The Bottom Line
El Centro, a restaurant in two lively locations of Washington DC (U Street and Georgetown), offers authentic Mexican fare and 200 different varieties of tequilas. The restaurant spans multiple floors offering a different atmosphere on each. The food is creatively presented and prices are reasonable.
- Good upscale Mexican cuisine
- Unique Mexican drinks, great mojitos
- Interesting setting, something for everyone-quietest setting on the lower level, lively rooftop bar
- Reasonable prices
- Dark lighting, noisy first level
- Address: 1819 14th Street, NW Washington, DC (U Street), 1218 Wisconsin Ave. NW Washington DC (Georgetown)
- Phone: (202) 328-3131 (U Street), (202) 333-4100 (Georgetown)
- Hours: U Street - Lunch Mon-Fri 11am-3pm, Dinner, Daily 5-11pm, Late Night Thurs-Sat 11pm-2am, Brunch Sat-Sun 10:30am-3pm; Georgetown Lunch Mon-Fri 11am-4pm, Dinner Daily 4-11pm, Late Night Fri-Sat 11pm-3am, Brunch Sat-Sun 10am-3pm
- Prices: Appetizers $9.95-$10.95, Tacos $10.95-$11.95, Enchiladas $10.95-$13.95, Soups and salads $6.95-$11.95 and Chef's specials $14.95-$19.95.
- Metro: U Street/African-American Civil War Memorial/Cardozo
- Valet parking available beginning at 6pm. Prices range from $10 Sunday thru Thursday to $15 Friday and Saturday.
Guide Review - El Centro D.F. Restaurant Review - Washington DC
El Centro D.F. offers authentic Mexican fare and 200 different varieties of tequilas. The restaurant’s menu is based on traditional dishes ranging from authentic chiles and cheeses, to fresh tortillas, to house-made sauces such as adobo, entomatada and tomatillo. Signature dishes include: Tacos al Pastor with adobo marinade pork belly, cilantro, onion and grilled pineapple; Jalisco Shrimp & Crab Enchiladas with oaxaca cheese, corn, rajas and crema fresco, as well as Carne Asada with grilled skirt steak, sautéed chile poblano, chimichurri, chile morita sauce, sweet corn tamale and charro beans. I especially enjoyed the chunky texture and flavorful spices in the guacamole and the ceviche. I enjoyed a selection of tacos which were all very good. My favorites were the baja (beer battered market fish with mexican slaw, tomato, corn,avocado and chipotle aioli) and Chipolte BBQ (grilled chicken with cilantro ranch, cotija cheese and lettuce mix). We also loved the Pork Carnitas (slow roasted pork shoulder).
The U Street restaurant has 260 seats divided into three sections: the Taqueria, Tequileria and the upstairs Rooftop. The Taqueria can accommodate 52 guests for dining in the café and 10 seats at the bar; the Tequileria can seat 50 in the lounge and 12 seats at the bar. The Rooftop has a capacity for 94 guests with two levels, each with its own bar. The decor is warm and cozy, and the dining areas are dimly lit. The furnishing are unique, featuring stone walls with ancient Mayan-looking masks, reclaimed wood, vintage Mexican newspapers, rough concrete surfaces and antique chandeliers. The dining room in the lower level is relatively quiet, while the ground-level offers casual dining and tacos-to-go in a livelier atmosphere.
The Georgetown El Centro D.F. is similar in design to its sister restaurant on 14th Street, with the addition of a secluded outdoor patio that can seat 55 guests. Spread over two floors, the restaurant can accommodate 59 guests on the first level and 99 guests on the second.
As is common in the industry, the writer was provided with a complimentary meal for the purpose of the review. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy. All prices and offering mentioned herein are subject to change without notice.
Reviewed October 2013 - Prices are subject to change