Taqueria Distrito Federal

June 2006 Cheap Eats

Few places offer as much warmth and attention as this hole in the wall on 14th Street–all courtesy of the scraggly-bearded guy in the baseball cap. Owner Luis Marroquin is there to welcome you, take your order, and offer you free refills of drinks.

The cooking is left to Margarita Cruz, who sends carefully prepared, slow-cooked snack foods out from her tiny kitchen. This is the most authentic Mexican cooking you'll find this side of Riverdale's Little Mexico.

The menu is minuscule–11 varieties of tacos, 12 kinds of burritos, and a combination plate–and seating is limited. The burritos are big and tasty, stuffed with fresh rice, stewed beef or pork or chicken, and cubes of salty white queso–no dollops of sour cream or gobs of melting Colby here; they also benefit from being baked right before hitting the table. The tacos, two-ply corn tortillas stuffed with meats and little else, are delicious and satisfying–the tongue, cooked for 3 hours, is luscious; just as memorable are the stewed goat, with its spicy, sweet guajillo-chili sauce, and succulent slices of pork ribs.

They go down nicely with a cold glass of horchata, a sweet, cinnamony drink made from pulverized rice, or marañón, a nectar squeezed from the fruit of the cashew plant.