I entered El Catrachito, a tiny restaurant in Wheaton in what clearly used to be a railroad car-style diner, having little idea what Honduran food was. I left wondering why it isn’t more popular. Mexico has its tacos and El Salvador has its pupusas while Honduras has baleadas. What are baleadas, you ask? Well they are a deliciously unhealthy tortilla folded over and filled with refried beans, scrambled eggs, avocado and cream. I ordered the baleadas mixtas which also had deliciously-seasoned chicken and beef thrown in for good measure. Make no mistake: there is nothing remotely healthy about these bad boys. But they are extremely satisfying.
This cute little spot is nothing remotely fancy but it certainly is delicious and well-worth a visit.
El Catrachito is located at 2408 Univ Blvd W in Wheaton, MD.
While the DC area is loaded with Mexican taquerias and Salvadoran pupserias, Guatemalan restaurants are a bit harder to come by. La Bamba Restaurant in Silver Spring is your spot to try Guatemalan food, which is similar to the food of its Mexican and Salvadoran neighbors but with its own unique twists. You will find Mexican food on the menu here, but that’s for the Gringos. That said, I was the only Gringo in the restaurant when I went.
Guatemala does have its own style of tacos, which are rolled up, fried and crisy, but I opted for the pepian de pollo, a chicken stew, at the waitress’s recommendation. I tend to favor red meat over chicken and don’t generally love stews but the special Guatemalan sauce that the chicken was stewed in was extra flavorful and the green hot sauce that they brought me added the perfect kick.
For dessert, I had the rellenitos, a sort of fried plantain made into the shape of an empanada and stuffed with a sweet black bean filling. While it may seem strange to the North American palate to have black beans for dessert, it’s really no different than red beans in Asian cuisine.
La Bamba certainly isn’t fancy, but this no-frills, homey spot serves inexpensive, soulful and satisfying meals.
La Bamba is located at 8241 Georgia Ave, Silver Spring, MD
DC hasn’t traditionally been known for Mexican food but the Mexican food scene here is actually surprisingly good, with a bunch of good taquerias and well as spots for other types of authentic fare, such as Oyamel and La Puerta Verde. While Taco-ma Yucatán Chicken does serve tacos (hence the punny name) it specializes in rotisserie chicken, often referred to as Peruvian chicken but called Yucatán chicken here and is seasoned with spices typical of the Yucatán. With cute decor, friendly staff, reasonable prices, and tasty rotisserie chicken, this is a solid spot for a casual and quick meal.
Taco-ma Yucatán Chicken is located at 353 Cedar St NW.
Dock FC is a sports bar dedicated to soccer fans; its massive screens are perfect for those looking to watch the latest matchup between Chelsea and Liverpool and the industrial mod space, inside Ivy City’s Hecht Warehouse building, lends the place a cool, sleek vibe. However, you don’t have to be a soccer (or shall I say, football) fan to enjoy a trip to Dock FC, because they also serve Mexican food from their sister restaurant next door (which is adjoined to Dock FC by a hallway), La Puerta Verde. Both spots are owned by restauranteur Ari Gejdenson. I ordered guacamole, which was excellent, though the chips themselves seemed like they were straight out of a bag and would have been much better had they been homemade. The tacos were tasty as well; I ordered al pastor, lengua, and fried cod. While they weren’t exceptional or better than say, Tacos El Chilango or Taqueria Habanero, they were solid. Service was friendly, if haphazard (for instance, the food runner forgot napkins so I had to wriggle my way to the bar to ask for them).
Dock FC is located at 1400 Okie St NE.
Honey’s Empanadas is certainly not a healthy food truck to eat your lunch at but it certainly is tasty. Unlike the empanadas at Julia’s Empanadas which are baked and make a claim to be nutritious, Honey’s Empanadas are very much fried. And if you want, you can get this fried empanada with fried pork inside it. There are a variety of interesting options, including a Korean kalbi beef empanada called the “Yi” and a chicken tikka masala empanada called the “Asha.” At least the day I went, there was only one veggie option. You can get two empanadas plus a side for $10, which is a bit steep for the quantity of food. The sides are also not exactly healthy and consist of tostones (fried plantains), fried yuca and red beans and rice. But for a day when you just want something greasy, comforting and delicious that’s made with love, Honey’s Empanadas is a good way to go.
You can find Honey’s Empanadas’ location on their Twitter.
Panas, an empanadas shop near Dupont Circle, is an excellent spot to get your empanada fix. It is bright, cheery, friendly, cheap and offers a wide variety of delicious empanadas, including many options for vegetarians. The empanadas on offer range from the carnivore lover’s chipotle steak to the “popeye” (sautéed spinach and onions, golden raisins, cream and goat cheese). The empanadas are smaller and lighter than the ones at Julia’s Empanadas and at $2.50 each, are best ordered a few at a time. Stop in for a fast, cheap, and tasty meal or snack!
Panas is located at 2029 P St NW.
Tacos El Chilango is a taqueria located at 1119 V St NW. Alongside Taqueria Habanero and Lezo’s Taqueria, Tacos El Chilango is one of DC’s best and one of the city’s most pleasant budget dining experiences. While Tacos El Chilango is conveniently located near the U-Street/Cardozo metro station, it is tucked away on decidedly residential V Street. You could easily miss this tiny spot if it weren’t for the (somewhat annoying but entirely necessary) bright flashing lights outside. The cozy, warm interior is adorably decorated and friendly and the tacos are great value. You do have to order a minimum of three (but you want three) and it costs only $8.50. The menu is pretty small but the tacos come quickly and are very tasty. Add in a margarita for $5.50 and you and your date or significant other have a tasty, inexpensive and low key dinner out. For a starving non-profit worker like myself, places like this are clutch.
Los Hermanos is a Dominican cafeteria-style restaurant located at 1428 Park Rd NW. When I think of Dominican food I can’t help but think of SNL’s parodies of David Ortiz, aka Big Papi, played by Kenan Thompson. And just like Big Papi, you can have a big Dominican lunch at Los Hermanos. It is simple, cheap and friendly. You choose a rice, two meats and a side. I went for rice and peas, pulled pork and beef with a side of mangú (mashed green plantains). Since it is cafeteria style, the food isn’t cooked to order. It’s also fairly simple, but it’s filling and satisfying. I washed it down with a sugary sweet Refresco De Merengue, which is essentially a Dominican version of champagne cola.
I admit I paid no attention to the Corn Factory food truck for a long time, mainly because I assumed from the name that it was all about corn on the cob or popcorn. I’m one of the few people in this world who doesn’t like corn on the cob, and while I love popcorn, it’s not something I eat at lunch. But names can be deceiving. The Corn Factory is actually a Venezuelan and Mexican food truck specializing in corn-based fare like arepas, cachapas, corn tacos, empanadas and tamales. You can find their location on their Twitter. Cachapas are a delicious stuffed corn tortillas that look a bit like pupusas, except for the fact that they are corn-based and not beef-based. I ordered the chachapas mixta, which were filled with chicken and beef, plus delicious seasoning. I added cheese for $0.50, which made them all the more flavorful. It wasn’t a huge quantity of food, but wasn’t tiny either- at $9 it was reasonable by food truck standards, and totally delicious. The line was short as was the wait time and the lady running it was very friendly- I imagine if their offerings were clearer from the name, they would get a lot more traffic. Check it out!
When I found myself at RFK stadium for my first Major League Soccer game (DC United vs. the Montreal Impact) I figured I would use the opportunity to explore the food options. I read an article in DCist about how RFK Stadium’s concessions had been rated among the best in the country because of its handmade, Latin American offerings like pupusas and local offerings like half-smokes. The variety was certainly there, but the quality wasn’t. I started by ordering pork and cheese pupusas, but when I bit into my pupusas, there was no pork to be found. I was left with rather bland, dry, marginal pupusas, which was a disappointment.
Next, I ate a half-smoke, which was cooked on a hot dog roller (like everything at RFK, the concessions are makeshift since the actual kitchen equipment that may once have been there has been taken out). It was also mediocre, topped with average chili, nacho cheese sauce and unpleasantly pungent. The biggest redeeming quality of the concessions is the $10 Tecate, which sounds expensive until you realize that they give you 24 ounces of it. It’s poured into a cup out of a huge can because (of course) they don’t have taps.