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Great South American or Mexican in downtown DC?

Hi there, I'm heading to DC next week on business. Would love some recommendations on where to go for great South American or Mexican food in the downtown area (I'm staying near Mt. Vernon Square in the Penn Quarter District). Won't have a car but am willing to cab it anywhere! Also, would love some suggestions of where to get great crab cakes (that isn't too far away).

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  1. For Mexican, I think you are out of luck. For Salvadorean, El Rinconcito or Tortilla Cafe are good -- "great", maybe not.

    1. You could brave the often salty menu at Oyamel. Definitely go for the ceviche with passionfruit. After that, the chile en nogada is a seasonal specialty. Used to be great, but I don't know how it has fared recently.

      In Adams Morgan, not 'downtown'. Casa Oaxaca has really good enmolados.

      I highly recommend the carne deshilada at El Rinconcito. the tamales and papusas are also good Everything else is only ok, but this is nether Mexican or South American.

      Mio's is Puerto Rican and generally pan-Latin. Elegant place. Really good arepas and fish. They have a special Friday night PR menu (7 -9pm), but I have not tried it.

      There are other options, I suppose, but not worth a cab ride.

      1. I'm a big fan of Oyamel for mexican. I know there are a few on here that repeatedly say it is salty. I have on rare occasions had a dish that is too salty - I think it's mostly if you eat too many of their chips. The tuna/pecan ceviche is great, as is the carnitas taco (which chicaronnes on top), roasted brussel sprout dish, and a dish with green salasa and homemade tortillas with cheese ( can't recall the name).
        Also, in a somewhat similar vein to your request is Ceiba, which is a Latin American restaurant. They're best know for their fejoada (sp?) which is fabulous. Have not tried much else there though.

        4 Replies
        1. re: erinnf

          Thanks for the suggestions everyone.... we're from Toronto and it's the one cuisine we don't have a lot of up here (and are always on the hunt for when we cross the border!). One of my colleagues is determined to find the best crab cake in DC... and recommendations?

          1. re: fanaticfoodie

            My standard-bearer is the broiled version at Oohs and Aahs.

            1. re: fanaticfoodie

              DC Coast or Blacksalt if on either menu at the moment would be a good choice for a crabcake.

              1. re: fanaticfoodie

                Blue crab season runs from April to December, so what you'll get is canned SE Asian crabmeat. My favorite is at Sullivan's Seafood, but they seem to have closed. My second current favorite is Jimmy's Grill at the Maine Avenue Fish Market.

            2. El Chalan is pretty good Peruvian food, on I St. between 19th & 20th. 20 minute walk from you or a very short cab ride.

              1. Although not really Mexican, since you're staying nearby, you should not miss the pork cheek nachos (or the shredded duck lettuce wraps or homemade kimchee hot dog at The Passenger. They also have fantastic cocktails. Don't be put off by the divey atmosphere. The food is good (except for the shrimp tacos, which are just OK).