With décor inspired by Mexican culture and heritage, and a menu prepared from scratch, Taqueria del Barrio is a must-visit spot for the rest of the year – especially when the weather heats up and tacos become a hefty part of your diet. We had a chance to talk to owner and chef Anna Bran-Leis about her new Petworth destination before its doors opened on March 30.
On Tap: What inspired you to open Taqueria del Barrio?
Anna Bran-Leis: Our passion for food and hospitality is what inspired us to open the restaurant. Our food truck, DC Empanadas, was one of the first big trucks in the DC scene, and thanks to our loyal fans, we’re growing our brand into a restaurant group. Our idea was to do an authentic Mexican taqueria in a fun, casual atmosphere, but with a slightly more polished touch to everything we do.
OT: What drew you to Petworth in particular?
ABL: When the time was right to start looking at restaurant spaces, our good friend Jamie Leeds (JL Restaurant Group) suggested the space next door to Hank’s Cocktail Bar on Upshur Street in Petworth. It’s such a great block to be on – our neighbors Timber Pizza Co, Himitsu and Petworth Citizen are all such great places, so it’s an honor to be in such good company!
OT: How would you describe the ambiance and decor? Whose idea was it to pursue a Dia de Los Muertos theme?
ABL: The decor is inspired by many aspects of Mexican culture and heritage, reflected in the Aztec symbols in our logo, the lotería murals and the large Virgen de Guadalupe on our walls. Our general manger Mikey Torres, whose family is half Mexican, created a Dia de Los Muertos ofrenda above the bar, dedicated to some of our favorite deceased musicians and artists. We wanted the space to be colorful, but with a modern sophistication. We used lots of natural elements like reclaimed wood, rope, steel and concrete to create a contemporary but festive ambiance.
OT: Do you have a favorite cocktail on the menu?
ABL: Our favorite is our signature cocktail, the Margarita Del Barrio, which is made from Silencio mezcal, caramelized pineapple and house-made habañero-turmeric syrup.
OT: What aspect of opening Taqueria del Barrio is most exciting to you?
ABL: The most exciting aspect of opening is being a part of the vibrant Petworth community. Every day the locals tell us how excited they are for us to open, and our pop-up was a sold out success thanks to the families and residents of the neighborhood. Del Barrio translates to “of the neighborhood,” so being your favorite neighborhood spot is our top priority!
Taqueria del Barrio: 821 Upshur St. NW, DC; 202-723-0200; www.taqueriadelbarrio.com