5 Places To Get Great Mexican Food

Where to find the best Mexican food in DC.
5 Places To Get Great Mexican Food image

photo credit: Scott Suchman

Finding good Mexican food in DC is as challenging as finding parking on street sweeping day. We’re not saying it’s impossible, but it’s really, really tough. The truth is the best taquerias are outside the city. But there are a few spots we can count on when the going gets tough, or the price of gas is too damn high to go more than a few blocks. From tacos to tortas, consommé to flautas, these are your go-tos for top-notch Mexican food.


photo credit: Scott Suchman


U Street

$$$$Perfect For:Late Night Eats
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There’s nothing quite like a quesabirria from Taqueria Xochi after a night out on U Street (or any time of day really). The half-quesadilla, half-birria taco is the kind of genius idea you'd expect from a teenager experimenting in the kitchen at 3am. It's dripping with grease, oozing with cheese, and really f*cking delicious. The dish is the main attraction at the takeout only taqueria, both for people choosing to escape the U Street mayhem before 9pm and those willing to eagerly wait in the shop's half-a-block line on weekends until 1am. But that doesn't mean you should scroll past the juicy carne asada and loaded fries with queso, jalapeños, and sour cream as you're ordering on your phone.

Maiz 64 is the type of place where, the minute the appetizers hit your table, you can't help but get excited for what's coming next. The restaurant's steamed sweet corn tamal is drenched in a rich, chunky charred tomatillo, goat cheese, and pecorino sauce. Equally as delicious is the charred octopus, served with a subtly bitter mole that’s so good you might just find yourself asking if they'll pack you a cup of it to go. The restaurant great for impressing just about everyone—dates, out-of-towners, bosses, friends—you name it.

A great meal at Los Cincos Tacos in Shaw is all about the basics: fresh tortillas, crisp veggies, and salsa charred to perfection. Slow-cooked barbacoa sits in a warm, soft corn tortilla and is topped with fresh pieces of cilantro and white onion. Take a bite, and you'll understand why there are only five tacos and five quesadillas on the menu. Less is more. That might also explain why there are only two red stools that lean against the restaurant’s white marble bar. If you're lucky, snag a stool and listen to the sounds of Mexican ranchera while enjoying some really great tacos.

A Mexican food guide wouldn't be complete without mentioning Taqueria Habanero. The Columbia Heights restaurant has some of the best Mexican food in the city, which is why you’ll find people from all corners of DC filling the space. Families relax with kids swinging off chipped wooden chairs, lone diners savor sizzling shrimp fajitas at the bar, and friends reunite over free chips and salsa, gearing up for the grand slam—tender beef brisket flautas. For the ultimate experience, come here midday. It’s not as busy, the service is fast, and the food is served piping hot. And to seal the deal, never leave without an order of the churros. Double up if you're sharing, so you’re not fighting over the last one.

For a quick lunch and a massive burrito, you go to J & J’s Mex-Taqueria. For locals, the small spot on Georgia Ave is the holy grail for fully customizable tortas and burrito supremes. Park yourself right in front of the restaurant's assembly bar, and watch as heaps of fresh cheese, crisp lettuce, barbacoa, and steak come together to make your meal. That’s when it will dawn on you: lunch should be the most important meal of the day, the breakfast propaganda has got to end.

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