Wednesday, June 6, 2018

El Centro, DC #3

El Centro is one of those restaurants that is always busy, always bumpin'. But, it wasn't until I was walking around the streets of DC with a friend who lives an hour away that I saw it and realized it's been years since I've been there. After checking many other restaurants who said they were booked at 5 p.m. on a Saturday, we decided to go to El Centro.

I nearly forgot about all the controversy that had recently surfaced about their "no sneakers" policy and how it was applied in an effort to discriminate. I walked in wearing sneakers and no one said anything. As busy as they were this early in the day, I was hoping there was a table available and there was. Hooray! Before sitting down, I inquired about the vegan options and the hostess wasn't sure. The lady who came up to talk to us also wasn't sure and said the usual, "you can have the green salad." So, I took the menu and asked about the veggie tacos and she went and talked to the chef and he said that, of course, he could make them vegan. Great!

We were seated in the dining room on the top floor with the open kitchen. El Centro has this warehousey feel to it with the dark walls and exposed ductwork. On this particular visit, the music was loud, as were the patrons. It was definitely happy hour.

I started off with a Pepino--a spicy margarita made with serrano infused blanco, agave nectar, fresh lime, and fresh cucumber. I liked it, but it wasn't nearly as spicy as I was hoping.

We also ordered the Traditional Guacamole served with chips and salsa. It was pretty good, but definitely not the best guacamole in the city. And the presentation could have been better.

Our server, Luis, was fantastic. He was so nice--addressing all of my questions about what is vegan or not. There really were only a few options--salad or tacos, but he was able to tell me that the rice and beans that come with the tacos were vegan and that the veggies were cooked in oil and not butter, etc.

So, I went with the Roasted Heirloom Vegetable tacos sans the cheese. The roasted vegetable tacos had lots of different vegetables like cauliflower, carrots, onions, and root veggies sauteed in fresh tortillas. I topped them with the guacamole and they were pretty good. But, surprisingly, the best part of this platter were the black beans and rice. The rice, in particular, was seasoned so well and cooked perfectly with fresh peas and carrots mixed in. Yum!

The server even gave me their habanero sauce to add to my food and it was not only hot, it was really good!

This turned out to be a good choice. The atmosphere was fun, drinks good, and food really good. The prices are on the high side with the tacos being $15.50 and the drink $11, but the service was so good that I didn't care. And when you spend so much time out of town eating awful veggie fajitas in Mexican chain restaurants, El Centro is a welcome upscale spin on Mexican food.

Previous reviews
July 30, 2013
March 29, 2012

El Centro D.F. 
1819 14th Street NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 328-3131

El Centro D.F. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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