After a nearly 10-year run on the 14th Street NW strip, three-level taqueria El Centro D.F. has permanently closed, a representative for Richard Sandoval Hospitality confirms. The representative says the popular Logan Circle taco bar (1819 14th Street NW) could relocate elsewhere in the city, but the move was made “while the company navigates the current market conditions due to COVID-19.” A Twitter user with the handle @tsarpowell said they had “insider info” when they reported earlier this week the bar would not reopen.
The brand expanded in 2013 with an outpost in Georgetown, which remains open for dine-in service, takeout, and delivery. Sandoval’s pan-Latin steakhouse Toro Toro is still operating as well.
El Centro D.F. made a big splash on the D.C. dining scene in 2011, opening with a lengthy tequila list to go with tacos, enchiladas, and carne asada. The three-level casual taqueria in Logan Circle sported a rustic look with dark wood tables inlaid with Mexican newspaper on the main level, as well as an expansive roof deck.
On weekends, the basement turned into a nightclub complete with DJs, tequila shots, and salsa dancing. In 2017, the restaurant came under fire for denying a Black man entrance at the door for wearing Converse sneakers on a Saturday night. In response, El Centro fired the bouncer who denied the patron entry — and did away with the no-sneaker policy.
Sandoval’s global restaurant group claims dozens of businesses, largely sprinkled across the East Coast and the Southwest. The chef’s reach extends into Abu Dhabi, Mexico, Costa Rica, Japan, Qatar, and Serbia.
Sandoval shrunk his 14th Street NW portfolio last summer with the closure of Masa 14, a popular Latin-Asian restaurant known for its bottomless brunch and a once-trendy rooftop.
His company is still moving forward with plans to open a tequila bar underneath a strip club in Mount Vernon Triangle (476 K Street NW). Its opening date has been pushed to 2021, a representative says.