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Dancing Peppers Cantina - Closed.


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Spring in DC means witless tourists standing to the left on Metro escalators, vistas of blooming trees against majestic landmarks, and softball on The Mall. I love softball season! While most teams end up at My Brother's Place, Bottom Line & Adams Mill playing flip cup, our team typically works up an appetite for Tex-Mex (paired with margaritas or a chilled mug of Dos Equis with a lime & salt).

Last night was no exception - a couple of hours at the batting cages and the chitchat turned to where we should go eat after they closed the park on Eisenhower. "I'm in the mood for Tex-Mex," says one teammate. Really?! I would have never guessed! The caravan of cars headed to Dancing Peppers on Duke Street near Landmark Mall - mainly because it was close.

Service is spotty, and you can order a margarita in 4 different sizes (from 12 oz to a hefty 60 oz jug) but there's not a pitcher to be found. However, if you're a displaced Texan looking to scratch a Tex-Mex itch, the food at Dancing Peppers is sufficient and fast. Tacos al Carbon (carne of course) were spiced well and charred so the steak was perfect - you didn't have to fight to bite into it as is the case so often unfortunately. Others at the table dove into enchiladas a la crema and fajita nachos that looked way too good to resist. There wasn't much left on anyone's plate when all was said & done.

So for everyone who posts or submits a question to Tom each week looking for a good Tex-Mex place in this area, for $22 a head (including tax, tip and beverages), Dancing Peppers is a viable option to fill the void when you can't hop on a plane to Texas for a quick fix.

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You neglected to mention the patio!  They have a large deck out front that is nice during warm weather.  The view is of Duke St., which is odd, but Mexican was meant to be eaten outside.

Which is what we did last night - probably explains the spotty service. One waitress for the entire place (about 6 tables inside & approx. 25 people enjoying the brisk night on the patio)
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My wife and I have often joked about going there, thinking it not worth the effort (based mostly on the name and the kitschy sign). I wish we had actually gone in and given it a try before last night. The food was much better than any of the other Suburban Tex-Mex I have found. The Carne Asada was well seasoned, and cooked to perfection. But what really made the dish were the onions. They reminded me of the inside of a perfectly cooked onion ring, and were also nicely seasoned. We also tried the beef Enchilada San Louis which was quite good. The corn tortilla actually tasted like masa, not some horrible cornmeal, the meat was a little dry, but was quite flavorful (they use the fajita meat in this one). The side dishes were much better than I would have expected. The rice actually had flavor (try finding that at many Tex-Mex places) and it was not orange. This was the first time that both my wife and I have finished the rice served in a local Tex-Mex joint. The beans were flavorful and still had some whole beans mixed in. But the standout side dish was cold corn dish that was served with the Carne Asada. It was kernels of corn in a chili sauce that was delightful (and yes it would have been better if it had not been made with canned corn, but hey for these prices who can complain).

My only real issue was with the chips. They did not have any salt on them. I like chips to have salt. The salsa was quite interesting; it was kind of like a cross between a marinara and a salsa. While different than what either of us is used to, we both enjoyed it. I hope to make it back soon to explore more of their menu, and try one of the margaritas.

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When I drove by yesterday I noticed that Dancing Peppers has closed, I could not make out the sign that said what is replacing it, but they were hard at work inside making changes.

Perhaps someone should contact the owner(s) first before publicizing! :blink:

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