Our 8 Favorite Mexican Dishes and Drinks Around DC

Spicy margaritas, breakfast tacos, nachos, and more.



Cactus Cantina and Lauriol Plaza

You’ll hear the sizzle before you see the platter of smoking steak, chicken, and buttery shrimp (we also love the lamb special), sided with housemade flour tortillas. 3300 Wisconsin Ave., NW (Cactus Cantina); 1835 18th St., NW (Lauriol Plaza).


Santa Rosa Taqueria

Our biggest beef about nachos: skimpy toppings. This revamped and relocated taqueria dishes up the opposite: sheet-pan nachos lavished with salsa, housemade queso, jalapeños, black beans, avocado, and crispy shrimp. 301 Pennsylvania Ave., SE.

Seafood Taco

Fish Taco

As the name of this suburban chainlet suggests, piscine tacos are the thing to get. Specifically, the signature beer-battered white fish (it changes seasonally) with slaw and creamy, tangy sauce. Tysons, Bethesda (Wildwood Center and Bethesda Row),Cabin John.

Spicy Margaritas

Mama Tigre

If you’re a serious spice fiend, go for the tamarind margarita infused with three chilies at this Mex-Indian spot. If you prefer a subtler heat, the lime-jalapeño is the way to go. 10443 White Granite Dr., Oakton.

Breakfast Tacos

Baker’s Daughter

Houston native Matt Baker’s toasty, tightly rolled beauties are so overstuffed, they’re more like mini breakfast burritos. Inside are perfectly seasoned scrambled eggs, cheese, and either bacon, crumbly chorizo, or roasted potato. Ivy City, downtown DC, Penn Quarter.

Takeout Taco Kits


José Andrés’s Penn Quarter Mexican spot has been dishing up superior tacos for 18 years. Now you can get neatly packaged, assemble-yourself versions with mushrooms, chicken, or baby pig delivered to your own kitchen. 401 Seventh St., NW.

Takeout Tortillas

Republic Cantina

This Truxton Circle Tex-Mex destination sells par-cooked housemade flour tortillas in packs of ten. All they need is a turn in a hot skillet. 43 N St., NW.

Seafood Cocktail


Oysters, shrimp, and crab—marinated in cool, citrusy tomato broth—are piled into the bountiful Vuelve a la Vida bowl at this seafood-focused Columbia Heights dining room. 3704 14th St., NW.

Illustrations by Michelle Shin.
This article appears in the August 2022 issue of Washingtonian.

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.

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.