100 Very Best Restaurant 2016: Taqueria el Mexicano

Smoky guajillo peppers, fried nuts and raisins, and toasted spices go into the mole poblano sauce. Photograph by Scott Suchman .

Okay, so the dining room looks about as inviting as a 7-Eleven. But so what when the mole tastes this rich with nuts, chilies, and dark chocolate? The rojo for the adobo pork is nearly as good—slice off a hunk of the tender rib meat, tuck it into a nubbly, from-scratch corn tortilla, and drizzle on some of the hot sauce. The sopes, too, are made in-house—order one with braised tongue and savor the way the texture of the thick tortilla and the soft meat nearly approximate each other. Don’t be tempted by the typical Tex-Mex fare, such as tacos and enchiladas, which tend to evince less conviction than the authentically Mexican stuff that owners (and proud Puebla natives) Bernardo and Clara Vargas opened the place to showcase. If there’s a cream pastry in the case up front, grab it when you place your order—the Vargases own the bakery a couple of doors down, and the sweet might not be there when you’re ready for dessert.

Don’t miss: Tamales; costillas (ribs); posole, a pork-and-hominy soup; rice and beans.

See what other restaurants made our 100 Very Best Restaurants list. This article appears in our February 2016 issue of Washingtonian.

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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 Logan Circle.

Anna Spiegel
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.