I have always felt that the D.C. area at large does not have enough good Mexican restaurants. Well, the universe must have heard me because earlier this month Mexican restaurant Amparo Fondita opened the doors to its pop-up in District Space, in Brookland. With a focus on core Mexican ingredients from different regions of Mexico this gem needs to be the next place you dine at in D.C. And you better hurry up – the pop-up ends on September 30.
The menu at Amparo is comfortably small; it has nine main dishes which are great for sharing, and a handful of sides. Chef Christian Irabien hails from Chihuahua, Mexico, and his vision for the restaurant is to showcase authentic Mexican ingredients and dishes from Chihuahua as well as other regions of Mexico, including Oaxaca, Yucatan, and Mexico City, while sometimes using the ingredients in a non-traditional way. Whatever he is doing, he is doing it right. Each of the dishes I had the opportunity to sample are drool-worthy.
The Oaxacan quesadilla is oozes with Oaxacan cheese, squash blossoms and velvety hoja santa, a warm, peppery Mexican herb. Huitlacoche ravioli, stuffed with mushrooms and huitlacoche and chile poblano cream, are sinfully decadent, and do-it-yourself smoky sweet potato tacos that come with a chile butter and fresh corn tortillas are just as divine.
Black bean smothered sopes, adorned with avocado leaves and served with a salsa verde, was another favorite, and don’t forget to supplement your meal with sliced avocado bejeweled with pickled onions, the creamiest black beans you have ever had, and corn on the cob, served with a trio of toppings: aioli, ground pasilla chilis and Oaxacan salt for sprinkling. Prices range from $11-38 for the main dishes, with the median being about $15, and sides range from $4-8.
Margaritas can be made with tequila or mezcal, Mexican wine is in abundance, or you can just go straight for the mezcal flight. I recommend trying all of them, or at the very least, getting a cocktail. My favorite was the White Mexican, with mezcal, bitters, and white vermouth.
The pop-up spot is open Wednesdays through Saturdays for dinner, and they are serving weekend brunch on both Saturday and Sunday. Reservations are not available, but walk-ins did not seem to be waiting for too long when I was dining.
The team does hope to open up a permanent location somewhere within the District of Columbia, but they have been unable to secure a location. Fingers crossed they find a venue soon.
Amparo Fondita, 3522 12th St. NE, Washington D.C. 20017