Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Taqueria Distrito Federal

I'm going to be blunt about this. We're from Southern California and we know our Mexican food. When I ask you where I can find good Mexican food in DC please don't tell me, as several others have, to go to Chipotle. Chipotle makes a tasty burrito but it's a far cry from "real Mexican food."

We finally found what we've been missing at Taqueria Distrito Federal in Columbia Heights. I knew we were off to a good start when the name was en español and the entrance was painted the colors of the Mexican flag. Then again, there were also reindeer on the roof so maybe they were Christmas colors, but whatever.

Taqueria Distrito Federal (or TDF) is a tiny place tucked on the ground floor of a rowhouse in Columbia Heights. If you've never ventured north of the Target/Bed Bath and Beyond Complex (DC USA) on 14th Street you're missing out on this little gem. The interior is colorfully decorated and has about a dozen small tables set in front of an open kitchen. TVs on the wall show broadcast news and sports (noticias y deportes para mis amigos del sur de California) en español. You can order takeout at the counter or take a seat and have a friendly waitress take your order.

B ordered the Alambre Mexicano (grilled chicken and beef, sauteed with jalapeño, tomatoes, onions, and melted cheese on top) served with rice and beans.

I had a combination with three tacos con barbacoa res (barbeque beef), a drink (horchata), and dessert (strawberry ice cream).

The tacos were exactly the type of Mexican street food that I had yet to find in DC. When I saw the radishes on the plate in lieu of the Americanized cheese and sour cream, I knew this was the real deal. The beef was tender and the sauce had just the right amount of spice. The sliced avocado on top cut some of the heat and provided a nice creamy texture.

The horchata was the best I've had outside Santa Ana (if you live near Santa Ana, CA you have to try the horchata at Tacos Mexico). It was served with a whole cinnamon stick in the cup adding a ton of cinnamon flavor. The meal was capped off with strawberry ice cream (I think it was Breyer's) served in a styrofoam cup.

If you're looking for run of the mill gringo Mexican food, this is not the place for you. Rather, TDF serves goat and tongue and tripe, and I love them for it. Gracias Taqueria Distrito Federal!

Second Thoughts From B

Legend has it that when Archimedes discovered buoyancy he leapt from his bath and ran naked through the streets of ancient Syracuse yelling "Eureka!" which means I've found it. While J and I may feel that we've finally reached the end of our quest to find authentic Mexican food in the District, I don't think there will be any naked romps in our future.

My Chinese grandmother had a saying about about good Chinese food restaurants. She said that if you feel a little uncomfortable putting your purse (that would be her purse not mine) on the ground, then you're in a good place. In my experience, this often applies to authentic Mexican food restaurants as well. Was it the best Mexican food I've ever had? No, and not even close. But it was the real deal and good enough that we'll be headed back any time we're in the mood for a little taste of home.

Taqueria Distrito Federal on Urbanspoon

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