5 Things to Look For at Mission (Photos and Menu)

R&R Taqueria’s talented chef goes from gas station to Dupont Circle.

R&R Taqueria chef Rodrigo Albarran brings a taste of Mexico City to Dupont Circle. Photographs by Andrew Propp.

We’re longtime fans of R&R Taqueria—along with Guy Fieri and countless others—but the drive to the original, at a gas station in Elkridge, Maryland, isn’t for everyone. Luckily, fans can get a taste of chef Rodrigo Albarran’s Mexican cooking just steps from the Dupont Circle Metro with Mission, now open. Here’s what to look for when you head over this weekend.

Margaritas on the patio or beneath the skylight

Rodrigo, who still splits time between his two R&R locations and the new spot, partnered with Mason Inn and George owners Fritz Brogan and Reed Landry for the concept. The restaurant is a new move for all three—it’s much bigger in scope than a stools-only taqueria, and a departure from the duo’s booze-only bars. The three worked with their team to transform the seemingly subterranean former One Lounge space into a rustic Mexican eatery, sporting pristine white walls and dark wood floors. A large skylight—more like a sky-ceiling—above the bar allows plenty of sunshine, while you can catch direct rays on a 50-seat patio in warmer weather.

A skylight over the 25-seat bar lets in the sunshine, while guests will also be able to sip margaritas on a 50-seat outdoor patio.

Tacos y hamburguesas

A larger space means a bigger menu for Rodrigo. You’ll find some similar dishes from the chef’s repertoire of Mexico City-style cooking, including fresh tortillas stuffed with pork carnitas and homey pozole. Still, the dinner-only (for now) menu includes many more options, including a variety of seafood specialties such as ceviche, soup stewed with whole clams, and crispy mahi-mahi tacos. Vegetarians can also do well here with poblano pepper-potato tacos and chiles rellenos, while meat lovers can opt for racks of ribs with adobe barbecue sauce and a fiery burger topped with über-spicy ghost peppers.

A large menu boasts everything from tacos to ribs to ceviche (pictured left). Bigger parties can take their meals in several private spaces, like this brick-walled room.

Pour-your-own tequila shots

Brogan points out that Mission is the first bar (see the drink menu) in DC to have Corona on tap, which you can sip alongside small or large pitchers of frozen margs and other Mexican-restaurant staples. But the 50-deep list of tequilas and mezcals is the star of the bar. All can be ordered in eight-ounce carafes for pouring your dining companions shots at the table.

Enchiladas with chicken and pasilla chilies stuffed into fresh tortillas are among the many Mexico City-inspired dishes.

Happy hour and late-night service

Night owls looking for a late dinner can drop in for the full menu until 11 on weekdays and midnight on weekends. After the kitchen wraps up, a deejay will play on certain nights, taking things back to the lounge days. Guests can also head up to the second-floor bar to sip margaritas into the wee hours. Happy hour runs between 5 and 7:30 and currently includes $3 Tecates and $6.50 house margaritas; more drink and food specials are in the works.

You won’t find kitschy sombreros in the rustic dining room, accented with dark wood and leather banquettes.

Looking ahead: lunch, bottomless brunch

No Dupont spot is complete without bottomless brunch, which Mission plans to launch this summer (bubbly and/or tequila to be determined). You’ll see lunch service debut earlier, as well as online reservations through OpenTable.

Mission. 1606 20th St., NW. 202-525-2010. Current hours (subject to change): Open daily 5 to midnight.

A cozy telephone room upstairs provides a quiet space for making calls and a charger to juice up your phone.
Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.