First Look and Taste Test: El Rey
Brandon Wetherbee | BYT at large | Jan 10, 2014 | 9:30AM |

Photos By Franz Mahr, Words By Brandon Wetherbee

2014 is going to be the year you drink Margaritas and eat tacos between a few shipping containers on U St.

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El Rey, conveniently located at 919 U St NW, will be open from 5pm to 2am Sunday through Thursday, 5pm to 3am Friday and Saturday and their taco window will be open and hour later each night. El Rey is likely to be busy from 5pm to 2am Sunday through Thursday, 5pm to 3am Friday and Saturday.

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Friday 11/10
FotoWeekDC 2017 Opening Party @ FotoWeek Central
$45.00 / $60.00
To celebrate the 10th annual FotoWeekDC festival, FotoDC has partnered with Spain Arts & Culture and the Mexican Cultural Institute as the 2017 FotoWeekCentral Campus. FotoDC & BYT Present: FotoWeekDC 2017 Opening Party! Join us for an exciting evening of photography exhibitions, open bars, small bites, photobooths, music, and more spread across our two-campus FotoWeekCentral as we launch the 10th Annual FotoWeekDC Festival! The FotoWeekDC 2017 Opening Party is made possible with support from The Reva & David Logan Foundation Be among the first to view this year's exhibitions at our two-campus FotoWeekCentral: Magnum Photos Present: Magnum 70 at 70 An exhibition of 70 photographic icons celebrating the diversity of the Magnum Photos agency and how its photographers have born witness to major events of the last 70 years. Including seminal works by Susan Meiselas, Paolo Pellegrin, Martin Parr, and Christopher Anderson, the exhibition spans the globe and covers regional events such as Arab Spring, South Africa under apartheid, and the recent migration crisis. SPAIN arts & culture presents: Cislancerus A project by Thenesoya Martín De la Nuez and Aníbal Martel Cislanderus is cultural project that gives a face to the Canarian descendants in the US. The exhibition shows the faces, and also the voices, of the so called “isleños” from Delacroix Island, the descendants from Baton Rouge, Reggio and San Antonio, Texas. The visitor will delve deep into their work as fishermen and hunters, and discover the ways in which they fight on a daily basis to preserve an unprecedented historical and cultural legacy. FotoDC Presents: FotoWeekDC 2017 Contest Winners See all the winners from the FotoWeekDC 2015 photography contest, featuring both single and series winners in the Fine Art, Photojournalism, and Photographer's Choice categories. View the gallery of 2016 winners here. Also featuring the winners of our 2017 FotoDC:STYLE spring photo competition. Featuring hot jamz from: Ayes Cold & and more TBA! Croosh Deets: Friday, November 10th, 2017, 7:30pm-11pm @ FotoWeekCentral Since FotoWeekDC is celebrating our 10th anniversary bigger and better than ever, FotoWeekCentral will be spread across two campuses this year, @ SPAIN arts & culture and the Mexican Cultural Institute! SPAIN arts & culture 2801 16th St NW Washington, DC 20009 Mexican Cultural Institute 2829 16th St NW Washington DC 20009 Special $45 early bird tickets on sale now! Price goes up soon! This is a 21+ event There is no dress code! Support from SKYY Vodka Stay informed
>>>>>>>>>>>> Ok, back to the article! >>>>>>>>>>>>

The restaurant/bar/whatever something that serves quality Mexican food and drinks between two shipping containers and a retractable roof, will be the American Ice Company of the year. El Rey is in a slightly higher traffic area, also features an outdoor/indoor space that allows smoking and has a limited but quality drink menu. Their no frills, stellar Margaritas and Sangria cost $8 a glass or $40 a pitcher, the exact right price to never want to leave the space. Add in a happy hour and if you’re at El Rey when they open, it wouldn’t be a shock if you didn’t leave til close (not recommended).

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The food at El Rey isn’t going to change your life. It’s not supposed to. It’s well-made, reasonably priced Mexican food in a city that desperately needs more well-made, reasonably priced Mexican food. Nearly all of the ingredients are made in house. Those on a gluten free diet actually have decent options. Same for vegetarians. Did we mention it actually tastes good? It tastes good. It tastes like those great, cheap Mexican food dives in Chicago and Los Angeles with better quality ingredients.

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The decor is inviting and different. The lighting in the back ‘room’ (what do you call a space with not exactly four walls and not exactly a ceiling, a more stable tent?) is movie-esque. If there was a show like “Happy Endings” set in DC, they’d use the back of El Rey as their set.

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The front room, through small, is warm and fun. It’s obvious that you’re in/near shipping containers, but the repurposed, stenciled signs, vintage metal ads for pop and industrial table bases make it feel like you’re in a brighter Goodwood.

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This place is going to be packed. It was on opening night. It wasn’t full of press or friends or foodies, it was packed with everyone. Press and friends and foodies were all there, but it was also full of people wondering just what those colorful shipping containers have been doing on U. Also, can I get a taco? By 7:15 (it opened at 7 last night), there were no more seats. If you wanted a taco, you had to use the window. A wonderful, DC-obviously-needs-more-taco-places problem.

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