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Taqueria Distrito Federal

Washington DC (Columbia Heights)

3463 14th st NW, washington DC 20010
thurs-sat 8am-11pm, sun-weds 8am-9pm

Taqueria Distrito Federal

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Rating: 91
Price: $$$

After an epic trip to the Great Smoky Mountains (awesome but taco-less, excluding the fabled 'Obamataco') and a full schedule of eating North Carolina barbecue and pickles, I spent a couple days in Washington DC, staying with my business associate Chris. While he slaved away during the day as a government drone, eagerly serving his queen, I wandered around to various famous monuments and museums, and read Pride & Prejudice - behavior that in no way could be called drone-like, and was in fact entirely an original thought of my own mind.

My illusory superiority to my business associate thus comfortably established in my own mind, I acquiesced to meet him for some tacos near his house. He lives in the Columbia Heights neighborhood, and we had passed Taqueria Distrito Federal several times on the way to/from downtown. While his neighborhood is full of Latin restaurants (with a particularly high concentration of pupuserias on his block), Taqueria DF stood out to us as looking eggstremely delicious.

It being an extremely nice day, we opted for a seat outside on Taqueria DF's patio. It's right off the street but doesn't feel too noisy, and is quite comfortable on warm Thursday afternoons. Our waitress started us off with a bowl of chips and salsa, which (though a rather unoriginal concept) were mind-blowingly good. The chips were delicious, crunchy, and not too greasy. Towering over them in stature, like Michelle and Barack over Malia and Sasha, was the delicious green salsa they were served with. It was a flavorful avocado-based salsa with an overtly spicy flavor - yet despite its prominent spice, the flavor was not masked in the slightest. Truly, Taqueria DF could be labeled as 'the Salsa of the House'.

When ordering time came around, both Chris and I knew what to do: order 4 tacos apiece. In stark contrast to Maria's Pupuseria down the street, our served here was delighted to help us out with speaking Spanish, and extremely pleased to accept our order. I selected costilla puerco (baby pork ribs), barbacoa chivo (goat), al pastor (marinated beef and pork), and chicharron en salsa verde (pork skin in green sauce). Our tacos came out promptly, garnished with onions, cilantro, and a slice of avocado; on the side was a radish slice and cucumber slice. On the side was a classic tri-compartment serving dish containing two salsas and jalapenos - clearly symbolic of the USA's famous three branches of government (if you've been following the news, it should be obvious to you which is which). To clarify, the salsas were a smoky red which was quite spicy and a mild green that had a bit more tomatillo flavor. In my experience, the best salsa combination was a truly bipartisan blend of 1 part green for flavor and 1 part red for spice.

The tacos themselves were awesome (with one exception, which I will get to in due time). The costilla puerco, barbacoa chivo, and al pastor were all good cuts of meat with mild seasoning. I would rate the goat as being the worst of the three, in that the meat was a bit tough, but that seems to be a common problem among goat tacos worldwide. Perhaps my only quibble with these tacos was that the spicing tasted to be fairly similar for all three, leaving me occasionally questioning which taco I was truly eating before subjecting it to careful examination. While their spice blend was delicious, I am a man who likes to 'pork barrel' a bit of variety into my tacos. The taco accompaniments (onions, cilantro, avocado, and tortilla) were all perfectly functional without being remarkable. My final taco - chicharron en salsa verde, AKA pork skin in green sauce - was truly an epic failure. The flavor was, in itself, not so bad (tasted a bit like bacon) but the texture was not to my liking. It was kind of like eating slime of a heterogeneous consistency. Based on the quality of all the other tacos Chris and I ate, I am forced to assume that this was the proper way to prepare chicharron en salsa verde, and perhaps it was even a particularly good batch. Unfortunately, the dish is simply not for me. If you've had it elsewhere and enjoyed it, perhaps you can tell me why I am incorrect; otherwise, I would advise against ordering it, but I certainly wouldn't reduce Taqueria DF's rating on the chicharron's account.

We quickly wrapped up and paid while a police officer on a Segway chatted with a man who appeared to be Taqueria DF's owner. Glad to see he's got the law on his side - though based on DC's reputedly corrupt local politics, I would not be surprised if the owner was slipping the police a bit of chicharron under the table (if you know what I mean). On all accounts, Taqueria DF is a highly recommended taqueria in a city that appears to have quite a few good options. I look forward to returning in 3 weeks' time to attempt to eat a 4-pound burrito, and perhaps will give Taqueria DF a return visit (and will, definitely, avoid the chicharron en salsa verde)!!

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