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The Best Mexican Restaurants in Washington, D.C.

Courtesy of Espita Mezcaleria DC
Picture of Aparna Krishnamoorthy
Updated: 17 June 2017
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For a long time, Washington, D.C. did not have a lot of good Mexican food. But over the past few years, plenty of spots have opened up or stepped up their game, so now you can definitely find flavorful Mexican fare here. Some places are fancy, while others are casual—either way, they are tasty. Here are the best sit-down spots.

La Puerta Verde

Restaurant, Mexican, Spanish, Vegetarian, $$$
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One of the newest restaurants on this list, La Puerta Verde, located in the booming Ivy City neighborhood, has already made quite a name for itself. Freshly made tortillas make for incredible tacos, but their appetizers and main course plates are all as enticing. The elote (street corn) is a favorite, as is the “Esquites con Camarones”—shrimp on grilled bread topped with corn and tequila butter. Meat lovers should get the “Carne Arrachera”—grilled beef skirt steak, chorizo, cactus paddle, tomatillo, spring onions, queso fresco, and jalapeño. Their bar is no joke either; try the “Mezgroni,” a creative take on the Negroni, made with mezcal instead.
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Taqueria Habanero

Restaurant, Mexican, Vegetarian, Vegan, $$$
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Taqueria Habanero, Washington, DC
Taqueria Habanero, Washington, DC | Courtesy of Taqueria Habanero

At Taqueria Habanero, you can get delicious, authentic Mexican food in a somewhat no-frills atmosphere. Feast on the fish tacos, the chicken enchiladas, and a Michelada—you’ll feel as though you’re in Mexico. It’s a popular place, so there might be a wait; however, it’s worth it.
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Mon - Thu:
11:00 am - 10:00 pm
Fri - Sat:
11:00 am - 11:00 pm
Sun:
11:00 am - 10:00 pm

Meal service:

Lunch, Dinner

Atmosphere:

Casual

Tacos El Chilango

Restaurant, Mexican, Vegetarian, Spanish, $$$
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Tacos at El Chilango
Tacos at El Chilango | Courtesy of El Chilango

Tacos El Chilango, known for their authentic tacos and aguas frescas, is an eatery in an unassuming storefront and a spinoff from a food truck. Favorites are the chorizo and the lengua, but they also have a variety of vegetarian tacos that are tasty. They also offer a killer assortment of sauces that are not for the spice-averse!
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Mon - Thu:
4:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Fri - Sat:
4:00 pm - 10:30 pm

Meal service:

Dinner

Atmosphere:

Casual

Espita Mezcaleria

Restaurant, Mexican, Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten-free, $$$
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Espita
Espita | Courtesy of Espita

Espita Mezcaleria is a hip spot in the Shaw neighborhood that has one of the largest collections of mezcal in the area and focuses on food from the Oaxaca region of Mexico. That means delicious moles, lots of heirloom corn, tlayudas, oversized bean tortillas topped with the likes of crab and avocado, house-made green chorizo, and more great stuff, all set against a backdrop of murals painted by Yescka, a popular Oaxacan street artist.
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Mon - Thu:
11:00 am - 2:00 pm
Mon - Thu:
4:00 pm - 12:00 am
Fri:
11:00 am - 2:00 pm
Fri:
4:00 pm - 2:00 am
Sat:
10:30 am - 2:00 am
Sat:
10:30 am - 10:00 pm

Meal service:

All Day

Taqueria Los Compadres

Restaurant, Mexican, Vegetarian, $$$
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Ceviche
Ceviche | Courtesy of Los Compadres

The Taqueria Los Compadres is a family-owned spot that is a bit of a secret (so far)—but not for long. Their homemade and home-style Mexican food is comfort at its best. From squash blossom and huitlacoche tacos to sopes, tamales, and enchiladas, there is something for everyone. The fresh salsas and accompaniments are just as delicious.
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Mezcalero

Restaurant, Mexican, Vegetarian, $$$
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Mezcalero
Mezcalero | Courtesy of Mezcalero

Another new addition to the city’s Mexican food scene is Mezcalero, which is extremely popular for its street tacos, huaraches, tortas, and quesadillas. Their extensive menu not only has favorites that you will recognize, but it also has a lot of Mexican specialties not commonly found in other restaurants.
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El Chucho

Restaurant, Mexican, Vegetarian, $$$
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El Chucho
El Chucho | Courtesy of El Chucho

A favorite stop, complete with a fantastic happy hour, El Chucho’s elote itself makes it worth a stop, but don’t miss trying out their drinks or a torta on their rooftop patio space. It makes for a great spot to wind down at the end of a summer day.
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Mon - Thu:
4:00 pm - 2:00 am
Fri:
4:00 pm - 3:00 am
Sat:
11:00 am - 3:00 am
Sun:
11:00 am - 2:00 am

Meal service:

All Day

Atmosphere:

Casual

El Sol

Restaurant, Mexican, Spanish, Vegetarian, $$$
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El Sol Restaurante & Tequileria, Washington, DC
El Sol Restaurante & Tequileria, Washington, DC | Courtesy of El Sol

Taking a family-style approach, but crafted by a professional chef, the food at El Sol is some of the freshest and most authentic Mexican food around. Diners rave about this restaurant’s queso fundido, handmade tortillas and tacos, and a fantastic three-course brunch. Don’t let the location and small space fool you.
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Mon - Thu:
10:00 am - 11:30 pm
Fri - Sat:
10:00 am - 1:00 am
Sun:
10:00 am - 11:30 pm

Meal service:

All Day

Atmosphere:

Casual

Oyamel

Restaurant, Mexican, Tapas, Vegetarian, Vegan, $$$
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Oyamel Cocina Mexicana, Washington, DC
Oyamel Cocina Mexicana, Washington, DC | Courtesy of Oyamel

On the fancier side of Mexican restaurants in D.C., celebrity chef Jose Andres’ Oyamel features an array of traditional Mexican small plates that will transport your taste buds to Mexico. The salt air-topped margarita and tableside guacamole make for a great start, and the selection of tacos to follow continues the feast. It’s a great date night option.
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Mon - Wed:
11:00 am - 12:00 am
Thu - Sat:
11:00 am - 2:00 am
Sun:
11:00 am - 12:00 am

Meal service:

All Day

Atmosphere:

Modern, Romantic

Gringos and Mariachis

Bar, Restaurant, Mexican, Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-free, $$$
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Gringos & Mariachis, Bethesda
Gringos & Mariachis, Bethesda | Courtesy of Gringos and Mariachis

Gringos and Mariachis is a dark and sultry spot that has sparkly chandeliers, tufted booths, and Day of the Dead murals on its walls. While the décor is eye-catching and impressive, the food is too! Choose from al pastor, carnitas, or barbacoa tacos or other Mexican classics such as chiles rellenos, enchiladas, mole poblano, and more. The coconut flan is a sweet ending to an excellent meal!
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Sun:
11:30 am - 10:30 pm
Mon:
11:30 am - 11:00 pm
Tue:
11:30 am - 11:00 pm
Wed:
11:30 am - 11:00 pm
Thu:
11:30 am - 11:00 pm
Fri:
11:30 am - 12:00 am
Sat:
11:30 am - 12:00 am

Meal service:

All Day

Atmosphere:

Arty
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