El Centro D.F.

El Centro D.F.

  • Dining Style: Casual Dining
  • Website: http://www.richardsandoval.com/elcentrodf/
  • Phone: (202) 328-3131
  • Hours of Operation:
    Lunch: Daily: 11:00am - 2:00pm; Dinner: Nightly: 5:00pm - 11:00pm; Late Night: Sunday - Thursday: 11:00pm - 2:00am, Friday - Saturday: 11:00pm - 3:00am Brunch: Saturday - Sunday 10:30am - 3pm.
  • Payment Options: AMEX,Diners Club,Discover,MasterCard,Visa
  • Cuisine: Comfort Food, Mexican
  • Executive Chef: Richard Sandoval
  • Dress Code: Smart Casual
  • Accepts Walk-Ins: Yes
  • Additional Details: Banquet/Private Rooms, Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, Beer, Dancing, Entertainment, Full Bar, Happy Hour, Late Night, Patio/Outdoor Dining, Private Room, Takeout, Weekend Brunch, Wine
  • Entertainment: Latin Thursdays
    10 PM-2 AM | Every Thursday in the Tequileria Lounge
    Salsa / Merengue / Bachata / Top 40 / Samba / and more
    No cover | Dress to impress!
    Rooftop HH Drinks 10pm-11pm
  • Special Events: Please contact Nora Bankert at nbankert@richardsandoval.com to book your table. We'll help you select times and menus just right for your gathering. We look forward to hearing from you!

Getting there

  • Cross Street: Swann St, NW
  • Public Transit: U Street Metro Stop and all 14th Street bus lines.
  • Parking: Street Parking
  • Parking Details: Only Street Parking
A word from El Centro D.F.
Internationally acclaimed Chef Richard Sandoval combines traditional culinary techniques with fresh, high quality ingredients to create authentic Mexican comfort food at El Centro D.F. Designed to reflect the bustling street shops and colorful rituals of everyday life in Mexico, the restaurant is comprised of three distinct dining spaces all under one roof. The Taqueria features a casual atmosphere where a lively open kitchen serves authentic favorites. The Tequileria allows guests to dine or lounge as mixologists craft Latin cocktails from 200 Tequilas & Mezcals. Along the rooftop guests raise a glass at two open-air bars. Warm, Latin-inspired service and welcoming hospitality will round out your experience.
Continued
Foodspotting photos
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Awards voted by OpenTable diners
  • Diners' Choice WinnerMexican
El Centro D.F. reviews from OpenTable diners
144 reviews since July 24, 2014
Overall Rating4.1
  • Food4.2
    Service3.9
  • Ambiance3.9
    Noise LevelEnergetic
92% of reviewers would recommend this restaurant to a friend.
good for groups (59)fit for foodies (55)great for brunch (55)hot spot (54)vibrant bar scene (51)neighborhood gem (48)late-night find (18)great for lunch (18)special occasion (17)great for outdoor dining (16)romantic (8)kid-friendly (5)scenic view (2)Show More
  • Great place, closest to authentic Mexican food.
    MmmgoodVIP
    Dined on 11/16/2014
    The table guacamole (spicy) is my favorite, the baja tacos are an excellent choice if you don't want fried ask that the fish be grilled. The brunch is the best in DC! All you can eat menu and all you can drink Mimosas and/or traditional flavored waters! Serving sizes are great you will get your money's worth!
    Special Features:
    good for groups, great for brunch, great for lunch, hot spot, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Fail
    Memo
    Dined on 11/15/2014
    3rd time for brunch and 3rd time that the wait staff WERE HORRIBLE! SLOW SLOW SLOW! Food was slow to arrive and drinks were even slower got there at 1:00 didn't get sat (with a reservation) until 1:50 Got drinks 2:20 food at 2:25. Brunch was over at 3:00. Would not recommend this place, food was good staff was the worst! I could not find one employee that was friendly or helpful except for the gentleman that brought us chips and salsa.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
  • Great bar and food
    mjp396
    Dined on 11/14/2014
    Amazing selection of Tequilas. Cocktails better by the glass. Loved the food - you have to try the homemade guacamole made in front of you!
    Special Features:
    good for groups, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • reliable mexican food
    dcdining
    Dined on 11/11/2014
    overall, the food and drinks were good. i had the steak huarache and guacamole for appetizer. the steak huarache was very good but the guacamole was just okay. it lacked the proper seasoning and spice (we ordered medium but you barely taste the pepper). the rest of the people liked their entree. Tacos were good. The shrimp in my entree, however, was a little overcooked. I would dine again at el centro but will skip the guacamole and chipotle shrimp next time.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • basement gem
    foodmission
    Dined on 11/5/2014
    Great evening celebrating my husband's birthday with our 3 teenagers. We sat in the basement which has a really cool vibe. We will definitely return.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, hot spot, kid-friendly, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Fun neighborhood place
    BexleyVIP
    Dined on 10/30/2014
    Fun and casual. Great Margarita menu. Nice selection and tasty.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Fantastic Brunch
    lovebrunch
    Dined on 10/26/2014
    Great service, awesome food, and overall fun time!! The waitress was extremely attentive, pre-ordered awesome food for our group, and was very friendly.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, great for brunch, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Best Area Mexican
    RRogVIP
    Dined on 10/18/2014
    Best Mexican food in the area. Quality ingredients, variety of choices and not greasy at all. Most items are gluten free and noted so on the menu.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great food, fun halloween decor!
    sonejah21
    Dined on 10/18/2014
    Had a party of 6 and all of us enjoyed our meal at El Centro D.F. Our server was a bit scripted, but nice enough. Food was surprisingly exceptional!
    Special Features:
    good for groups, hot spot, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Delicious Food, indifferent service
    badgringa
    Dined on 10/18/2014
    The food is delicious--one of a few legitimate Mexican kitchens in DC, but the service was terrible. Waiter could not have cared less--barely spoke, did not clear plates, left us without drinks or food for long stretches. The food was also clearly plated by someone disillusioned with their job--an exception to otherwise good Mexican food were the chilaquiles, which were so lazily thrown together as to be inedible (basically a plate of tortilla chips with great salsa, cheese, onions tossed around the edge). Want to love this place, but they really need to get it together. Also, we were surprised to see dollar store Halloween decorations all over the lovely Day of the Dead themed space--why not use traditional Day of the Dead decoration?
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Awesome Brunch
    OpenTable Diner Since 2009
    Dined on 10/13/2014
    This dining experience was perhaps one of my best ever!!! Waitress Jessica perfect when she saw we were having indecision on what to order she offered to choose the best dishes for us, and she did, spectacular recommendations. Drink refills, food service, speedy and fabulous. Food was delicious. Make sure to save room for dessert as the plantains and churros are out of this world,
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for brunch, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Great drink special
    Brunchbunch
    Dined on 10/12/2014
    The drink special for brunch was great at el centro df 35$ includes bottomless mimosas, margaritas and more. I had a little trouble with the hostess and a slanted table but I was able to resolve the problem quickly with a manager.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Dinner Dancing Spot
    prfctstrmVIP
    Dined on 10/10/2014
    Great spot to go for dinner and dancing. Definitely going back.
    Special Features:
    hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Yum!
    WinstonBaoVIP
    Dined on 10/10/2014
    El Centro never fails (goes for both locations). Excellent food - fun to share. Server was attentive without being intrusive. See you soon!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for brunch, great for lunch, great for outdoor dining, hot spot, special occasion, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Fantastic service
    OpenTable Diner Since 2004VIP
    Dined on 10/9/2014
    I'm not the most critical diner, but rarely is the service so amazing and memorable. From the moment we walked in to El Centro I felt like a VIP just because of how attentive and friendly the staff was. The meal was great, drinks fantastic - they accommodated our request for a semi-private space. Couldn't ask for me, but really if I owned a restaurant I would try to hire away the current crew.
    Special Features:
    great for lunch, late-night find, neighborhood gem, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Wonderful
    Kelly
    Dined on 10/4/2014
    Our waitress was very kind, prompt and attune to what dishes we favored. Everything was even more delicious than it looked, which says a lot because the food was beautifully presented. I'd recommend el centro 100 times over.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for brunch, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Enjoyable, but not fine, dining
    otberburVIP
    Dined on 9/26/2014
    The 14th Street area has upscale Latin restaurants and tacquerias. El Centro DF falls somewhere in between. Our food was prepared capably but had no real flare. The tortilla chips were pedestrian, and guacamole of "medium" spiciness packed no discernible heat. My main dish -- a casserole of pork and what could be described as Mexican polenta -- was satisfying and extremely filling, but not especially memorable. The margaritas, by contrast, are excellent -- and quite strong. Service was pleasant. We were seated downstairs, which is less boisterous than the front room but not especially quiet. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the evening.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Terrible service
    OpenTable Diner Since 2013
    Dined on 9/22/2014
    Waitress was more concerned with chatting it up with the bartender than servicing our table. Gtown is much better. I will say the food was good.
    Special Features:
    vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Superlative Sipping and Supping!
    Portia
    Dined on 9/21/2014
    My new next-door neighbor tells me it's his favorite Mexican. A relative says "It's just tacos!" But I found the food superior in nutritional value and flavor. I am a diabetic; son and wife are vegetarian; we all found good choices, while our Phoenix daughter had lots to compare with El Centro's tacos, which she pronounced excellent. I found the salad with seared tuna just right for me: high protein, low calorie. Our server was a young woman who was very gracious, helpful and prompt. (I have only one criticism which cannot be helped due to the choices made by the decorator: the hard surfaces are very hard on someone like me who wears hearing aids.)
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great for Gluten Free
    minimuffin28
    Dined on 9/20/2014
    I brought my gluten free sister here while she was visiting DC. Almost everything on the menu is GF. We split the mahi tacos and guacamole. The tacos were delicious, however the guac was just so-so.
    Special Features:
    hot spot, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Stay away. Horrible service.
    2Foodie
    Dined on 9/20/2014
    Host scrambled to find us a table. she finally found one and asked us to follow her and took us down to their basement seating area. No problem, we sit down and then she returns to tell us that we can't sit there and takes us back up to the front entrance. We waited a few more minutes, then we finally get seated. When the server comes to get our order she was rude and hurried us through our meal and at first served us someone else's order, then brought ours out. While going to the bathroom the security guard told my friend to wait while he let an employee who was off work go ahead of her. We talked to the manager and he was just as rude and was unwilling to help and told us that employees have priority over customers. Never going back!!!
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • it was just okay
    heartmyminpins
    Dined on 9/18/2014
    We loved the place... it was really cool inside, but the service needed help. We were there on our honeymoon and they told us they would give us a wonderful spot in the restaurant..which meant in a corner. After they sat us our waiter disappeared and didn't show back up for a long time. Really killed our vibe, however the food was good. Since we were on our honeymoon and our days were limited..in all i think i would have picked another place to eat however for locals i can see it being a great place.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Great Food and Service EVERY time!
    Jlowe88VIP
    Dined on 9/18/2014
    El Centro has some of the freshest and most consistent Mexican food in DC. From the carnitas tacos to the BBQ chicken salad, which is full of texture and topped with a huge portion of grilled-to-perfection chicken breast, they can do no wrong in my book. Weekday lunch was super quiet and relaxing. Food was served up fast and fresh. Service was excellent and don't forget to try the fresh limeade. I have been for brunch and another time for lunch and I will be back many more times...
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for lunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great place as always
    satxspVIP
    Dined on 9/15/2014
    Great place, as always. First time sitting upstairs...I will used to sitting downstairs. Much more engeretic, which was not a problem on a Monday night. Great and friendly staff.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Let staff pick your food
    OpenTable Diner Since 2010
    Dined on 9/7/2014
    Our waitress was excellent! It was unlimited food selections for the bottomless, one-price brunch, so we just let her pick for us, and her choices were spot-on. Couldn't have been more satisfied for the money. She was also very generous with mimosa refills. Best brunch we have had in the neighborhood.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Awesome Brunch Deal
    DCfoodie
    Dined on 9/7/2014
    El Centro has an awesome $35 all you can eat and drink brunch deal - I just kept ordering things off the menu and they just kept bringing them. Honestly, I would have been fairly disappointed in the flavor and portions if I was paying the "official" menu prices, but it was fantastic when you could just order a few more plates of what ever I liked.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, great for outdoor dining
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • excellent brunch
    Lori
    Dined on 9/7/2014
    El Centro did not disappoint for brunch. Our server never allowed our mimosas to get completely empty. The food was well-paced. The barbacoa, carnitas, and lengua tacos are amazing, be sure to try them.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for brunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • El Centro an Uneven Experience
    NickVIP
    Dined on 9/6/2014
    Generally speaking, the food is ok... sometimes a bit better than ok. I personally like the lower level. The main level is too chaotic and much too noisy -- painful. The biggest issue I have with El Centro is the wait staff. The last 5-6 times I have been there, the wait staff is clearly the weak link. Inexperienced, inattentive or hyper-attentive. Mangement here needs to work on retaining good people. One gets the sense that waiters only work at El Centro for a week or two before moving on.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Great Brunch!
    KKCincy
    Dined on 9/1/2014
    It's pretty hard not to be happy about unlimited food and drinks. Our server was great and helped us pick good items from the menu. The aqua fresco drinks were delicious.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, great for brunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Fantastic bottomless brunch!
    mimosasallday
    Dined on 8/31/2014
    I went to brunch with a large group (9 people) and it was amazing. The food (small plates) is fantastic, and there is no lack of food at all. Everything from the chips and guac to various tacos and even the fruit salad was so good. The drinks are a great deal, with a variety of available drinks (margaritas, punch, mimosas, and bloody Marias) and you aren't limited to one kind. Our waiter Doug was one of the best waiters I've ever had, anywhere. He was great about making sure we had enough food - and more importantly, enough drinks. He wasn't fazed by our large group and was very helpful.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for brunch, great for outdoor dining, late-night find
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Great Mexican in DC
    iowabearVIP
    Dined on 8/30/2014
    Excellent food - the basement can get a little warm if it is crowded.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, neighborhood gem, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Excellent Brunch
    OpenTable Diner Since 2005
    Dined on 8/30/2014
    Excellent Service, fun atmosphere and plenty of food and alcohol selections for everyone. Best $35 bottomless brunch. Great time to hang-out with friends and enjoy a Saturday afternoon.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, great for brunch, hot spot, neighborhood gem, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Not good and not fun
    Italianfoodie
    Dined on 8/26/2014
    The noise level was unbearable. We went on a Tuesday night.We had a high table with VERY uncomfortable stools. This might be their way to increase table turnover! The food was OK, nothing special, not genuine Mexican food. The waiter kept interrupting us all the time. He kept coming to our table to say "This looks beautiful" (our food). We did not need a cheerleader. We wanted food that tasted good. Nothing special about this restaurant if one has experienced good dining in a place where you can actually talk to the people you are dining with. The restaurant is full because it's in a hot neighborhood where a lot of young people in their 20s and 30s go out. By the way, I am not 90 years old, I am very fit and I dine out a lot in Washington.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Terrific service
    OpenTable Diner Since 2010VIP
    Dined on 8/25/2014
    Amazing service last night at El Centro. Highly recommend to everyone. Get the spicy mango margarita or the red and stormy cocktail.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, special occasion, neighborhood gem, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2011
    Dined on 8/17/2014
    Food and margaritas were great but the service was terrible. This was our second time at this restaurant and if it was our first impression, we would never go back. The waiter was incompetent and actually argued with us about the bill (which he ran incorrectly 4 times). When we asked for a manager he kept arguing and tried to resolve the bill on his own. When he returned to the table and the the bill was still incorrect we had to ask for the manager again. The manager didn't seem interested and gave us a standard speech. This review would have been very different if we had a different server.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Great First Visit!
    PescaFoodie
    Dined on 8/17/2014
    Dinner during last night of Summer Restaurant Week and were not disappointed! Everything on the menu appears to be made in house, down to the condiments (salsa, guac, even the sour cream!). Impressive tequila list. House-infused tequila margaritas are also available--try the pinapple serrano marg if you're a fellow spice lover! Shrimp "ceviche" was delicious and refreshing, with just the right amount of spice/heat, although not truly ceviche (shrimp were cooked, and dish was very brothy--but broth was wonderful addition to chips and salsa!). The cactus tacos were a great foodie find, and beef fajitas were also on point. Both entrees were served with bowls of homemade refried black beans and Spanish rice w/peas. Will def return!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, romantic, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Great!
    Becca
    Dined on 8/16/2014
    I love El Centro and I have been there a couple times now. I also really appreciated how I made a mistake when ordering and didn't notice how I had ordered something that I couldn't eat due to a food allergy. The waitress was very gracious and I really felt like customers matter at El Centro.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Great food!
    Piglet
    Dined on 8/15/2014
    The food was outstanding. We were seated in the basement, which was not as noisy and smoky as the first floor. The decor was very interesting--the walls are decorated with Aztec masks bathed in red light. The service was friendly and prompt. The noise level was too high for our taste--we are all over 50. I will definitely be back.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Love It!
    Newfoodie
    Dined on 8/13/2014
    My sister and I enjoyed our dinner here. The waiters and waitresses were very kind and the service was fast. The food was amazing! I will definitely return.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, good for groups, special occasion, neighborhood gem, hot spot, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Amazing!
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 8/11/2014
    The restaurant was hosting a special menu for "restaurant week" and it was fantastic. The meal included a drink, appetizer, main course, and a dessert for a great price. Not only was it delicious, but was plenty of food as well. Definitely recommend to anyone...
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.