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.
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 pops at Jarabe, sparkling cocktails at Spritz 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
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
Huacatay Peruvian Chicken
A hidden gem tucked away in DC’s Brightwood neighborhood, Huacatay delivers some of the best Peruvian chicken in the District. Go with a quarter or whole chicken meal or select a decadent sandwich. Sides include fried yuca, quinoa salad, sweet potato fries, French fries and fried plantains. You’ll need a refreshment with your meal and Huacatay handles that masterfully, too: Try the Maracuya (a delicious take on passion fruit juice) or the Agua de Jamaica (hibiscus flower iced tea).
2314 4th Street NE, Washington, DC 20002
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 for 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
Masa, mole and mezcal. These are the three M’s of southern Mexican cuisine that Espita abides by. This restaurant, run by master mezcalier (yes, that’s a thing) Josh Phillips, has made quite the splash in the Shaw dining scene and received the award for Cocktail Program of the Year at the 2018 RAMMYS. Inside, take note of the larger than life murals, which were painted by Oaxacan mural artist Yescka. Be sure to also check out Ghostburger, a pop-up located within Espita (if you make a reservation at the latter, you can order from either menu). Please note that Espita is closed through Dec. 27.
1250 9th Street NW, Washington, DC 20001
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 chicken tamale, a pupusa, a sweet plantain 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 DC. To this point, Chupacabra has served up more than 150,000 tacos, 22,000 orders of chips and guac and nearly 22,000 frozen margaritas. Not bad! A no-frills menu filled with classic Mexican dishes, sangria and Mexican beers complement the stuff we’ve already mentioned, and it’s all coated in a lively atmosphere in Northeast. Happy hour runs everyday from 10 p.m. to close if you feel like hanging around a while.
822 H Street NE Unit 2, Washington, DC 20002
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 soon-to-come 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
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 the margarita jalapeño.
1129 11th Street NW, Washington, DC 20001
El Centro DF
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
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. The cafe is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., while dinner and drinks are served from 5-10 p.m.
1143 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20037
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
Tuck into any number of menu specials (you can score an enchilada, pupusa and burrito for $12!) 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