I am pretty up front with you guys about my ability to consume large quantities of delicious food. I’m not bashful about it. I mean, it’s (mostly) in moderation and my restaurant posts are just a lot more fun to look at than the healthy chicken I had for dinner last night.
But there are times when I admit I take pause before sharing just how gluttonous a meal was. I do have shame, just very little of it. This was one of those times.
Ultimately, though, I feel that you really need to know about Las Placitas, despite the fact that reading this post may result in weight gain.
Located between Barracks Row and Navy Yard, Las Placitas is a family-run restaurant serving Salvadoran and classic Mexican food dishes. It’s a small, unassuming space where the focus is all about the food and service, which we noticed as soon as we ordered our half pitcher of margaritas and began to look through the extensive menu.
I’ve been feeling rather homesick lately. There’s been a lot going on with my family and all I’ve wanted is to be there with them. We have a trip scheduled over Easter, but that still feels so far away. So this meal may have been my subconscious way of soothing my woes. Not only was the food incredibly delicious and comforting, but it reminded me a lot of the sort of Mexican food I’m used to in Oklahoma.
DC has this terrible habit of turning Mexican food into an over-priced, twisted version of itself, which can be delicious (hello, Oyamel) but not always necessary. Let’s just stick to the basics, am I right?
And the basics are executed perfectly at Las Placitas. We started with an order of plantanos fritos, one of my favorite foods. I was glad that the plantains weren’t breaded, nor were they greasy. I was a bit surprised that they were served with sour cream and refried beans, but the savory elements balanced the sweetness perfectly. I should also point out that those were the best refried beans I’ve ever had.
And this is where things get ridiculous. (In a good way.) You see, I wanted to order a reasonable amount of food. My plan was to order one pork tamale from the appetizer list, along with a side of (heart healthy) guacamole that Tom and I could share. And maybe an order of rice and beans, because those beans were so delicious.
Logically, our kind server explained to me that if I ordered the tamales platter, I would get everything my heart desired (tamales, rice, beans and guac) all on the same plate. Classic up-selling, but at a family-run restaurant I don’t mind – this is their livelihood after all.
So, imagine my surprise when a large order of guacamole, salsa and chips arrived at our table shortly thereafter.
Our server deposited this delicious assortment with an apology that she hadn’t given us chips sooner (we didn’t even know we were supposed to get chips!) and we were off. One should never look gift chips in the mouth. Er, actually they should. Right before eating them. And these were good chips, crispy but not greasy. I liked the salsa a lot too. DC salsas are almost always smoky in flavor, which I don’t enjoy as much as the next person. This was simple and light with a hint of spice. The guac was fresh and tasty as well.
Then our gigantic plates of food arrived, and all we could do was laugh and enjoy.
My tamale platter was great, although maybe just a touch too heavy on the masa. I did manage to be somewhat reasonable and save one to take home, along with about half of the chips and guac.
Tom ordered a combo plate of goodness, one chile relleno, one chicken tamale and one chicken enchilada and, along with his tall man’s metabolism, ate almost the entire thing. (It could just be me, but I thought he looked more svelte than usual the next day. Must be nice.)
We were feeling downright elated at having found such a delicious, affordable restaurant within walking distance of our house and already talking about returning soon when the owner approached us. He asked how we’d enjoyed our meal, and after we gushed about how much we loved everything he told us he’d be right back, he was bringing us tequila.
My shot taking days are long behind me, but with a full belly I decided “what the hell” and it was down the hatch. Surprisingly, it was really good. Our benefactor of tequila had not told us which particular variety we were drinking, so I suppose it could easily have been well liquor that only tasted delicious because it was free. But my guess is that it was something a little nicer to go down quite so smooth.
We were completely won over by Las Placitas, from start to finish. Although we went primarily Mexican in our menu choices, several of the Salvadoran items peaked my interest as well so we will certainly be back to give that a thorough inspection.
The next time you’re craving chips and salsa or a meal covered in cheesy goodness, skip the chain and head to this local gem – you won’t be disappointed.
Free chips and tequila are not enough to sway my honest opinion, and the owners of Las Placitas have no idea I’ve written this glowing review. They don’t even have any social media with which I can inform them of my adoration. So take my word for it and go! And wear loose pants…