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El Centro DF Opens With Three Levels Of Tequila And Tacos

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El Centro DF serves traditional Mexican fare from tacos and enchiladas to carne asada and more.
El Centro DF serves traditional Mexican fare from tacos and enchiladas to carne asada and more.

[R. Lopez, 5/4]

It's Cinco de Mayo and you know what that means: tequila. In a case of perfect timing, El Centro DF opens in Logan Circle today with its Mexican fare, expansive roof deck and, yes, a tequila sommelier. They're open at 5 tonight for a Cinco de Mayo party where $20 will get you unlimited appetizers and access to a cash bar serving up the Mexican restaurant's touted tequila-based cocktails. They're also now accepting reservations for both the main and basement floors of this three-level restaurant by phone and on OpenTable.

El Centro DF's main level is a casual taqueria lined with a few dark-wood tables, some inlaid with Mexican newspaper, and 10 seats at the bar. Walls and details remain unfinished throughout much of the restaurant to give it that rustic look that's all the rage these days, meanwhile wooden panels in the taqueria cafe are also inlaid with the same Mexican newspaper for a papier mache effect. Miniature wooden stools line the window counter facing 14th Street, probably best used when waiting for a take-out order of tacos rather than eating a full meal.

Guests will use the staircase in the back of the house to reach the roof deck and the basement tequileria. The latter is cool and cave-like with rough walls, leather banqettes and dark wood tables. Window boxes in the walls house hand-cut masks and the building's original brick peeks out here and there. A DJ booth sits next to the bar and late-night patrons will have some space for dancing. Unisex bathrooms feature nice touches like hand-laid Mexican tiles and a smooth log sink.

If the tequileria is dark and cool, the roof deck is anything but. This vast space is completely open without any tables, just two bars and all light wood stools. There won't be any food up here at first, but by the end of May they'll be adding a homemade tostada menu. Then in the fall, expect to see the installation of a wood-burning oven up on the roof and a menu of crockpot stews. The roof deck is open until 2 am.

Meanwhile, the menu at this restaurant owned by Richard Sandoval and Kaz Okochi (the same team behind the neighboring Masa 14) aims for "Mexican comfort food" with a selection of tacos, enchiladas, plenty of queso and guacamole and chef's specials like chile relleno and carne asada. The tacos al pastor are made with adobo-marinated pork belly, while taco-loving vegetarians have an option of grilled cactus-stuffed tortillas. Every taco here has its own salsa and there are two house-made hot sauces available upon request. Other entrees include braised beef short ribs in a citrus-achiote pibil sauce, tamales, and chicken zarape topped with bacon, onion, queso fresco, avocado, beans and creamy Cotija rice. Dinner is served in both the taqueria and the tequileria.

But if you're visiting the tequileria for its namesake, you'll have a lot of options. El Centro DF currently offers a tequila list (curated by an officially accredited tequila sommelier) of more than 200 tequilas, a number that they aim to bump up to 300 by the end of the summer.

· El Centro DF [Official Site]
· All Previous El Centro DF Coverage [-EDC-]

El Centro D.F.

1218 Wisconsin Avenue Northwest, , DC 20007 (202) 333-4100 Visit Website

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