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Mezcalero (Courtesy of Mezcalero)

The top 5 Mexican restaurants to try in D.C.

Nothing quite hits the spot like a giant enchilada smothered in sauce and cheese, or a taco piled with tasty meat and toppings. Over the last few years, we’ve been lucky to have a wave of better Mexican restaurants open in DC. Here’s the best of them – these spots are consistent, authentic, and most importantly, delicious.

Espita Mezcaleria

This hip spot in Shaw focuses on food from the Southern Mexican area of Oaxaca. What that means is that you will find delicious and complex moles, variety of house made salsas, tlayudas and tortas, fresh heirloom corn tortillas that serve as a base for tacos, and the biggest collection of mezcal in the area. Espita uses authentic Mexican ingredients, incorporating them into new techniques and elevated flavors that take diners outside the box of classic Mexican cooking.

Taqueria Habanero

Delicious, authentic Mexican food in a colorful but simple atmosphere are the trademarks of Taqueria Habanero. Start with a Michelada and gorge on the tacos served on fresh homemade tortillas (the pescado and the chorizo are both legit), or the chicken enchiladas which are super flavorful. You’ll be transported to Mexico right here in upper Columbia Heights.

Tacos El Chilango

This taco shop is a spinoff from a food truck (which can still be found in Rosslyn) and is known for their fantastic street style tacos and aguas frescas, which is pretty much all they have on the menu. The lengua and chorizo are crowd favorites, but their selection of vegetarian versions is also spectacular. Top off their tacos with a selection of the house made salsas – and be warned that the habanero salsa is not to be taken lightly.

La Puerta Verde

This is one of the newer additions to the list, having been open less than a year, but has quickly made a name for itself. The restaurant is not just stunning with colorful art, Mexican tiles, and repurposed industrial materials from the Ivy City building’s earlier life, but offers an absolutely fantastic menu. You can watch the tortillas being freshly made, eventually leading to incredible tacos, mouthwatering elote loco – street corn with cheese, tostadas with seafood or chorizo, and tasty shareable large plates. Meat lovers should not miss the “Carne Arrachera” – grilled skirt steak with a variety of sides.


The city sorely lacked a spot like Mezcalero, where you can now find not only the favorites that you find at other Mexican restaurants, but also a lot of other Mexican specialties that are not typically found on menus. At Mezcalero, you have to start with the queso, which is served with warm fresh tortillas, but also get the oysters al carbon, charbroiled oysters with chipotle butter sauce and parmesan. Oysters at a Mexican place? Yes, trust us on this one. If you want to stay the standard route, their tortas, tacos, huaraches are all fantastic, but get out of your comfort zone and try some items you may not have before – such as the tacos de canasta, huitlacoche quesadillas, or one of the “guisados”, Mexican stews. Any which way you go here, you can’t really go wrong.