Cheap Eats 2007: Taqueria Distrito Federal

A tiny joint like this Styrofoam-service taqueria in Columbia Heights isn’t going to be written about in many food magazines, but the cooking of Margarita Cruz and Luis Marroquin is both memorable and cheap. The $2 tacos are superb, filled with robustly spiced meats, including stewed goat bathed in a sweet and spicy guajillo-chili barbecue sauce; luscious, off-the-bone pork ribs; meltingly tender cubes of tongue; and a zesty chorizo.

There are excellent tortas, such as the Chicken Milanese, a crunchy breaded cutlet slathered with mayo and either avocado or cactus marinated in lemon and salt, and the al pastor—“a secret menu item,” says owner Marroquin. Shaved doner-kebab-style from a hulking round of pork and beef that’s been marinated in pineapple, onion, and jalapeño—the tradition began with Lebanese immigrants in Mexico City—the meat is topped with a sweet slice of pineapple. Wash it down with a glass of fresh tamarind juice.

Marroquin greets all comers with a welcome as warm and homey as the cooking itself.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.