Thursday, August 9, 2012

DC Spotlight: New Vegetarian Menu at El Centro D.F.

Today's post spotlights El Centro D.F., which recently started offering (upon request) a separate vegetarian menu, thereby earning an asterisk (*) by its name in my list of recommended places on the Washington, DC Restaurants page of this website.

El Centro D.F. serves authentic Mexican food and is one of three Richard Sandoval restaurants in D.C.  It is located on the 14th Street corridor, in between the U Street and Logan Circle neighborhoods, which is a developing area with a lot of new, hip eateries.  Sandoval's other two restaurants, Masa 14 and Zengo, specialize in Latin-Asian cuisine.  I recently wrote about the new rooftop menu at Masa 14, which is located right next door to El Centro D.F.  But my favorite of the three is the more upscale Zengo, which is located in Chinatown and also offers a separate vegetarian menu upon request.  I promise to write about Zengo one day soon.

But back to El Centro D.F., which is housed in an energetic, three-story building.  The main dining room and tequileria (with its extensive tequila menu) is located on the lower level.  A more casual taqueria and take-out counter are located on the ground level, and the rooftop bar is located on the upper level.  The vegetarian menu includes a number of appetizers, entrees, and side dishes, many of which can be made vegan.  The tableside guacamole is excellent, as are the grilled cactus tacos (pictured below).  

Grilled cactus tacos served wtih refried black beans and Spanish rice and red sauce
Vegetable enchiladas served with refried black beans and Spanish rice

UPDATE:  I returned to El Centro D.F. in August 2013 and was saddened to learn that the restaurant no longer offers a separate vegetarian menu, although it still appears on the restaurant's website.  

UPDATE #2:  As of June 2014, the vegetarian menu is back!  I contacted the restaurant after my August 2013 visit to find out why the menu no longer was available, but unfortunately, it never responded.  However, when I returned last week, I asked the host if they offered a separate vegetarian menu, and it immediately was provided to me.  So maybe they had it all along and my server last summer just wasn't aware, or maybe they stopped offering it and then brought it back by popular demand.  Either way, I'm thrilled that it's available, especially because the restaurant now has a new Georgetown location.  Pictured below is the chayote asado (grilled pear squash), which is one of the chef's vegetarian specials, served with refried black beans, Mexican rice, and corn tortillas.  It was quite tasty! 

Chayote asado, served with grilled peppers, onions, mushrooms, roasted corn, refried black beans, Mexican rice, and corn tortillas

El Centro D.F. on Urbanspoon