I finally found authentic California Mexican!!
Fellow chowhounds, I had to announce that finally -- after 5 years -- I have found delicious authentic California style Mexican food. It is called "La Mexicana Bakery & Tacqueria" and is located off of route 1 in a strip mall -- a few miles south of old town. Address is 2907 Arlington Dr Alexandria, VA.
I moved to DC 5 years ago, and I have been missing California Mexican food every day. Here, in this little tacqueria, they have authentic tacos and burritos. My husband and I were skeptical, thinking that this would just be another place that *promised* good Mexican food but would not deliver. We thought of ordering the tacos, but felt we'd go with the burritos as a safe bet for our first meal here. He ordered the carnitas in a burrito, and I ordered carne asada. The food was not what I could consider cheap ($8 a burrito - though for a large burrito), but for how delicious it was, I would pay four times that! The carnitas were soft, juicy, with the perfect balance of crispyness. The carne asada was some of the best I've had (comparable with El Toro in Santa Ana), where you got some of the smoky/charred flavor, but the meat was still soft and tender. The rice in the burrito was perfectly fluffy. A perfect pico de gallo, with a good amount of cilantro. And that authentic melty mexican cheese. All thrown together in a tortilla that is both steamed and grilled, so that it is both chewy and crispy as all good California burritos are. We saw some other people order the tacos and they looked as happy and blissful as we did as they enjoyed their double-corn + meat + cilantro + onions (a perfect California taco).
Don't expect much from the ambiance. It is more of a take out bakery, with some card tables to sit at. The guy who runs it though was SUPER nice, speaks perfect English, and is from Orange County, CA. If you, like me, have been craving California style Mexican food, make the trek out to this little place and you will not regret it!!!
I can confirm...I've been going here for 5 years or so and have always had both good food and pleasant experiences interacting with the owner.
For those not familiar with this area, it's on Rt. 1, south of the beltway. As you head south, there's a big Safeway on the left. La Mexicana is in the next shopping center right after that, kind of hidden away behind a KFC and Checkers.
13016 Middlebrook Rd, Germantown, MD 20874