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Feb 19, 2002 09:12 PM

Mexican in DC

  • w

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

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  1. 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

      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. 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

        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

          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. 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

          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

            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. 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. 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.


            8 Replies
            1. re: Jeffrey

              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.

                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.

                  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

                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

                  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

                    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.

                      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

                  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.