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words and photos by Dakota Fine

If it’s one food complaint I hear on a regular basis from DC residents, it’s a lamentation for the lack of good Mexican food in the District. Well, while one restaurant alone can’t single-handedly wipe away the plague that is Chipotle, it can certainly brighten up 14th street a whole heck of a lot. To the uninitiated the D.F. stands for “districto federal,” Spanish for “federal district” (i.e. District of Columbia) but should not be confused with everyone’s favorite little local Petworth taqueria.

Capitalizing on every gringos favorite Mexican-American (non?) holiday/excuse-to-get-wasted-day, El Centro D.F. is throwing it’s doors open today to the public. Featuring a taqueria in the front with a taco and burrito ordering station and a sit down dining area (“tequileria”) in the back and downstairs, El Centro D.F. is here to serve up all your Mexican inspired cravings.

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Some very cool lighting, above they have installed tiny light bulbs inside of repurposed sprinkler heads. Below, a view from the front of the restaurant as you’re approaching the taqueria ordering station and a little sneak peak of what the tables look like at the front of the house.

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A lot of great Mexican inspired artwork downstairs on the walls give the place both an authentic feel and a romantic atmosphere.




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Very cool washroom area, with a hollowed out tree as your washing basin.


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On to the food! I tried the ceviche, the tacos and the beef ribs, all of which were amazing.

white fish / citrus sauce / tomato / onion /cilantro / avocado  …  10.95

AL PASTOR (3 tacos served with Mexican rice & charro beans)
adobo marinade pork belly / grilled pineapple / cilantro / onion  …  10.95

sauteed market vegetables / citrus-achiote pibil sauce / refried black beans / mexican rice  …  17.95

Chef Richard Sandoval has put together an instant winner and fan favorite in the tacos, which honestly made me want to dance they were so delicious. Granted they were filled with pork belly, so it’s probably not the healthiest thing you can eat, but he mixes in grilled pineapple bringing out a very sweet citrus flavor. Just top it of with a little of the green spicy salsa, and it is totally delectable.

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Tequila sommelier Danielle Griffin has also put together a number of specialty tequila cocktails to accompany the food, below right we have a summery blueberry mint concoction.

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El Centro DF is located at 1819 14th, just a few doors down from the Black Cat. Doors are open TODAY. Cinco de Mayo, hooray!