Food & Drink

Everywhere in the District to celebrate not-Mexican independence

Published On 04/29/2013 Published On 04/29/2013

Cinco de Mayo's coming soon -- possibly on the 5th, but things may have changed because of the Sequester. Anyway, when it does happen, you're going to want to eat and drink somewhere legit, so check out our badass list of DC's best Mexa-raunts

Best Outdoor Space Cantina Marina 600 Water St SW; Southwest; 202.554.8396 Located on the Southwest waterfront, Cantina Marina is the only restaurant/bar actually on the water and far away enough from everything that you're unlikely to run into your boss. Unless he's a fisherman or something. Or also reads Thrillist. Cantina's got a whole lot more
Hottest Waitresses
Bandolero 3241 M St NW; Georgetown; 202.625.4488 Love it or hate it, Georgetown attracts a lot of talent. So it's only fitting that M St's Bandolero would have a muy caliente waitstaff. Pop several collars and try to impress them! See what other hotness Bandolero has to offer
Craziest Filling/Animal in Taco Oyamel 401 7th St NW; Penn Quarter/Chinatown; 202.628.1005 A legendary Oaxacan specialty, the Chapulines is a combo of shallots, tequila, guacamole, and sautéed grasshoppers. Just don't bring your sensei with you. Get filled in on more at Oyamel's site
Best Margaritas Casa Oaxaca 2106 18th St NW; Adams Morgan; 202.387.2272 With over 30 tequilas to choose from, the margs come in a variety housemade flavors like blackberry, blood orange, hibiscus, and lychee, and are only $4 from 5-7p. Oaxaca's casa-page has more info here
Hottest Hot Sauce Pedro and Vinny's 1500 K St NW; K Street; 571.237.1875 A staple burrito spot on K Street, Pedro and Vinny's has a homemade mango-habanero hot sauce that's so damn classy they store it in Grey Goose bottles. Jump here for more on what Pedro and Vinny bring to you
Best Tequila Selection EL Centro DF 1819 14th St NW; Logan Circle/U Street; 202.328.3131 The underground tequileria lair at EL Centro DF isn't seeing a sunrise any time soon, because they're too busy pouring four different flights (vertical, horizontal, micro, and premium) with over 100 selections of tequila. Link up to more on El Centro here
Best Guacamole Rosa Mexicano 575 7th Street at F Street NW; Penn Quarter; 202.783.5522 Since 1984, the Rosa Mexicano folks have been grinding up made-to-order avocado, jalapeño, tomato, onion, and cilantro and making you watch. Enjoy seeing your guac be fixed tableside in a traditional lava-rock mortar. Rosa's more than guac that won't stop. Check it out.
Best Nachos Well Dressed Burrito 1220 19th St NW; Dupont; 202.293.0515 It's a good thing you're down a random Dupont alley, because you'll want to hide while greedily housing these all-cap NACHOS SUPREME: corn tortilla chips topped with black & refried beans, sour cream and spicy queso, and grilled steak. Check out the well dressed site...

Photo via City Life Eats

Photo via Washington Lobbyist

Photo via Nacho Mission
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1. Bandolero 3241 M St NW, Washington, DC 20007 (Georgetown)

Located just a few blocks from the Georgetown University campus, this Day of the Dead-inspired spot is serving up a variety of Mexican small plates, from traditional dishes like spiced hangar steak and short ribs to updated modern favorites like nachos and enchiladas. And for six days a week, from 4-7p, they put on an awesome happy hour, the highlight of which is the $4 Tecate cans.

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2. Cantina Marina 600 Water St SW, Washington, DC 20024

Southwest DC’s Cantina Marina is the culinary embodiment of Margaritaville, from its nautical theme to its beach bites-style menu. The Cajun-meets-Tex-Mex joint is built to resemble a beach shack; with cerulean blue and lemon yellow wood paneling dotted with decorative plaster fish, Cantina Marina would be less conspicuous in sunny Key West than the District. Embrace your temporary vacation, though, and comb through the platter of “Super” nachos to rescue the shrimp, steak, and Andouille sausage that’s smothered by chili, pico de gallo, crema, avocado, and jalapeno. The salads, entrees, and sandwiches offer Creole options, like Jambalaya pasta and the Bayou burger. You’ll want to wash your savory plates down with an ice-cold beer, a margarita, or a sweet specialty cocktail, like the blueberry lemonade. With a location right on the water, it’s likely you’ll pour hours into this place; and you know, it’s your own damn fault.

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3. Oyamel Cocina Mexicana 401 7th St NW, Washington, DC 20004 (Penn Quarter)

From Spanish native José Andrés comes Oyamel, a lively and bold Penn Quarter restaurant. The menu draws from Mexico's rich regional diversity, offering up a huge variety of small plates, tacos, and an Oxacan speciality called Chapulines that features -- get this -- sautéed grasshoppers. Dig in, bro.

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4. Casa Oaxaca 2106 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009 (Adams Morgan)

As the name should indicate, this place takes its culinary inspiration from the Southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. It should be no surprise, then, that the dishes at this Adams Morgan spot are super authentic. On the menu are standouts like seared ahi tuna, chicken tamales steamed in banana leaves, and handmade corn tortillas all over the place.

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5. Pedro & Vinny's Burrito Cart 1500 K St NW, Washington, DC 20005 (Downtown)

Not content simply to be among the oldest burrito carts in DC, Pedro & Vinny's just had to throw their name in the hat to be among the best, too. Joking aside, this K street truck is totally awesome, with a great salsa selection and flavored tortillas -- can you say (or smell) onion garlic? Even better, they're open late on Fridays and Saturdays to feed your drunk self.

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6. El Centro D.F. 1819 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009 (U Street)

Seeking a new adventure, the masters behind Masa 14 opened Centro to challenge themselves to capture the energy of Mexico City. That energy, apparently, comes straight from superb tacos and tequila. With three floors of raw concrete, walls adorned with Aztec masks, and tables glossed with vintage Mexican newspapers, Centro is undoubtedly a success -- and that's before we even talk about the menu, which features great fish tacos, chicken tamales, and a host of tequila tasting menus. Mexico City rules.

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7. Rosa Mexicano 575 7th St NW, Washington, DC 20004 (Chinatown)

All next week, Penn Quarter's is serving an a la carte menu of Mexi-twists on Passover fare, from beef tongue tacos topped with a hard-boiled egg (representing the ancient temple's sacrifice, duh) to a spring noodle kugel, all of which can

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8. Well-Dressed Burrito 1220 19th St NW, Washington, DC 20036 (Dupont Circle)

Good thing this joint is down an alley near Dupont Circle, because you won't want anyone to see your face as you chow down on the Well Dressed Burrito's Nacho Supreme, which can come with grilled steak or chicken. Maybe if you ask super nicely, you'll get both. We're not making any promises.