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Mi Vida

20+ Latin American Restaurants to Check Out in Washington, DC

Enjoy the vibrant and flavorful cuisine of El Salvador, Mexico and more throughout the District

Enjoy the vibrant and flavorful cuisine of El Salvador, Mexico and more throughout the District

DC’s strong Latin American population and its status as a landing place for talented entrepreneurs and chefs from all over the world has fueled a culturally infused dining scene worth exploring to your fullest. The city's vibrant Salvadoran community bustles in Mount Pleasant and beyond, while Mexican, Argentine and Peruvian cultures are on display across menus throughout the District. We’ve listed out a wide variety of restaurants across the city that serve up mouthwatering dishes inspired by the flavors of Latin America. Dig in.

La Cosecha

The city's contemporary Latin American marketplace located in NoMa near Union Market celebrates centuries of heritage through culinary experiences, community and conversations on fostering business education throughout Latin America. You can find gourmet chocolates at Arcay Chocolates, innovative cocktails at Serenata and lovingly crafted empanadas, sandwiches and desserts from the Peruvian Brothers.

1280 4th Street NE, Washington, DC 20002

El Sol Restaurante & Tequileria

Opened in 2014, El Sol offers authentic Mexican cuisine inspired by the heritage of chef Alfredo Solis and his sister, Jessica. The duo began as dishwashers and rose to executive chefs before founding their dynamic eatery near Mount Vernon Square. Indulge in street food staples like huaraches (flatbreads stuffed with fresh cheeses and meats), tortas and tacos.

1227 11th Street NW, Washington, DC 20001

Mi Vida

Chef and owner Roberto Santibañez, a native of Mexico City and one of the most respected authorities on Mexican cuisine in the U.S., features a menu inspired by street food and traditional Mexican home cooking in a modern, elevated presentation. Guests can enjoy traditional dishes such as carne asada and tacos de carnitas, mole enchiladas and Alitas Adobadas (adobo-rubbed spicy chicken wings with avocado mousse dip). Hand-crushed guacamole is offered in unique iterations, including a version with blue cheese, grapes and almonds. Mi Vida also offers a wide selection of tequilas and mezcals, in addition to specialty cocktails and margaritas.

98 District Square SW Washington, DC 20024
1901 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
575 7th Street NW, Washington, DC 20004

Lauriol Plaza

Stretch out and enjoy the spacious Lauriol Plaza, located just south of Adams Morgan on 18th Street NW. Settle into a streetside table on the patio and join the throngs of people ordering sizzling fajitas from a menu stacked with traditional Mexican dishes. All-time favorites include the Gambas al Ajillo (sauteed shrimp with olive oil, garlic and sherry), tostones (fried green plantains), ceviche and pitchers upon pitchers of margaritas. Lauriol Plaza also doles out a variety of enchiladas, flautas and quesadillas. Good to know: Its sister restaurant, Cactus Cantina near the Washington National Cathedral, is a kid-friendly favorite thanks to a mesmerizing tortilla-making machine, quick service, crayons and coloring sheets, and a massive layout favorable to finding a seat.

1835 18th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009

Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar

Venture just beyond Chinatown and you'll discover Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar, which brings Havana vibes to 9th and H Street NW. Feast on the chorizo- and shrimp-packed paella mixta or put down a crave-worthy Cuban, inspired by the kind that made Tampa's Ybor City famous. By day, sip on a minty mojito amid palms and verdant plant life on the patio. By night, a DJ dance party breaks out every Friday and Saturday for Cuba Libre Nights.

801 9th Street NW, Washington, DC 20001

China Chilcano

If DC had a culinary Mount Rushmore, son of Spain and global humanitarian José Andrés would certainly be on it, so it’s fitting that the acclaimed chef has four restaurants that have achieved Bib Gourmand status in the esteemed Michelin Guide. China Chilcano, one of his restaurants, is an homage to chifa cuisine, which is native to Peru and grew out of the nation's 19th- and 20th-century Chinese immigrant community who combined local ingredients with Asian cooking styles. Head to Penn Quarter for a feast filled with ceviche, dim sum, stir-frys and even sashimi.

418 7th Street NW, Washington, DC 20004

Mi Cuba Café

The owners of Mi Cuba Café in Columbia Heights hail from Havana, and it shows. You’ll be transported to the streets of the bustling city with the café’s colorful walls and fixtures. Try the spot’s take on the traditional Cuban sandwich or order up some tasty empanadas. We also highly recommend the plantains; they’re fried in a skillet and cooked to a perfect golden crisp.

1424 Park Road NW, Washington, DC 20010

Oyamel Cocina Mexicana

Mexican-inspired food experiences reign supreme at Oyamel — and chef José Andrés wouldn’t have it any other way. Andrés pays homage to the North American nation with plenty of adventurous eats, from the protein-packed grasshopper tacos to the cactus and green bean salad. There's plenty more to love, too, like the tableside guacamole options, plus several creative margarita concoctions – and yes, there are plenty of other taco options to choose from. ¡Salud!

401 7th Street NW, Washington, DC 20004

Las Placitas

Barracks Row near Capitol Hill serves as the setting of Las Placitas, which is the Spanish name of a small plaza located at an active volcano known as “El Chaparrastique” in San Miguel, El Salvador, the city of origin for the restaurant’s founders, the brothers Amaya (Isidoro, Ramon and Jose, respectively). Open since 1990, this small shop has made a big name for itself in one of the busiest neighborhoods in the District by serving up Salvadoran selections like El Tipico, which combines a  chicken tamale, a pupusa, sweet plantains and yucca.

1100 8th Street SE, Washington, DC 20003

Chupacabra Latin Kitchen & Taqueria

What started as a food truck has grown into a buzzworthy restaurant in Northeast DC. Chupacabra serves up classic Mexican dishes, frozen drinks and even a birria cheesesteak. Make an early visit for breakfast tacos, burritos and quesadillas, and more than 10 varieties of acai bowls.

822 H Street NE Unit 2, Washington, DC 20002

Arepa Zone

The Venezuelan café known as Arepa Zone burst onto the scene as a food truck in 2014 and now features a 14th Street locale, concessions inside Audi Field and Nats Park, a takeout-only spot in Fairfax, Va. and a restaurant at Western Market. Founders Ali and Gaby have worked to bring Venezuelan arepas, capachas and tequeños to diners all over the DMV. Don’t miss out on its sister spot, Mosaico by Arepa Zone, located inside La Cosecha.

1121 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20005

Del Sur Cafe

Within steps of the Dupont Circle Metro lies Del Sur, which takes you on a journey all across the South American continent. On the cafe’s extensive menu, you'll find dishes from Uruguay, Argentina, Peru and Colombia. Del Sur is managed by its two creators (and best friends) Marco Sosa and Juan Machado, who met nearly 30 years ago in Montevideo, Uruguay.

2016 P Street NW, Washington, DC 20036

Pink Taco

Located in Navy Yard, Pink Taco serves up vibrant Mexican cuisine – including, yes, pink tacos – among a flashy atmosphere with modern nods to traditional Day of the Dead décor. The Vegas-born establishment also offers an innovative cocktail list, taco Tuesday specials and a brunch menu featuring a Mexican benedict and pink tres leches pancakes.

100 M Street SE, Washington, DC 20003

The Royal

A coffee shop by day and a lively kitchen by night, Royal satisfies customers throughout the day in DC’s LeDroit Park neighborhood. Founded by Paul Carlson and his family, Royal takes its name from the Royal Liquor Store, previously located in this same spot. The family’s international background means you’ll find empanadas and arepas on the menu. The in-house, wood-fired grill is responsible for Royal’s signature flavors.

501 Florida Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20001

El Rinconcito Café

With a name that translates to “little corner,” you may think El Rinconcito doesn’t pack the punch of other Latin American-inspired restaurants in the area. You’d be wrong! From Mexican platters to fried taquitos to Salvadoran specialties to pupusas and tamales, this little corner offers a big variety of cuisine styles and spicy flavors. And it's not uncommon to see people waiting for a table. Wash it all down with a Dos Equis or add a little more kick with a jalapeño margarita.

1129 11th Street NW, Washington, DC 20001

El Centro D.F.

Renowned chef and restauranteur Richard Sandoval serves up the comforts of his native Mexico at El Centro in Georgetown. Situated in a vibrant, open-kitchen atmosphere, the menu consists of flavor-filled tacos, shareable plates and enchiladas. The restaurant also features a wide array of tequilas and the bottomless brunch is a local favorite.

1218 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20007

dLeña

Also from Chef Sandoval, this Mexican cocina and mezcaleria offers signature smoked entrées, several types of ceviche and unique sharing plates. dLeña is derived from the Spanish word “leña,” which means “firewood.” As you may imagine, the restaurant features a wood-fired oven, which serves as a nod to the rustic, open-fire cooking techniques of Mexico’s past. If you’re planning on grabbing a drink, the bar features hand-crafted margaritas, Latin cocktails, mezcal, cervezas and vino.

476 K Street NW Suite D, Washington, DC 20001

Mercy Me

Located inside Yours Truly DC, Mercy Me is the latest creation from Andrew Dana and Daniela Moreira, the duo responsible for Call Your Mother and Timber Pizza Co. Beverage director Micah Wilder adds his own special spin to the "Sorta South American" cafe, restaurant and bar via boozy, spritzy and frozen cocktails. Chef Moreira's Argentinian roots shines through in riffs on classic South American dishes, while a delicious pastry menu makes dessert to die for.

1143 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20037

Haydee's

One of the longstanding favorites in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood, Haydee’s is a must-visit for nightlife folk. Founded in 1990 by Salvadoran husband-wife duo, bartender Haydee and chef Mario, the eatery is famed for its signature sounds, from the deafening platters of sizzling fajitas to the live jazz, rock and karaoke acts that play regularly.

3102 Mt Pleasant Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20010
6303 Georgia Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20009

Pisco y Nazca Ceviche Gastrobar

Drawing inspiration from the top eateries in Peru, Pisco y Nazca Ceviche Gastrobar packs bold flavors, namesake cocktails and an incredible selection of local and international beers into its downtown DC location. Expect feel-good vibes as you settle in amongst the soulful decor and order up Pisco’s mouthwatering ceviche. Open-kitchen views mean you get to see all the action.

1823 L Street NW, Washington, DC 20036

Don Juan

Tuck into any number of menu specials (you can score an enchilada, pupusa and burrito for $14!) at Don Juan, a 30-year-old family business that has been housed in Mount Pleasant and changed hands to a long-time employee. The menu is teeming with Latin American classics; case in point: ceviche, fried plantains and chicarron con yuca.

1660 Lamont Street NW, Washington, DC 20010

Maïz64

Maïz64 brings Mexican flavors with a modern twist to 14th Street. As its name suggests, corn is on full display as tortillas are made daily in-house in an open-concept comal process. Additionally, local ingredients come together to make vibrant dishes and the downstairs mezcal lounge offers unique cocktails and top-notch tequila.

1324 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20005