There are some dining establishments that stand out as the 5 best Mexican restaurants in Washington, D.C. This multi-ethnic city has great culinary fare from around the globe, and these places stand out as the places to find the best Mexican dishes.
- Guapos. Guapos is a family-owned Mexican restaurant that started with one small location in the Tenleytown area of the city and has grown over the last decade, with restaurants now also in Maryland and Virginia. It is widely considered one of the best Mexican restaurants in Washington, D.C. Known for fantastic chips and salsa—their nachos were voted among the best in the country—Guapos has quality ingredients and a great atmosphere. The fajitas are a local favorite, as are the margaritas. Any location is great, but the original store in Tenleytown has the most authentic Mexican feel. Guapos: 4515 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20016.
- Lauriol Plaza. Lauriol Plaza is in the Dupont Circle neighborhood, and its reputation is so well-founded that it is notorious for having some of the longest wait times for a table in the entire city. In the past, this establishment has been distinguished as having the best Mexican food in the city, and it even served former president Bill Clinton. The decorations have a Mexican/Spanish flare, with a brightly colored mural taking up one wall. “The Swirl” margarita is very popular and the restaurant easily meets the needs of vegetarians and vegans, making it one of the best Mexican restaurants in Washington, D.C. Lauriol Plaza: 1835 18th St., NW, Washington, D.C. 20009.
- Cactus Cantina. This Cleveland Park neighborhood establishment received a great Tex-Mex seal of approval when it was visited by that most famous of Texans, former president George Bush, who dined there while in office with his wife Laura. Tequila flows freely here, and is one of the house specialties. Prices here are quite reasonable, making it a popular place for families—the kids will like to watch their tortillas being made. The beef enchiladas and chips and salsa get high marks at this establishment, one of the best Mexican restaurants in Washington, D.C. Cactus Cantina: 3300 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20016.
- Rosa Mexicano. This small chain has an establishment in D.C.’s growing Penn Quarter, where lunchtime crowds and theater-goers pack in for an upscale experience. According to Zagat’s, Rosa offers “the gold standard in upscale modern Mexican cuisine.” The guacamole is perhaps the signature item and it’s made fresh at your table, as you watch. An extensive brunch menu is offered in addition to fun kids’ items and tasty margaritas. Rosa Mexicano: 575 7th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20004.
- Oyamel. This upscale Penn Quarter restaurant offers truly authentic dishes that are unlike those you get at typical chain restaurants, earning it a reputation as one of the best Mexican restaurants in Washington, D.C. The modern, fashionable setting with lots of windows lets diners look out on activities in the city while they try a variety of “small plate” offerings, including a number of ceviches, a dish of grilled quail with a traditional Mayan sauce of toasted pumpkin seeds, or crispy brussels sprouts with an arbol chile sauce. Chef Jose Andres has a reputation for innovation and he doesn't disappoint here. Oyamel: 401 7th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20004.