mexican food

MXDC Cocina Mexicana Restaurant

Eat tacos and sip margaritas in this popular destination

Reservations are suggested for this buzzing destination with its short but glamorous Mexican menu.

Walking into this DC restaurant means hoping that you have a reservation or that you have arrived just before the main dining hours. Otherwise, this several-levels place gets jam-packed and no wonder: the décor is sleek and wood-accented and sets the stage for a meal or happy hour focused on prime eats and tequilas. The only setback is that the crowds increase the decibel levels very high: shout, don’t whisper, to your eating pals.

So your courteous waiter arrives with the menu. First ask about drinks, because their cocktails are rather unique, and why not sip a blackberry-cilantro margarita midday or a chilled white wine sangria? As you indulge in these yummy beverages, read the menu and select your appetizers right away. The lobster and corn guacamole with smoked chiles is addictive. Plus, it comes with fresh, crunch taco chips.

Entrée choices midday range between burrito/bowls and tacos to sandwiches, quesadillas, and sturdier entrées. The last includes a tasty, cheesy chicken enchilada, chiles rellenos (a Mexican classic), and grilled steak with beans, among a few others. But you may want to focus on the taco choices—you get three to an order, and you can mix and match.

For example, why not sample the carne asada, the pollo (chicken) with chile marinade, and the braised pork shoulder. Another pork option is the crispy pork belly, which comes with roasted tomatoes and pickled red onion. If you are a vegetarian, don’t fret: MXDC offers tacos with wild mushroom and roasted corn salsa. You can even find a vegetarian burrito such as the goat cheese option. But if meat of any sort is your choice, dig into the mariscada dish, a flour tortilla stuffed with lobster, crab, shrimp, arugula, and jalapeño crema.

While you enjoy this festive Mexican treat, glance around the dining areas and bar: you may catch sight of some DC celeb, as this has become a go-to place, thanks to its convenient location. After all, the State Department, White House, and other government buildings are just a few blocks away.

And now, dessert: with only four choices on the dessert menu, you may have a problem deciding what to choose. Churros with cajeta (Mexican caramel, like dulce de leche) come sprinkled with Mexican chocolate sugar, and these make a good pairing with hot coffee. But you may wish to sample their tres leches cake with rosemary, or perhaps the semifreddo, an icy treat of a chocolate wedge glazed with orange.

The dinner menu includes many of the luncheon dishes, but expands upon the taco choices with roasted short rib and pork adobado. The burritos now include a chorizo quesos fundidos, or chorizo sausage with melted cheeses. And main dishes go all out with Chilean sea bass, MX chipotle pasta (!! How unusual!!), and a paella geared to feed two folks.

This newcomer also features a distinctive happy hour menu and some pre-theater dishes. Also check out the tasting menu, available at lunch and in the bar area.

MXDC Cocina Mexicana Restaurant, 600 14th St., NW, Washington, DC. 202-303-1900. Hours: Open for lunch and dinner, Monday through Saturday.

For more Washington DC dining and travel news, click here. Alexandra Greeley is the D. C. restaurant editor at the Daily Meal. You can follow her at www.cookasia.com