The place is run by a brother and sister team, Joe and Din, who are from Chicago but whose family is from Guadalajara, Mexico. Both came out to chat with us and both were really nice. Joe is the chef, and some of the menu is based on their grandmother, Mama Chuy, but with Joe's flourishes.
The food was traditional, inexpensive, and really well done. There are some appetizers and small plates, then a number of tacos, which come in pairs. For antojitos (appetizers) we tried the papitas fritas, French fries which came with Mexican cheese and lime and were crispy and good. The guacamole was also really well done, and came with homemade fried tortilla chips. Jose brought us a couple other things to try (we were the first people there), like a vegetarian quesadilla made with mushrooms and a cold asparagus salad. All well done.
Then came the tacos, the main course. They come in pairs, and you can choose either tacos, sopes, which are basically a flat, fried tortilla, or a plato (platter) with rice, beans and guacamole. The first thing we all noticed were the tortillas, which were really nice. One person in our party said they were better than Taqueria Distrito Federal's. The fillings were good too: we had al pastor (roasted pork), Milanesa, which is breaded beef, carne asada sopes, and vegetarian, which is made with three kinds of mushrooms. They were all delicious. My vegetarian friend loved the veggie tacos and the other vegetarian options, and we debated which was best, the sopes or tacos. They're small, but they're also inexpensive, $3-$4 for 2, or about $11 for the platter (which we didn't try) so you should get a bunch. There's also birria tacos, which is a traditional beef stew from Guadalajara, but they didn't have it yet. Next time.
|One of the sopes|
As for the restaurant itself, it's pretty cozy, with about 6 seats on the first floor about 20 upstairs, plus a patio area in the front. There's some nice, tasteful decor. As for the patio, we all agreed it would be a great place to go after hitting the Banneker pool: sitting on the patio, having a couple tacos and some margaritas. It was pretty cold inside during our visit, Din and Joe explained that their new boiler broke and they had been working on it all day. They expect it to be fixed soon.
The menu is smallish for now, but Din said they're planning on adding more as time goes on. She mentioned tortas, a type of sandwich, and that they might try brunch once a month or so to gauge interest -- traditional Mexican fare like chilaquiles, huevos rancheros, and so on. They'll also have carry-out and delivery.
It's hard not to be too laudatory for this place -- it was really good. I'll be back soon, highly recommended.
Mama Chuy DC is at 2620 Georgia Ave NW. They're open for lunch and dinner Monday-Saturday. Here's their Twitter and blog.