpreted texmex (I like Las Placitas even better), but I certainly wouldn't steer anyone there who was looking for outstanding Mexican cuisine.

                                          -----
                                          Las Placitas
                                          517 8th St SE, Washington, DC 20003

                                          1. re: Steve
                                            d
                                            drake0388 Nov 6, 2011 05:37 AM

                                            I guess perspective is everything. I have never lived in or visited the SW very much so I just do not know how to compare my favorites here to what is there. I grew up in this area so that's all I have to compare it to. For me those places work but I can see that for others they may not. I do think that it is unfortunate how various ethnic foods get "American-ized".

                                            1. re: drake0388
                                              s
                                              Steve Nov 6, 2011 06:41 AM

                                              Certainly it is a question of expectations.

                                              I have to ask myself: why aren't the Mexican choices in DC among the best restaurants we have? Either I think they are (in which case Cactus Cantina would make the list of DC's best restaurants) or they are not. If not, do I believe Mexican food is inferior? Or do I believe that this just not a good representation?

                                              As someone who believes in the possibility of having a great Mexican meal, and that it is not an inferior cuisine, then I have to accept that the examples you cited are just not that good.

                                              Unfortunately, there is not much good Mexican food in the DC area. There are a few isolated winners in my opinion. Oyamel used to have very good albondijas and chile en nogado, but everything there now has become so salty, and the chile en nogado is no longer on the menu. I love the goat tacos at Taqueria El Charrito Caminante in Arlington, and then a few other isolated items at other taquerias, almost all in suburbs quite far away from DC. I like the enmoladas at Cas Oaxaca in Adams Morgan. For the sake of convenience, I would start with the goat tacos at TECC if you want to have something to compare real food to the fake stuff.

                                              Here is another thread you may want to take a look at:

                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/771953

                                              -----
                                              El Charrito Caminante
                                              2710 Washington Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201

                                              1. re: Steve
                                                d
                                                drake0388 Nov 6, 2011 07:02 AM

                                                You do raise a good point because for example I believe that on Washingtonian's top 100 very best restaurants there is probably not one Mexican restaurant. Not that I put all stock in Washingtonian or their lists but I cite this as just an example. I do enjoy Oyamel very much and I also enjoy Rosa Mexicano. LaLomita is my fav cheaper type place. I have always wanted to try Guajillo in Arlington which I think is a dirt cheap eat for Washingtonian. I generally go to Rosa for my Mexican, it's good for groups and most folks will eat there. Often times when I dine out I have to deal with picky eaters! But again I have not lived in the SW USA etc so Rosa and the others work for me.

                                                1. re: drake0388
                                                  c
                                                  ChewFun Nov 7, 2011 06:21 AM

                                                  I don't have a problem with Americanized foods as long as they are good. Isn't most every cuisine a fusion? French fries are a fusion of Meso-American and Belgian. Pizza with tomato sauce is a fusion of Meso-American and Italian. If you like the food at a restaurant, no need to stop going or feel bad about it. You should even extol the virtues you see in it to others on this site. However, when you are from LA and looking to rekindle a taste memory, then I am always disappointed by the overly Salvadoran mexican places.

                                                  1. re: ChewFun
                                                    s
                                                    Steve Nov 7, 2011 09:16 AM

                                                    I'm ok as long as it's great. I eat great food on a regular basis. All those 'Cactus Cantina' places are not serving great food, and you don't have to sign up for Chowhound to discover them. In fact, just blindly pointing your finger in the Yellow Pages under Mexican Restaurants will produce the same results.

                                                    1. re: Steve
                                                      c
                                                      ChewFun Nov 7, 2011 09:59 AM

                                                      I agree with you because I don't like them, but they are often packed so who am I to say that they shouldn't enjoy what they obviously are enjoying. The standards for Mexican Food is not that high around here. It has improved somewhat since the late 80s, but not by much. However, unlike the late 80s, there are now actual Mexican places that are oriented towards serving Mexicans (you don't put liver, buche or carnaza tacos on your menu to attract novices).

                                                      1. re: ChewFun
                                                        s
                                                        Steve Nov 7, 2011 04:45 PM

                                                        I am not sure who 'they' is (you know what they say about they-sayers), but I am guessing free chips, salsa, and a pitcher of frozen margaritas has something to do with it.

                                                        Let them enjoy their food.... sure. But if someone becomes curious about the alternatives after reading this thread, then so much the better.

                                        2. biscuit Oct 27, 2011 10:04 PM

                                          Taqueria Nacionale (if it's still around) or Pepito's II are the best I've had in town. Down in Alexandria, La Mexicana is hands-down best in the entire DMV.

                                          14 Replies
                                          1. re: biscuit
                                            m
                                            mdpilam Nov 5, 2011 02:50 PM

                                            I know I toot their horn more than any other place in DC (it's deserved), but I just had another fantastic meal at La Mexicana. Finally tried their torta ahogada (it's hard to branch out from their tacos once you've had them), and ooooweeeee, is that thing delicious. The owner and his wife are really great too - very nice and friendly.

                                            1. re: mdpilam
                                              monkeyrotica Nov 5, 2011 05:24 PM

                                              Isn't that a great sandwich? That bread really holds the sandwich together; firm, yet pliable enough to cut with a plastic knife. And that jabanero sauce is like nothing I've ever had. Hard to imagine folks in Mexico eat this thing at soccer games with their bare hands.

                                              La Mexicana's sopes are excellent as well. Huge corn griddle cakes topped with beans, meat, lettuce, onion, avocado, and crema. Two will put you in a food coma.

                                              1. re: monkeyrotica
                                                woodleyparkhound Nov 6, 2011 06:17 AM

                                                What's the address of La Mexicana? I couldn't find it on the Internet.

                                                -----
                                                La Mexicana
                                                13016 Middlebrook Rd, Germantown, MD 20874

                                                1. re: monkeyrotica
                                                  woodleyparkhound Nov 6, 2011 06:18 AM

                                                  It just popped up on Middlebrook Rd. in Germantown. Is that correct?

                                                  1. re: woodleyparkhound
                                                    d
                                                    drake0388 Nov 6, 2011 06:28 AM

                                                    I think but am not positively sure about this... But I think it is in Alexandria VA. I tried to find it once but I think they do not have a website. If you go to YELP and search for La Mexicana then you find the La Mexicana on Arlington Drive which comes up with great reviews. It's in the Fairfax County area of Alex, not the city of Alex. The La Mexicana in Germantown on YELP has only been reviewed two times and is rated 2 stars only out of 5. So I doubt that is it.

                                                    1. re: drake0388
                                                      woodleyparkhound Nov 6, 2011 06:38 AM

                                                      Thanks. This must be it:

                                                      http://www.yelp.com/biz/la-mexicana-b...

                                                      1. re: woodleyparkhound
                                                        m
                                                        mdpilam Nov 6, 2011 07:20 AM

                                                        This is correct. The Chowhound link needs to be corrected.

                                                        1. re: woodleyparkhound
                                                          h
                                                          hppyheather Nov 6, 2011 07:20 AM

                                                          That is it! It is on "arlington drive" which is the street right across from the Honda dealership. You'll see a checkers and a safeway, and it is behind the checkers. It doesn't look like much, but yes, after I discovered it I still think it is the best California-style Mexican in DC.

                                                          1. re: hppyheather
                                                            m
                                                            mdpilam Nov 6, 2011 07:22 AM

                                                            The owners are actually from CA (Santa Ana, I believe).

                                                          2. re: woodleyparkhound
                                                            monkeyrotica Nov 6, 2011 04:11 PM

                                                            Yup. That's the place. If you just type "La Mexicana" it'll go to the Germantown address. You need the full blown "La Mexicana Bakery and Tacqueria." There is no relation between the two apart from a similar name.

                                                            -----
                                                            La Mexicana Bakery and Tacqueria
                                                            2907 Arlington Dr, Alexandria, VA 22306

                                                    2. re: mdpilam
                                                      m
                                                      Murphen Nov 6, 2011 09:14 AM

                                                      Here's yet another vote for La Mexicana as the best taqueria around. I'm unashamed to admit that I'm a burrito snob - I grew-up in Santa Cruz (with a strong allegiance to Taqueria Vallarta), and frequented El Farrolito and all the other stand-bys in San Francisco - and La Mexicana's is the best I've tasted outside Northern California. The tacos may be even better (especially when they include lengua or the crispy and tasty carne asada). The tortas are a great vehicle for the carnitas; the fantastic bread soaks up all the tasty drippings.

                                                      1. re: mdpilam
                                                        tommyskitchen Nov 7, 2011 07:01 AM

                                                        The first time I had the ahogada, I couldn't believe I had waited so long to try it - And it was really hard ordering anything else after that. Each time, the spice is perfect - It takes me ALMOST over the edge, teeters me very close to the point of no return. The Last time I had one a few weeks ago, the woman came out of the kitchen and asked me about it - She thought it may have been a bit Spicy and was going to tone it down - I asked to to leave it Exactly how it is!

                                                        1. re: tommyskitchen
                                                          monkeyrotica Nov 7, 2011 08:28 AM

                                                          Same here. She warned me of the spiciness, and it was spicy, but in a good way. And the heat is offset by the coolness of the crema, lettuce, and avocado. That's the mark of a superior cook; they actively seek out feedback on whether the food is too much of this or not enough of that.

                                                        2. re: mdpilam
                                                          biscuit Dec 10, 2011 09:11 PM

                                                          I finally had the Torta as well and it was worth breaking my seeming unbreakable Carne Asada Taco fix for. Totally amazing. Fresh baked bread and ingredients. Every bite pops in your mouth with flavor. So good!

                                                      2. o
                                                        oceancrest67 Nov 6, 2011 11:06 AM

                                                        We like Mexico Restaurant in Waldorf, MD off of 301. It is in a shopping area next to a Panera Bread but it is very good in our opinion. Fresh house made chips and salsa and fresh tortillas made in house. We have never been disappointed. They have two or three other locations and are a family run business. The service has always been friendly and consistent and the food fresh and hot.

                                                        -----
                                                        Panera
                                                        6700 Richmond Hwy, Alexandria, VA 22306

                                                        1. h
                                                          Hillbeans Nov 14, 2011 08:30 AM

                                                          We haven't found many Mexican places in DC/NOVA that were fantastic although we did go to La Mexicana Bakery and Taqueria in Alexandria, VA and thought is was very good. Why does it seem good authentic Mexican food is hard to find everywhere? We were recently in Las Vegas and were very disappointed with a place that was highly recommended by the locals and tourists. Has anyone else experienced this?

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: Hillbeans
                                                            m
                                                            mdpilam Nov 14, 2011 09:16 AM

                                                            You need to go to places that have a high population of Mexicans (ie, California, esp. LA).

                                                            Vegas food is more about the atmosphere (see and be seen) than the actual food.

                                                            1. re: mdpilam
                                                              h
                                                              Hillbeans Nov 14, 2011 12:06 PM

                                                              You are absolutely right about both.

                                                          2. woodleyparkhound Nov 20, 2011 05:15 PM

                                                            Just got back from La Mexicana and I'm in a food coma. I went with two friends, one who was nice enough to drive. It was really far away (from DC); I was surprised at how long it took us to get there. I would be a regular if I lived nearby. We shared sopes, tamales, tacos with carne asada and the torta ahogada with carnitas. I also had a horchata (they had other drinks). The sopes were my favorite of all we ordered. I loved those corn griddle cakes - just delicious. The man working there, who couldn't have been nicer, warned me several times that the torta was spicy. I said that was fine. Well, turns out that he was telling the truth. Wow - it nearly blew my head off, and I really like spicy food. I was able to eat it, but just barely. My ideal level of heat is below what that sandwich achieved. The guy working there says that he is unable to eat it. Mind you, I liked it a lot, but the heat level really took me by surprise, even though I had been repeatedly warned. The tacos were wonderful - loved the tortillas and the carne asada. The tamales were rather dry. The horchata was OK but I don't think I'd get it again. We all rolled out of there and I got leftovers for lunch tomorrow - all for $48.

                                                            In short, I really loved this place. This is exactly why I love Chowhound. I would never have known about this place if it weren't for this thread, so thanks -- and my friends loved it too!

                                                            4 Replies
                                                            1. re: woodleyparkhound
                                                              h
                                                              hamster Nov 20, 2011 07:02 PM

                                                              We felt the same way about the torta ahogada! Too spicy for me. I *loved* the carnitas tacos, would go back in a heartbeat if I had a car.

                                                              1. re: woodleyparkhound
                                                                monkeyrotica Nov 21, 2011 04:32 AM

                                                                You can probably shave a few minutes off the drive from DC by taking as much of the GW Parkway as possible and avoiding Route 1. That road is notoriously backed up on the weekend.

                                                                Next time you're down there, save some room and give Tacos El Costalilla a try as well. It's a mile south of La Mexicana and serves some excellent Jalisco style steamed tacos filled with lengua, buche, tripe, and assorted "nasty bits." Ask for "tortilla fresca" and they will hand pat a fresh tortilla just for you.

                                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/700626

                                                                -----
                                                                Tacos El Costalilla
                                                                7862 Richmond Hwy, Alexandria, VA 22306

                                                                1. re: woodleyparkhound
                                                                  m
                                                                  mdpilam Nov 21, 2011 10:40 AM

                                                                  If you get a chance, try their Maracuya - passion fruit - drink (if they have it), it's delicious.

                                                                  1. re: woodleyparkhound
                                                                    tommyskitchen Nov 21, 2011 02:36 PM

                                                                    Believe it or not, they just toned down the spice on the Torta, according the woman who made mine a couple of weeks ago - And yes, mine was not quite as spicy then as it has been in the past! And of course, the Food Coma is mandatory - I have never been and ordered "light".

                                                                    And do what "monkey" says a few posts up and try Costalilla, you'll love it!

                                                                  2. luckyfatima Dec 10, 2011 05:41 PM

                                                                    After reading this thread I just HAD to get to La Mexicana Bakery and Taquería. I am so glad I did, thanks CHers for the rec! Totally wonderful. I am from Texas and this is exactly the way our food tastes. I have missed this type of food desperately since I have come here. I shared a chicken sope and a torta ahogada with a friend. The friendly owner happily made our sandwich with chicken since we don't eat pork. The sandwich was out of this world. So delicious and spicy. I love the way the bread tasted soaked in the spicy sauce. The heat level worked well for me but my friend's face turned red and she couldn't finish her half of the sandwich (so I finished it off for her hehehe). The sope was good, too. This place is la mera cosa. It is a far drive for me but I will be looking for excuses to go back again and again for a taste of home.

                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                    1. re: luckyfatima
                                                                      s
                                                                      Steve Dec 10, 2011 08:08 PM

                                                                      Next time you are in the area, you may want to try the huaraches con birria at El Costalilla, a few minutes drive down rte. 1.

                                                                      1. re: Steve
                                                                        luckyfatima Dec 11, 2011 05:52 AM

                                                                        El Costalilla is definitely on my hit list, I am dying to try their tacos al vapor, too.

                                                                      2. re: luckyfatima
                                                                        biscuit Dec 10, 2011 09:07 PM

                                                                        I recently discovered La Mexicana has a Facebook page that I believe the son updates.

                                                                        http://www.facebook.com/pages/La-Mexi...

                                                                        1. re: biscuit
                                                                          luckyfatima Dec 11, 2011 05:51 AM

                                                                          Just *liked* it. Thanks.

                                                                          1. re: biscuit
                                                                            tommyskitchen Dec 11, 2011 06:31 AM

                                                                            Cool, Thanks - I had no idea! And I see they Deliver - Shoot, I am in Big Trouble!!!

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