Tex-Mex Spot La Tejana’s Owner Shares Her Favorite D.C. Eats
May 5, 2023 @ 10:00am
Ana-Maria Jaramillo of hit breakfast taco spot La Tejana lets us in on how she finds balance, as well as where she eats and drinks when not working her different ventures around D.C.
Ana-Maria Jaramillo is what some people in the hospitality industry call a “day walker.” In addition to running La Tejana — the wildly popular Tex-Mex spot slinging mouthwatering breakfast tacos, which she opened last year with her husband chef Gus May — Jaramillo has not one, but two day jobs.
With Jaramillo at the helm as palate and creative director, La Tejana has quickly become one of Mount Pleasant’s hottest new restaurants, serving up authentic food inspired by her upbringing in McAllen, Texas. And La Tejana isn’t resting on its early success, either: It’s already expanding into a brand-new second floor and adding a brunch menu and full-service bar.
When she’s not making the taco world go round, Jaramillo (who holds a doctorate in speech-language pathology from Northwestern University) sees patients and supervises clinical staff at Voz Speech Therapy, the only fully bilingual speech pathology practice in the city, which she founded in 2021. And if that’s not enough, you can also find her at George Washington University, teaching an undergraduate course called Multicultural Issues in Human Connection. Jaramillo says she’s able to do it all because she gets plenty of sleep — nine hours a night! — and lots of exercise, too. (What? How?)
“I say no to a lot of things,” Jaramillo says. “I used to be the ‘yes girl,’ and then I burned out and I had to go to therapy for a long time and still go to therapy. I’m learning how to say no to things that don’t really bring me passion.”
Reflecting on her ongoing quest for balance and sustainability, Jaramillo says the things she’s currently saying yes to — teaching, her speech therapy practice, La Tejana — all share one thing in common: a sense of community.
“It’s all about humanizing these interactions with people around me, making sure that I see them and they see me. That’s really the best part of life, building community. That’s the only way forward.”
When she’s not enjoying her bean-and-cheese breakfast tacos with habanero at La Tejana, she says most of her salary goes toward eating out, often supporting friends’ restaurants. We asked Jaramillo for a few of her favorite spots to eat and drink — and maybe even to find some community, too.
Before a Shift
My number one, Bagels Etc. — I’m there at least once a week, if not twice a week. I get bacon, egg and cheese on a jalapeño-cheddar bagel, add avocado, with a side of hot sauce. It’s so fire. And then I get my coffee at Colada Shop. I get the cafe con leche, iced, Miami-style. I really love their coffee because we use the same local roaster, Lost Sock Roaster. Lost Sock is my favorite coffee in the city and Colada Shop executes their drinks very well.
After a Shift
After a shift, you can definitely find me at Menya Hosaki — the best bowl of ramen in the city by far — ordering the chicken karaage to start, usually hand-delivered by chef Eric [Yoo], and I get a bowl of the classic tonkotsu. The second place you can find me at is Thip Khao, a Laotian restaurant owned and operated by chef Bobby [Pradachith], eating the sticky rice. I’m definitely there once a week as well.
The Rare Night Off
For a late-night cocktail or nightcap, I have to shout out my neighbors O.K.P.B., the Mount Pleasant speakeasy. When I’m there, David [Strauss] or Dylan [Zher] will usually make me a tequila-based drink, Maid in Mexico. And my favorite martini in the entire city is The Kid at Tail Up Goat. I will often come sit at the bar and order this martini, made with an onion brine, and some small bites.
Follow Jaramillo’s many ventures at ana-maria-jaramillo.com, and on Instagram @anamariaslpd and @latejanadc.
Bagels Etc.: 2122 P St. NW, DC
Colada Shop: Multiple locations; coladashop.com // @coladashop
Lost Sock Roasters: 6833 4th St. NW, DC; lostsockroasters.com // @lostsockroasters
Menya Hosaki: 845 Upshur St. NW, DC; menyahosakidc.com // @menyahosaki
O.K.P.B: 3165 Mt. Pleasant St. NW, DC; okpbdc.com // @okpbdc
Tail Up Goat: 1827 Adams Mill Rd. NW, DC; tailupgoat.com // @tailupgoat
Thip Khao: 3462 14th St. NW, DC; thipkhao.com // @thipkhaodc
Want to know more about the best stalwart and latest food hotspots? Join the District Fray community for exclusive access to neighborhood guides and recommendations. Become a member and support local journalism today.