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Taqueria Distrito Federal, Owner Luis Marroquin in Petworth - Columbia Heights Location Is Closed

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Had my second dinner in a row here tonight, I can't believe that there is a restaurant this good on my way home from the metro.

The menu here is very simple, the have a number of meats that can be had as tacos, burritos, tortas, or tostadas. The meat here is the real attraction, they have chicken, chorizo, beef or goat barbocoa, carnitas, tongue, tripe, & carne asada. They also have a great al pastor that is not on the menu but was offered to me by the server both times.

All of the meats Ive had have been incredible, tender & very well spiced. The tacos are small enough that Ive had both barbocoas, the carnitas, the chorizo, and the al pastor. I think three would make a good sized meal, although my friend -who is a real eating machine- put away six tonight. The al pastor & the beef barbocoa are especially good, very flavorfull & not at all dry. I don't quite know how to put it, the meat here has that something that the rest of the bland mexican Ive had around here lacks. One of these tacos has more flavor than 400 meals from Haydee's or Don Juan's, let alone Lauriol Plaza or the Austin Grill. They must make a new batch of each meat everyday, the beef barbocoa in tonight's torta was incredible. The bun of the torta was good too it had been grilled with a small amount of cheese in it and did a great job of soaking up all the beefs juices. It also came with lettuce, tomato, & avacado. The tacos come with radish, onions & avacado. There were small cups of red & green sauce with my takeout, and the tables also have pickles on them.

Did I mention it is also dirt cheap, the tacos are $2 or 3 for $5 & the burritos & tortas are $5 each. The beer I had with my takeout last night cost me more than my meal. By the way the new Dogfish "Golden Shower" Imperial Pilsner goes very well with the beef barbocoa or al pastor tacos. They don't sell beer, but they do have 4 kinds of homemade drinks. The tamirindo drink I had tonight was quite tasty, but this is something I don't have alot of experience with so I dont feel too qualified to comment.

The guy running the place is very friendly & fluent in english. After I ordered he asked me where I lived & if I had drove. When I said I had walked from Mount Pleasant he mentioned that I had passed alot of restaurants on my way. My response that "none of them serve Mexican food" got a big smile. His place definitely does.

The meat in the tacos is in my opinion much better than the meat Ive had in Riverdale, I would be interested to see how the people who have posted negatively about La Sirineta ect think this place stacks up. If I could get a mole sauce here I wouldn't feel a need to go back Riverdale. It is worth noting that both El Tapatio & La Sirenita have broader menus (Enchiladas, Mole, Seafood ect). The guy said they may offer some of these things as specials. I also think the tacos here are better than the ones at Oyamel, again the difference is the meat (although Oyamel has better tortillas). I'm neither Latin or from California, but I imagine it is only a matter of time before this place gets a huge reputation in the Latin community and is always packed.

Can you tell I know where I'm having dinner tommorow?

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There were small cups of red & green sauce with my takeout, and the tables also have pickles on them.

What kind of pickles, really? Has this place been around for a long time? What is the ambiance like; fucky Mexican music, non-American diners? Does it have a bar? So, a hole in the wall? Lots of other people in there last two nights? Nice of you to do the street reporting. Where is Otis Street anyway?

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What kind of pickles, really?  Has this place been around for a long time? What is the ambiance like; fucky Mexican music, non-American diners? Does it have a bar? So, a hole in the wall? Lots of other people in there last two nights? Nice of you to do the street reporting. Where is Otis Street anyway?

The pickles aren't anything fancy, Im not sure how long its been open. I read about it in the Washington Post Express about two weeks ago. Its tiny, there are 4 tables for 4 and a few counter seats. I dont remember any music, there is a stereo in the corner. It looks really Mexican, there is a small shrine in the dining room & the whole place is painted in neon colors. No bar, it was empty tuesday and pretty busy wednesday. Otis street is about 5 blocks up from the Columbia Heights metro station. The restaurant is on your right if you're coming from the metro.

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I've been twice and concur that it is a great little hole in the wall (albeit a bright, clean hole in the wall). The tongue (lengua) is very good and does not appear on the English side of the menu. The owner seemed quite somewhat surprised that a gringo would order it. No liquor license, but they have horchata (which they gave me a free refill on) and other refreshing Mexican drinks in big vats.

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Tried it this evening. Outstanding. Richest goat and tripe I've ever happened into. Chorizo was also good, and the lengua brought up the rear but still no slacker by any means. Her chicken tasted pretty good too. Friendly owner. Even she liked it, even tho she's more into crispy taco TexMex. Cost me $20 all in for a total of 7 tacos, a giant serving of horchata, her bottle of water, and T&T. Go. You won't regret it.

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What kind of pickles, really?  Has this place been around for a long time?  What is the ambiance like; fucky Mexican music, non-American diners?  Does it have a bar?  So, a hole in the wall?  Lots of other people in there last two nights?  Nice of you to do the street reporting. Where is Otis Street anyway?

http://www.dcist.com/archives/2005/10/14/w...nd_burritos.php

Susan wrote about it last October; I think it was fairly new then.

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The guy running the place told me they had been open about a year.

I ate here four times last week, and the only thing I didn't love was the burrito. I think its best to stick to things that showcase the meat, like the tacos & tortas. The bread in the torta is wonderfully light & soaks up the juices from the meat well.

Sorry if I keep making a big deal about this place, its just that its amazing to me that there is only one place in the DC city limits that does this one thing (mexican food) even at an OK level. I think I would fall over dead if an OK chinese restaurant opens any closer to DC than Rockville or Fairfax.

Once again, edited for basic spelling.

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I noticed that too. Also Kliman mentioned it in his "chog" or whatever it's now being called was yesterday. It's interesting how when news of a place like this rises up and gets on the radar screen on this and other sites it starts to show up in force everywhere.

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The meat in the tacos is in my opinion much better than the meat Ive had in Riverdale, I would be interested to see how the people who have posted negatively about La Sirineta ect think this place stacks up. If I could get a mole sauce here I wouldn't feel a need to go back Riverdale. It is worth noting that both El Tapatio & La Sirenita have broader menus (Enchiladas, Mole, Seafood ect). The guy said they may offer some of these things as specials. I also think the tacos here are better than the ones at Oyamel, again the difference is the meat (although Oyamel has better tortillas). I'm neither Latin or from California, but I imagine it is only a matter of time before this place gets a huge reputation in the Latin community and is always packed.
Got there for a quick, late lunch away from the office today.

Had the aforementioned three tacos: chorizo, goat and al pastor. Fresh, tasty and only a bit messy. Got a side of beans & rice - topped with a nice slice of queso. Rice was right taste though not steaming hot. I agree with Mt PleasantEater that, when the timing is right, I'd welcome a broader menu.

I do feel comfortable comparing the noise level to most of the Riverdale places. I thankfully didn't get my ears blown out today. I saw the CD stereo set up in the back corner - silent. There are two small flat-panel TVs. One set to Spanish TV (appropriate volume level for the size of the restaurant and tile walls) and the other on English programming (silent with closed captioning). Today, the English show was 1994's Little Giants with Rick Moranis and Ed O'Neill - perfect as an away from the office EEG smoother.

Thanks, nice find y'all.

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I think I actually severley under-reported the menu in my original posting, they offer daily specials and many more meats than I realized at first. This is partially because none of the menus are complete, most of them don't match each other & none of them mention that they offer specials. The thing to do is ask the guy what they have.

The meats include: carnitas, costillas de peurco (a fattier cut of pork), pork ribs in green sauce, tripe, tongue, chorizo, chicken, al pastor (pork cut from a rotisserie made with pineapple), carne asada, beef barbacoas, goat barbacoa, chicken or beef milanesa's & ham. I think the last three are just for the tortas. The two barbacoas & the pork preparations are the highlights I think.

The specials have included pork soup (posole?), beef soup (menudo), chille relleno's & chicken with mole. The mole is the only thing I didn't really like, I've had better at Oyamel or El Tapatio.

Like I said the thing to do is just ask the guy what they have & ignore the menu.

My apologies for the spelling errors to anyone who know spanish.

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Lunch today was the carne asada special, beans/rice and a tamarind drink (just under $9 before tip). The meat was spiced and piping hot with a nicely arranged lettuce, tomato, cuke, radish, lime and avacado on the side.

Entertainment was, of course, World Cup (USA v. Czech Republic). Both of the little HD-TVs had Univision's coverage, but only one had its sound on. It was loud enough for the kitchen, but not blasting for me. Didn't have a chance to ask whether they'd have all the games on, but it's a safe bet.

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Tried this place out yesterday based on previous posters' recommendations - I knew I joined this board for a reason... I'm a non-meat-eater, so most of the Mexican food I've had within the District has been a bland, greasy mess. Not so with the simple, tasty vegetarian (well, the beans may not have really been vegetarian, but I wasn't going to look too closely) tacos at Taqueria Distrito Federal - the ingredients were fresh and well-seasoned, the salsas out on the table were nice and spicy, and the corn tortillas did not appear to come from an industrial supplier. I wasn't crazy about the mango drink that came from a big vat - I can't speak to its authenticity, but to me it tasted like Mango kool-aid.

Just when I was about to give up hope of finding a reasonable Mexican restaurant in DC.

Now, if only I could find a Chinese place that does good seafood or vegetarian dumplings.

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bump

The world needs more places like TDF: small joints owned by good, hard working people who put out great, cheap food.

When I walked in the owner was in the kitchen. He greeted me and told me that I should let him know what I wanted and the waitress would ring me up. She spoke as much English as I did Spanish, but when you are talking about great food the lanuage barrier is small. The owner suggested I get the special of the day, the taco camarones (shrimp), so I did. I added a carnitas and barbacoa res to the order. Needless to say the tacos were worthy of all the praise they have received.

While I was waiting for the food the owner came out from behind the corner and talked me into trying his homemade Mexican flan type dessert. I also asked for a drink suggestion and am now a fan of their tamarind drink. We chatted while waiting for my food and he took the opportunity to brag about his young daughters. It sounds like he has the right be a proud papa. He asked if I had been in before and I replied yes, during the World Cup. He then remembered that it was during a later game when Germany played and pointed to the table where I sat. On my way out he asked if I was walking because he was concerned I would have to carry the food far and had a reassured look when I told him my car was half a block away.

We should all be able to make a living enjoying ourselves as much as it appears he does.

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Dunno if this is a question of decline or what... my first visit yielded dry pork and chicken. Horchata tasted a lot like bubble gum. Carne asada was flavorful, but again perhaps a little drier than it needed to be. Someone else told me that had a similar experience. Or maybe this was being spoiled by an amazing first experience in California.

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Dunno if this is a question of decline or what... my first visit yielded dry pork and chicken. Horchata tasted a lot like bubble gum. Carne asada was flavorful, but again perhaps a little drier than it needed to be. Someone else told me that had a similar experience. Or maybe this was being spoiled by an amazing first experience in California.
I stopped by on Sunday and was similarly disappointed. But, given my prior excellent meals there, I think it may have just been an off-day.

The owner did not seem to be there, and they were apparently out of avocados. Additionally, we had ordered, and were charged for, meals that were to come with dessert, but no dessert was either given or offered. Which was a good thing given the amount of time we had already spent there, first waiting for our food, and then for our silverware.

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I stopped by today for some take out. I've driven by here countless times and always said, "hey I should check that place out, esp since all my cooks seem to love it.." So, today I did. All I can say is that I like it, I like it alot. Had the tripe and costillos as tostadas and chorizo, lengua and barbacoa de chivito as tacos. I ate the tostadas in the car ;) couldn't help it, besides, if I waited to get home they would have been soggy right? right? Anyway, the costillos were awesome as was the tripe, I really like the richness of the beans and the crema, simple wonderful. I am always a fan of roasted pork so this was an easy sell. The chorizo and chavito were the best of the tacos, I didn't really like the tounge as it was a bit tough, but I'll get it next time to see if it's more tender. The lady wasn't busy so we chatted a bit in spanish which always suprises everyone that I hablo espanol lol. anywho, all the meats seemed fresh and moist with the exception of the lengua......total....$12.00 including $2 tip cause she was just so nice :P

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It's good to see this addition to Petworth/Brightwood. I'm still suffering because Colorado Kitchen is no longer in the 'hood. Jamie's note on DCist has more info on the opening.

Thursday, July 31, 2008 - 2:18 PM EDT

Taqueria Distrito Federal opens in Petworth

Washington Business Journal - by Missy Frederick Staff Reporter

Taqueria Distrito Federal plans to open its second location Friday.

The popular Columbia Heights dive, owned by Luis Marroquin and known for its authentic Mexican food and humble atmosphere, has a new location in the Petworth neighborhood of D.C. The second location is at 805 Kennedy St. NW.

The new spot will feature the same menu as the first incarnation. Marroquin said Thursday that the restaurant is still waiting on its liquor license, and hopes to eventually feature an outdoor cafe. The Petworth branch is a bit more spacious than its predecessor, with seating for around 30 people, he said.

"I just want everyone to have a good time and feel welcome and happy," Marroquin said.

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Don't be afraid of the chicharron en salsa verde...I know, I know it is a heart attack in a taco skin. Pork skin simmered in green chili sauce, it is probably the best I've had in this country. Luis is our neighbor, and as a chef and single parent just like he is, I appreciate the blood and soul he has put into his stores. Like many of us in this business he has to contend with staffing issues and crazy things like when the produce company lets you down. Luis has two stores now and Im sure is running back and forth to each one. He also goes to the big market on New York Avenue every morning and loads his truck full of produce so that he has the opportunity to hand select his stuff. If he ran out of avocados, its probably because he was selective and there weren't as many good enough for him to stock two stores. This is the type of restaurant owner we need to get behind. An independent guy that cares about his customers and his products. In a couple of months he and his staff will work out the kinks and the youngsters he has working for him will get it and know the drill.

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Don't be afraid of the chicharron en salsa verde...I know, I know it is a heart attack in a taco skin. Pork skin simmered in green chili sauce, it is probably the best I've had in this country. Luis is our neighbor, and as a chef and single parent just like he is, I appreciate the blood and soul he has put into his stores.

I tried four tacos last night ($2.50 each), one of which was the Chicharron en Salsa Verde. It was every bit as good as you describe, and maybe even my favorite of the four (which included Lengua, Barbacoa de Chivo, and Chorizo). As I waited for my carryout order by the entrance, looking at the stuff on the wall, I was thinking it had been way too long since I'd been in here. Then, Luis came strolling in, on his cell phone, seemingly talking with a family member. Without missing a beat, he walked up to the counter just as my order came up, grabbed it (still conversing on the phone), walked over to me, put it down in front of me, and patted me on the shoulder with a smile.

I love Taqueria Distrito Federal, and strongly prefer their tacos to those of La Sirenita and El Charrito Caminante.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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I tried four tacos last night ($2.50 each), one of which was the Chicharron en Salsa Verde. It was every bit as good as you describe, and maybe even my favorite of the four (which included Lengua, Barbacoa de Chivo, and Chorizo). As I waited for my carryout order by the entrance, looking at the stuff on the wall, I was thinking it had been way too long since I'd been in here. Then, Luis came strolling in, on his cell phone, seemingly talking with a family member. Without missing a beat, he walked up to the counter just as my order came up, grabbed it (still conversing on the phone), walked over to me, put it down in front of me, and patted me on the shoulder with a smile.

My friend and I grabbed a quick bite here before the DCU game last Saturday. I wouldn't necessarily call the food great but it was definitely enjoyable. The meat was definitely on the dry side -- a criticism I've seen on other sites as well. My favorite was the lengua (most flavorful), followed by the chorizo. The chicharron wasn't as fatty as I had hoped unfortunately.

We'll definitely return though. The three tacos + drink + dessert for $9.70 is an excellent deal.

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Went to petworth a little while back - the steak was definitely on the dry side, but the pollo and carnitas were moist and full of flavor. We got take out, but were the only ones in the store... we sat and waited, and were generously given an extra carnitas taco to eat while they packed our food! All the food bubbling away on the tiny stove looked and smelled great - return trip is definitely on the calendar.

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