Food & Drink

Everywhere in the District to celebrate not-Mexican independence

Published On 04/29/2013 Published On 04/29/2013
Photo via Nacho Mission
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1. Bandolero 3241 M St NW, Washington, DC 20007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.