Cheap eats, cheap drinks

Las Placitas
517 8th Ave. SE
Washington, D.C. 20003
(202) 543-3700
(off of the orange and blue lines, Eastern Market Metro)

Getting off the Eastern Market Metro at night, you might wonder what exactly you are getting yourself into. The neighborhood seems pretty tough and isn’t a good place to walk around alone after the sun sets, but the two blocks you have to walk, hopefully in a large group, to Las Placitas are well worth it for great Mexican food and pitchers of sangria. After you exit the mean streets of Southeast, D.C., enter the loud and welcoming dining room. Every table is usually filled with large groups sharing big pitchers of sangria, yet there is rarely a wait.

Why exactly is Las Placitas worth the Metro ride and walk to the restaurant? That’s easy – good food at great prices. From appetizers to entrees to flan for dessert, you are getting good cheap eats.

But what’s a good Mexican dinner without a good Mexican beverage? I suggest spending the $20 dollars for a pitcher of sangria. It’s big enough to share with the whole table. Are there only a few of you? Get a half-pitcher. If sangria is a bit too risky, then just stick to a nice safe bottle of Corona.

After your thirst has been fully quenched, start off with an appetizer. The menu offers a fair variety of starters and soups, but the yucca con chicaron (the Mexican version of French fries) and the tamal de elote (a delicious sweet and smooth corn mush) are the best. While the corn tamale (as it is known to most non-Spanish speakers) is made with the traditional recipe, it’s missing one thing-the corn husk the corn tamale is traditionally wrapped in. Even without it, the dish is completely delectable and is served with the perfect complement of sour cream.

Another good choice is a pupusa. These are extremely fluffy tortillas filled with either pork and cheese or just cheese. While you will wonder how they made it, the pupusas will undoubtedly become a favorite. If you want to try these, make a meal with two pupusas and a tamal de elote.

For those with a much larger appetite, Las Placitas has a variety of tasty entrees. There are lists of fajitas, enchiladas and other Mexican dishes. The enchiladas come with a variety of fillings including chicken and cheese. They are topped with a hot red sauce that you may just need to request an extra side of. The fajitas are served to you steaming hot and ready for you to make for yourself, with your choice of chicken or beef. My suggestion? Choose the beef. The chicken has a strange, almost too-barbecued taste. Still not a believer? Get the fajita mixer that gives you the best of both worlds.

Other than the food, there is something else that will stand out during a visit to Las Placitas-the setting. The first hit to your senses is the bright surroundings. The wood paneling is accented with sombreros, paper balloons and pi?atas. Add that to the bright pitchers and multi-colored Christmas lights that line the walls, and Las Placitas can make anyone smile – no matter what mood they are in.

Now that you have your happy face on, you can sit back, relax and be loud? That’s right, there’s no need to hold back – Las Placitas is all about fun. The one thing that is missing is the after-work professional crowd, and it’s great. No suits, no ties, no networking. This is the place to cool off with friends. There is no need to impress, no haughtiness, no political debate. So go ahead, sit back and let off some steam. No one will tell you to keep it down. This is the perfect retreat from the high-strung D.C. life so many of us are caught up in.

Now that you’re surrounded by friends with full bellies, you can enjoy another pitcher of sangria or another bottle of Corona and cleanse your pallet with a dessert. The dessert menu is small with ice cream and chocolate mousse, but the real authentic treat is the flan. It’s not your ordinary

indulgence, but you’ll be won over by the smooth and sweet taste.

After a night of drinking, eating and having a good time with friends, you’ll leave fully satisfied. This isn’t just an all-night affair; this is an all-night affair that won’t empty your wallet. For an laid-back night out-no club clothes, not heels, no worries – head out to Las Placitas. Just stay tough for the Southeast streets.

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