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Latin American (read: not Mexican) places

I'm new to the DC area (and this board) and am searching for some good Latin American places to eat. I searched the boards and didn't come up with anything so far, so I hope I'm not repeating a past topic. I'm basically looking for any small, authentic restaurants serving Latin American cuisines.

I was just in Nicaragua for a few months and am dying to find the same food back here - gallo pinto, maduros, vigorĂ³n, etc. I would settle for any good Latin/Southern American places near Arlington or the DC area - I'm willing to travel a little if it means there's an amazing comedor somewhere.

Thanks in advance for any help!

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  1. Though it may be a little far, Las Delicias in Annapolis serves authentic and sometimes amazing Salvadoran food. The place is usually crowded with Salvadorans (a good sign).

    1. In DC, you should get to the Columbia Heights/Mount Pleasant neighborhoods, which are dominated by Salvadoran and Guatemalans. Riconcito II on Park in Col Hghts gets CH recommendations a lot. You could try a few of the places up and down Mt. Pleasant Rd to decide what you like (Ercilia's, Don Juan's, Don Jaime's etc), and there's El Tamarindo at the Florida/18th/U St intersection. All these kinds of places have Mexican on the menu, but do Central American food better. Might not be exactly like Nicaraguan, but worth a try.

      1. Salvadoran:
        Ercilia's in Mt Pleasant,DC excellent loroco papusas, hisquito relleno
        EL Rincincito Dos for the carne deshilada and tamales.
        Luzmilla's in Falls Church, VA
        Costa Verde in N.Arlington, Fish in white onion sauce
        Machu Picchu in S. Arlington, squid in its own ink, lomo saltado

        1. I was on a similar quest for gallo pinto after traveling to CR and Nicaragua and didn't come up with much, but if you are not familiar with this website, it might be of some use:

          3 Replies
          1. re: elbows

            You can get Salza Lizano at that Latino market on Mt. Pleasant (named something like Progreso Internacional?) Gallo pinto isn't hard to make -- I think I may have the Tia Florita recipe (she's like the Betty Crocker {!} of Costa Rica), if you're interested....

            Fresh pejibayes are what I really miss (I've never tried them in a jar).

            1. re: mselectra

              Oh, pejibayes are so yummy. Where can you get them in a jar?

              1. re: mselin

                Aren't they great?! Now I'm not sure if I've seen them in the States, but if I have it was at the Mt. Pleasant supermarket I mentioned above (and in the Salsa Lizano thread). I have thought about bringing back a jar from CR, but never have done it -- for some reason, the idea of them like that isn't very appealing, but maybe I should try sometime. I'll check next time I'm at the market here in my neighborhood and let you know.

          2. You might want to try Cafe Salsa in Old Town, Alexandria. It's not a hole in the wall type of place. It is kinda trendy. Moderatly priced.

            1. Add La Caranquena (sp?) in Falls Church to your list for Arepas and Saltenas and etc, I really liked it, lacking in atmosphere but the food and staff more than make up for it.

              In Courthouse Gua-Rapos is ok, good for happy hour specials, you might try it, but it isn't near as good as La Caranquena.

              Taqueria El Charrito Camiente (did I switch the last two CCs?) TECC has good pupusas.

              Also for more high end try Cafe Atlantico, I had brunch, not the dim sum it was an inagural thing, and had their Eggs Benedicto which was great, and they have a lot of other good things. Also Cieba is good for high end latin flavor, although niether are exactly authentic probably they are both very good.

              1. Anywhere around here that specializes in house-made arepas? Not pupusas, I mean arepas? Maybe someone from New York should come down and start up a place...

                2 Replies
                1. re: jkosnett

                  La Caraquena (again sp) in Falls Church has house made Arepas.

                  1. re: ktmoomau

                    The arepas at La Caraquena are Venezuelan-style, served as sandwiches with various fillings. Very good. I suggest the reina papeada (like chicken and avocado salad) or the domino (black beans and white cheese).

                2. Seems to me that there are dozens of these kinds of places in Takoma Park, Silver Spring and Wheaton, am I wrong?