I’ve come to the realization that there is no food more perfect than the soft taco. Simple in its design but unlimited in its possibility, it’s one of the strongest dishes that can be easily dressed up or down in no time at all. Richard Sandoval knows this. It’s one of the pillars of his 14th Street staple El Centro D.F.
Blessedly, the District now has another El Centro for all its tequila-and-gourmet-taco indulgence (and we do mean gourmet). Starting next week, Georgetown’s getting its own restaurant with a fairly unique menu, a spacious patio and one of the largest selections of tequila in the DMV.
The concept is similar though the layout and roughly 30 percent of the menu has changed. The basement of the 14th Street location, the tequileria, is now the first floor in Georgetown’s location with the taqueria is on the second floor. While there is no rooftop bar there is an outdoor bar and patio–complete with fire pit–seating 55.
Amid the thick ceiling beams, high tabletops, repurposed mexican newspaper and wood, you might also spot a DJ booth on the second floor (in addition to the level’s two bars).
So what new dishes has Richard Sandoval been cooking up for us? To start, there are four varieties of tableside guacamole: Traditional, Bacon, Tuna Tartar and Spicy Crab, in addition to iron skillet fajitas and new tacos; the chef’s personal favorite, we’re told, is the Vuelve a la Vida with with octopus, shrimp, chorizo and tomatillo salsa.
Keep an eye out for cazuelas, mole-roasted chicken, and beef short ribs with tamarind mole and root vegetable. Are your mouths watering yet?
One of the largest changes you’ll find lie in the liquids with Beverage Director Rob Day’s new infused tequilas. All are house-made and involve 100-percent agave tequila and include flavors like Strawberry Chile, Rosemary, Fresh Peach, Watermelon and Cucumber, Tamarind and Guava. (Keep your eyes peeled for the large glass jars throughout the restaurant.)
“What we decided to do was bring some Mexican fruits to tequila,” Day said. “Thats the first thing we wanted to do. We started with six [infused tequilas] but decided to blow it up so. We doubled it.”
You’ll also find a new assortment of frozen margaritas, housemade sodas, just in case the 225 varieties of tequila and 45 mezcals at this location don’t do it for you. (14th Street offers roughly 200 and 30, respectively.) Can’t decide? They offer flights for $25. More of a wine aficionado? They’ve expanded their wine list with options from Spain, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay. Their cocktail list, also impressive, utilizes some of the infused tequilas.
So why another El Centro instead of another Masa or Zengo?
“We felt it was a better fit for the Georgetown crowd; it’s fun, it’s accessible,” Ivan Iricanin, Sandoval’s Director of Operations told me. “We’ll get tourists and the college crowd and people just coming to shop–it caters to everyone, which is something Georgetown needs.”
El Centro Georgetown opens after Labor Day, sometime next week.