D.C. has needed another upscale Mexican dining option for a long time. Enter Espita Mezcaleria, which offers a south-of-the-border dining opportunity like no other. The theme of the venue is mole (which is the epitome of southern Mexican fare) and mezcal, so if you sample nothing else, get a mole dish and a mezcal cocktail.
I went in recently and the dish I sampled, made with roasted carrots and parsnips drenched in the savoy chocolate-infused mole, was easily my favorite dish. But that’s not all that I had that was awesome. First and foremost, you’re going to want to try as many of their salsas as you can. There is a super spicy habanero salsa, a pistachio salsa that is nutty and buttery and different than anything else you have ever tasted, a tomatillo salsa, a heady roasted tomato salsa, and several more that I can’t even remember. Oh and there is guacamole too! No Mexican meal is complete with guacamole. The queso fundido is also great to get at the beginning as well: a pot of melted cheese is the perfect partner to crunchy tortillas chips.
With the salsas, consider one of their dynamic cocktails: a margarita with WORM salt, a ginger and cucumber drink with mezcal, and a vermouth, sherry, tequila and orange bitters concoction are just a few of the options. Or you can just do a mezcal flight if you really want to get into the spirit of things.
After you inhale all the chips and salsa on the table you need to order and share the following with your dining cohorts: mushroom tacos, eggplant sopes, which are these small masa tartlets filled with roasted eggplant, drizzled with a mezcal infused salsa, and crowned with cilantro and shredded cheese, and the avocado tlayudas, which features a big fried tortilla smothered in black beans and topped with hunks of avocado, cilantro, queso, and pickled jalapenos and onions for a bite. In addition to all that, an order of the elote, grilled Mexican corn smothered in mayo and cheese, is essential, as is an order of the fried plantains drenched in crema, and the uber crispy yucca fries.
For dessert, get more mezcal and an order of the tres leches cake. It’s sweet and light and fluffy and comes with a scoop of ice cream. Dozens of new restaurants have opened in DC in 2016; some you’ll skip, some you’ll visit once, but Espita Mezcalaria is one you’re going to be hitting up on the regular.