Every now and then I wish I could go back to my homestay days, where you got just a peek into another family’s life. One of the closest experiences I’ve had to that so far in DC is having dinner at Taqueria Juquilita in Columbia Heights, an establishment that I had heard whispers of but finally figured out how to visit!
Taqueria Juquilita is located in the tiny two-room apartment of a couple originally from Oaxaca, Mexico, and they open their home to gringos and mexicanos alike on Saturdays and Sundays from 7am-7pm. All of the dishes were very Mexican, from the classic tacos al pastor and tamales to the harder-to-find treats like quesadillas with flor de calabaza (squash blossoms), huitlacoche (a fungus that grows on corn), and pozole. Even the refreshments were authentic: juice made with hibiscus flowers and Coronas! Señora Rosa, the head of the operation, kept a close eye on us while making all of the tortillas by hand.
The taqueria only has seats for 10 people along 3 card tables set up in the middle of the room. Our group took up 6 places, and the remainder were filled by Mexican families and singles looking to get a reminder of their own cities or pueblos. I especially liked some of the touches that reminded me I was actually in someone’s home– the Virgen de Guadalupe looking down at us, pictures of the children in elementary school, and a very dramatic telenovela set in a hospital blarring on the T.V. And, not a word of English was spoken to us by our hosts– we all had to dust off the old Repaso Spanish textbooks! Luckily a few of the other Mexican patrons helped us to deduce the menu and to determine what the best items were to order.
I am almost reluctant to post about Taqueria Juquilita, because I am so happy to have found it! This little place is truly off the beaten path, and a fantastic glimpse into the lives of two people making a life in Washington, D.C.
To visit: Taqueria Juquilita, 202-265-0243.