Best Bites Blog > Hidden Eats|Our Favorite Things
Our Favorite Things: Torta Sandwich from Taqueria Distrito Federal
The Columbia Heights taco joint does a great Mexican sandwich too.
But venture into Columbia Heights for the no-frills Taqueria Distrito Federal, where torta sandwiches are as authentically Mexican as the chorizo tacos and fresh tamarind juice (both on the Spanish-language menu). Owner Louis Marroquin is actually Salvadoran, but he married a Mexican woman and understands the importance of specifically-Mexican—not just abstractly Latin American—culinary pride. His $6 torta sometimes gets overshadowed by the two-buck tacos on the menu, but this sandwich is special.
Lettuce, tomatoes and a subtle “smear” of refried beans join the line-up of fillings. Marroquin whips the beans in a blender, then spreads them on the bun with mayo. On top, he layers avocado slices, and when those aren't in season, cactus marinated in lemon and salt. “It’s what the Aztec Indians used to eat instead of steak. Big wedges of grilled cactus.”
The final ingredients are a block of “Mexican cheese” (no fancy name) that's similar to feta, then onion and cilantro. The Styrofoam plate also includes a wedge of lime, which brings all the flavors together.
Marroquin serves about 25 tortas per weekday, and 50 or 60 on the weekends. He likes the carryout quality of the sandwich, especially since his cramped indoor space is the size of a true taqueria.
Taqueria Distrito Federal, 3463 14th St. NW; 202-276-7331; Open Sunday through Wednesday from 9 AM to 9 PM; Thursday through Saturday from 6 AM to 11 PM.