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Jan 12, 2006 09:49 AM

Authentic Mexican Taquerias

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I have been in the DC area for two years and can't find anyone who can recommend places to eat burritos like the taquerias I loved when I lived in San Francisco for 10 years. Can anyone point me in the right direction here in DC? My cravings are killing me.

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  1. Where? Two words: Leetle Mehico.

    Go to Riverdale and take your pick: La Sirenita, Taqueria Tres Reyes, El Tapatio, etc. Someone mentioned recently -- was it Steve? -- the tacos at Taqueria La Placitas. Must have been an off day when I was there, but I would certainly go back to try it again.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Denton

      And you're not going to find anything like what's in SF. Sorry about that. You can find more Salvadoran places, though, some Peruvian, and even a little Bolivian.

      There are some other places in DC (Pepito's in Adams Morgan for instance) and Arlington (El Charitto Caminante) though that you could check out.

      1. re: Denton

        Just to note that I had a taco al pastor at La Placita, which was top notch, but I can't vouch for the other fillings.

        For the OP, all I can say is that I don't eat burritos. But the number one order at an authentic mexican taqueria in this area would be the goat taco El Charrito Caminante in Arlington, followed by the taco al pastor at La Placita.

        Other possibilities, which I don't like as well, but are certainly cheap enough to try and decide for yourself are Pepito's in Adams Morgan and Distrito Federal up on 14th St.

        1. re: Steve

          Is the quality at El Charrito Caminante still high? I seem to recall some recent posts stating that the food had slipped somewhat.

          1. re: Bob

            I think they had a bad spell a couple of months back. But they've been back on track the last three times I've been. I pretty much stick with the goat, though I've had other excellent itemes like the red beans, rice, plaintains, papusas, and the sub de galina, which is a monster.

            1. re: Steve

              yeah, the last time for me at TECC was normally great, a big ol pork burrito with their hot sauce (which they now give you on the side when you order "picante", I guess they don't wanna hear custs complaining of the improper heat level)
              If the older woman is there cooking, the one who always wore a Red Sox cap before they brought in their own fashionwear, it'll be fine

              BTW fans of salt will like the salty beef taco at La Sirenita

              1. re: Jamie D

                Pretty sure the woman you're speaking of is his mom. His dad is usually around, too, and is the one who drives the dually.

                When he first moved from the cart to the storefront (and occasionally in the cart before the move), his girlfriend did a lot of the work, too, but I think she's long gone now.

            2. re: Bob

              El Charrito is still good. Been there a lot lately. Maybe a slight downward change...but not that much.

              1. re: Bob

                I get takeout every other week or so from there and I have not noticed the quality slipping. Their food is pretty darn good (I would also most say great for around DC. They'd be pretty average in SF). However, I wish they would make their burrito's a bit bigger. I really like the different choices of meats (e.g., tongue and goat).

                1. re: Soup

                  Well that's one of the downhill slides, though. The burrittos used to be larger when he was in the trailer and soon after moving to the store front. I've found the tacos have stayed about the same in quality and size.

          2. Well, San Francisco sort of has the market cornered where this is concerned. You may be interested in giving Ercilia's a try on Columbia Rd. in Mt. Pleasant. (The neighborhood is a bit like the Mission in SF, perhaps?) The atmosphere is similar to some of the places my sister and brother-in-law take me to when I visit SF. There is also a small burrito place on the same road a couple blocks up called Burritos Fast. I love the proprietors and for the East coast, not a bad burrito. I believe both of these spots are El Salvadorean.

            They both have bottles sauces which are pretty good but not a whole lot in the way of the fresh made stuff that makes you want stay there all day and keep eating.

            1. I believe Denton also put this but Riverdale area in MD has some great places. He mentioned T. Reyes and it is good. Alamo is also good but more a resturant.

              I also frequent a place on close to the corner of N. Pershing and Washington Blvd. I don't recall the name but it is next to the 7/11 on Washington Blvd.

              I haven't come across anything that is as good as the places I've had in Berlingame, or redwood city but these places get the job done for me.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Soup

                The place at N. Pershing and Washington Blvd in arlington is Taqueria El Charrito Caminante (TECC). Good place.

                1. re: Soup

                  I like Alamo, but having lived in the Bay Area and having a girlfriend from Texas, I would definitely say it's Tex-Mex and not Cali-Mex (I guess the name is also a giveaway). It's worth a visit, but you should be expecting San Antonio not San Francisco.

                  Sirenita, Tres Reyes and the other taquerias in Riverdale are great. I personally think they do tacos better than burritos; I haven't found anything here that's as good as a burrito in the Mission.

                  1. re: jrsmoltz

                    (sorry, I just realized that I replied to a post that's almost 2 years old.)

                2. What's been deficient in the places you've tried (name names!)

                  I must say, I just don't get what the big deal about what makes the California burrito something special-- is the beans? The rice? The flour in the tortilla? The way the meat is prepared?

                  Last time I was in SF, I made a point of asking around about a great representative burrito place and was sent to La Taqueria in the Mission. I got beef and the result was a gloppy mess of a thing with a flavor that was nothing special. In fact it was too much beef and not much else. Not "bad" mind you, but not something earth shatteringly better than what Chipotle serves up. Truly what *am* I missing here?

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: W. G.

                    For me, an Angeleno, what's missing from most local burritos and what makes a burrito, California style is the wetness. A California style burrito should be covered with a sauce, mostly ranchero and impossible to eat with your hands. The second thing is the availability of a salsa that's actually spicy. Oh, and having machaca as a filling would be nice.

                    1. re: ChowFun

                      FYI, the salsa at TECC is very hot indeed.

                      The confusing part of this thread is that it's hard to detemine if the OP is asking for authentic Mexican or authentic Californian.

                      1. re: Steve

                        I really like TECC and their salsa is very spicy. There doesn't have to be a difference between Mexican and Californian (especially South of San Luis Obispo). Californian is just one authentic style of Mexican food among many. Remember, the burrito is not a very old invention. For me, the best places, that I have been to, in the area for Mexican food are TECC, El Tapatio and Taqueria Tres Reyes II (by the way, where is the original? It isn't in Riverdale, at least not in the little Mexico area.)

                        1. re: ChowFun

                          I don't know offhand which is the original TTR, but in addition to the Bladensburg location, there is one inside the Beltway plaza mall on Greenbelt Rd.

                          Also nearby, on eastbound Greenbelt Rd. a few blocks west of the mall is Costa Alegre, another good Mex place with tacos, soups, and tortas.

                  2. I've enjoyed reading this tread. It got me to think though, any thoughts on good Food Trucks in DC or NOVA that serve Taqueria fair? Locations during lunch hours would be appreciated.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Soup

                      look for taco trucks at the following S Arlington locations. they all serve good tacos in my experience. I'm not sure exactly when you can count on them to be there, but I've hit #2 and #4 for a weekday lunch
                      1. off the north side of Columbia Pike just west of the 4 Mile Run bridge
                      2. 4 Mile Run Dr between Shirlington Rd and Walter Reed Dr.
                      3. behind the Giant (the one on S Glebe Rd between W Glebe Rd and Mt Vernon Ave, in Arna Valley) by the Gunston soccer fields, especially during soccer season on the weekends.
                      4. next to the Weenie Beenie on Shirlington Rd

                      I've seen a taco VAN on the west side of Glebe Rd just south of Pershing Dr in Buckingham, but it's been a while and I never tried it

                      good luck!

                      1. re: Jamie D

                        El Tapatio Experience: Based on the Chowhounder rec's to try an authentic taco place, since we were in Riverdale, we went to El Tapatio. It was an experience -- we'd just come from a memorial service and my husband and son were in coat and tie -- maybe that's why the owner kicked a couple of slackers out of their table to make room for us. How could we refuse, even though we were right in front of the Mexican Karoke speakers? We were the only ones who clapped after each song (encouraging the singer was not in our best interest, we were just trying to be polite). I definitely enjoyed my tacos -- the plainer ones (slighty cheaper on the menu than the ones in a red sauce) being the favorite as they were just loaded with crispy bits. The boys ordered Tex-Mex dishes like enchiladlas and burritos -- definitely do NOT order that stuff there. I would ask what else I might order to go with the tacos, but not sure there will be a next time, particularly after the report back on the state of the men's room!