Friday Food Faves: Mexican Cuisine

I looooove Mexican cuisine. I am breaking from my Friday Food Faves format by naming a genre rather than a specific food item, but I can’t help it- I love anything and everything about Mexican food. First there’s the tortilla chips (corn or flour) and delectable dipping sauces- salsa, queso, or guacamole. And if you’re a seafood fan, who doesn’t enjoy ceviche while we’re still on appetizers? For entrees, there are so many selections- tacos, fajitas, burritos, enchiladas, empanadas (okay this is really Latin American if we’re going to be technically correct), quesadillas- the list goes on! And of course…the margaritas. There are few things better than a cold margarita on a sunny summer afternoon or evening.

Tonight I’m going to try the Guajillo Grill restaurant for the first time- definitely excited to try a new place. Arlington and DC have a few spots for decent Mexican food, however when I was out in California and Texas this past fall, I now know how far behind in terms of quality the DC metro area is.

Here are some places I’d recommend:

Lauriol Plaza: This place used to be one of the best (voted in 2002 as one of the best places for Mexican), but recently it’s become so-so. I still love their margarita pitchers and chips and salsa, but I would mostly recommend for twenty-somethings looking to enjoy a fun happy hour with food as an afterthought.

Uncle Julio’s– Yes, it’s a chain, but the drinks aren’t too bad and the quality of the food matches the price pretty well, not to mention the portions are ginormous. If you’re just looking for a casual place to eat- especially with a large group or for a work function, this place can definitely meet your needs.

District Taco: A food truck, but they now have a restaurant open on Lee Highway. Truly fabulous tacos.

MexiCali Blues: Pretty good and very well-priced; located in Clarendon. The menu is very simple, but the options are tasty and very authentic. I recommend the fajitas, falutas, or burros. One of the best places to eat outside in Clarendon in the spring or summer.

Rosa Mexicano: This restaurant perplexes me. It’s probably one of the best restaurants for Mexican (although not always authentic) in DC; however, I’m sad to say the quality just does not match the prices of the place. Biggest complaint I hear about Rosa Mexicano is that it’s overpriced. Unfortunately, I think people just have a hard time paying a lot for Mexican cuisine….Nevertheless those that don’t mind paying the price, truly enjoy it. It’s consistently ranked as a Reader’s favorite in Washingtonian and other magazines.

Oyamel: I think this is the winner in the DC area. Owned by one of my favorite chefs in the DC area, José Andrés, (owner of Zatinya, Cafe Atlantico and Jaleo), Oyamel remains authentic and true to the heart of Mexican cuisine, yet also adventurous and creative. Unbelievable ceviche, a diverse range of tacos and carne (meat) dishes, and fantastic signature drinks- you will leave satisfied and without too empty a wallet.

Again, overall DC just doesn’t measure up to other cities in the country in terms of the quality and selection of Mexican food, but these spots should be able to satisfy those random cravings for Mexican (those of you who have them know what I’m talking about…). Hopefully, I will be able to recommend Guajillo to you all after tonight!