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Little Mexico - Post article

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Once again, only weeks after really showing up here on CH, the Post covers what some hounds uncovered, the area over in Bladensburg with El Tapatio and others.

When we went to check the two restos that were getting attention here, we saw Taco Rico which gets mention in the article and so many many more. I meant to post and ask if anyone had gone to any others besides the two that were posted about frequently.

Now is my chance - has anyone gone? What's the verdict?

Link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/...

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  1. Full disclosure - I haven't gone to Taco Rico, so this post doesn't answer your immediate question. I went to El Tapatio shortly after its mention in CH, but unfortunately not before it got listed in the Washingtonian's Cheap Eats. Given its appearance in mainstream publications, has anyone gone recently? Any reports on whether it has suffered as a result of the publicity from the Washingtonian? I've been meaning to go back but just haven't made it. I really loved the chorizo tacos, and the enchiladas were also good. My next task is to tackle the chiles rellenos.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Courtney T.

      It was actually first reviewed in the Washingtonian back in May before the supsequent Cheap Eats write up, then Kliman wrote a piece on Little Mexico for the City Paper, which is how it came about being discussed on Chowhound. I went to El Tapatio in early June, I had the enchiladas w/mole sauce, which was enjoyable, though not the best rendition of this dish I've had. My friend got a burrito, which wasn't all that great (he probably should've gotten tacos instead). I'd like to get up there more often but it's difficult without a car (hell it's difficult enough with a car).

      1. re: Courtney T.

        Was at El Tapatio about two weeks ago on a Tuesday (2nd visit). It was full but we were the only non-Mexicans, so I don't think it was the result of recent press. As mentioned today, service IS very slow (even when they are not full). None of the other customers seem to notice or they don't mind a lot of waiting. The goat, of course, is a must. I think the tacos and chiles rellenos are better at La Sirenita however. At either place, if your get the seafood soup, make it very clear you want it SPICY. Also, my wife is a regular morning customer at La Flor de Pueblo bakery on her AM commute: loves it and is now hooked (I take Metro so I get the regular reports second hand).

      2. I enjoyed the dark mole poblano at El Tapatio and the guacamole with tortilla chips. They have nice, small corn tortillas. Strange, though - they only offer decaf coffee not caf. Nice to be in a place where most of the people were Mexican.

        3 Replies
        1. re: foodiejudy

          Curious, how did you know they were Mexican and not some other Central American nationality?

          There is a small place called Jalisco's 8601 block or thereabouts of Richmond Highway Rt 1 South (on left leaving Alexandria across from Safeway), with tacos (and not much else) of the style shown in pictures of this article. VERY limited menu, tacos very tasty, though, and cheap. Not Salvadoran. Save room, as they do have an excellent Tres Leches dessert. In the strip mall across from it, a Mexican bakery owned by same, somewhat substandard in my opinion. They often have REAL fried out porkskin.

          Come to think of it, there is also a Taco Bell in the vicinity. Maybe I'll christen the area "Little Mexico II" and sell an article to the Post....

          1. re: Roberto64

            HA, that was one of my questions from the Post article as well.

            I'm still curious how the two restos got picked up here the most and not Taco Rico or any of the others that I saw littered throughout that area. I was wondering if those others were substandard, etc. And I still haven't heard anyone speak up about other places. I made the trip out there one day, but due to distance, those do have to be Saturday half day trips and I can only cover so much. So far it's only been Tapatio for me, which had passing but not raving marks.

            I don't think, though, that two places make a defined area as you propose, and I agree with where I think you came from, which is the name from the Post was pretty "cute" and made for the paper. If we continued down the path of naming these areas, we'd be up to our armpits with them. Is Clarendon Little Southeast Asia? Four Mile Run and Columbia Pike area Little Salvador? Annandale Little Korea?

            But the tip sounds nice and worth investigating.

            1. re: Dennis S

              Jalisco is only worth it if you are about 10 minutes or so away or are here for another reason (ie heading to Potomac Mills that way). I think it is a better choice than the similiar, but slightly more upscale taqueria on Mount Vernon Ave (Poblanos or something like that) which occasionally gets written up in the Post--that place is overpriced. Stick with the different taco types, they have 4 or 5. You can get stuffed here for under $10. The pico is very good and they used to put out a cast iron charro bean maker as an all you can eat condiment, but I didn't see it last time. The tres leches, if the same as I have gotten there for the last couple of years, is the best around, in fact, extends the worth-it drive range to 15 minutes. Skip any "Mexican" food places on the way there, poor examples of Tex-Mex.

        2. In addition to El Taptio and La Sirenita, I have also been to Pollo Fiesta, The Alamo, and La Flor de Pueblo Bakery. The bakery is a local treasure. Pollo Fiesta is very good and dirt cheap but has the atmosphere and decor of a fast food burger joint - I now go there strictly for take-out. The Alamo, under its new owners, is much better than it was years ago but not worthy of a trip from VA.

          There are a dozen or more Mexican restaurants in the Bladensburg/Riverdale area that have opened in the last five years. A lot of the new places just are not that inviting (typically a run-down storefront operation with only 1/2 dozen tables).

          So, I will continue to return to El Taptio and (especially) La Sirenita until I've exhausted the menus (I also like the live music).

          Hype? I don't know, but IMO these are better Mexican than what I've found elsewhere. Also a welcome change of pace from the plethora of Central American restaurants in the Langly Park area.

          I understand your hesitation - I'm in College Park so it takes a LOT for a restaurant to get me to cross the river (though a handful of places do....)

          1 Reply
          1. re: Rosco

            Thanks for the tips! My fiance works over there though, so she can investigate and then of course I do end up over there every couple of months.

            I remember seeing the Alamo and thinking it wasn't worth it most likely. I'll pass on the info re: Pollo Fiesta. We like those types of places, having been a El Charro mainstay while he was still in the wagon outside the ABC.

            I'm also still curious about a hound report for Taco Rico as that looked intriguing to us as we pondered which one we were going to hit first.