Observed from Sept. 15-Oct. 15, Hispanic Heritage Month recognizes the history, culture, and accomplishments of folks of Hispanic heritage in the United States. Of course, a defining characteristic of that culture is its delicious cuisine.
Luckily, northern Virginia is the ideal place to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month given the diversity of its culinary scene—including Mexican, Peruvian, Salvadorean, Argentinian, Spanish, and Cuban options. If you’re looking to sample some of the best authentic Hispanic cuisines NoVa has to offer, consider dining at one of these 10 locally owned establishments.
Anita’s New Mexico Style Bar & Grill traces its humble origins back to a woman who relocated from Albuquerque to Virginia more than 40 years ago and found that the area was missing the type of food her family had been cooking in Nw Mexico for generations. Today, Anita’s has eight locations throughout northern Virginia.
“From day one Anita has always insisted that the chilis used in our recipes come exclusively from the mother land, and those of you who have enjoyed them before certainly know why,” the eatery’s website reads.
Traditional New Mexican dishes served at Anita’s include the Tamale Dinner, which consists of two handmade pork tamales smothered with red chili; and the Las Cruces, a tender boneless grilled chicken breast topped with green chili, salsa verde, and cheese.
Mi Rancho Authentic Mexican Food serves dishes that are inspired by tradition.
“We’re passionate about creating the perfect, handmade Mexican food specialties with the freshest ingredients,” the website reads. “From traditional burritos and enchiladas to fajitas Veracruz and sizzling molcajete, you’ll love our all-Mexican Food specialties!”
Be sure to take a moment to look at the traditional hand-painted artwork on the walls, which tells stories of countryside living and Latin American culture.
Senor Tequilas offers traditional flavors of Mexican cuisine prepared with fresh ingredients.
“Today, Senor Tequilas has maintained the long-held recipes and decor brought straight from Mexico—literally!” the restaurant’s website reads. “We pride ourselves in keeping the same authentic flavors while also adding a little fun with a bar menu of tequilas, margaritas & beers to complement the dishes.”
Give the Al Carbon a try. It comes with your choice of grilled steak, chicken, or carnitas and is served with pico de gallo, salsa de molcajete, and limes. Wash it all down with a Famous Jalapeña Margarita, which comes with house-infused jalapeño tequila, Cointreau, Grand Maier, fresh lime juice, orange juice, and fresh jalapeños.
La Campesina Restaurant offers both traditional Mexican and Salvadorean food.
“We take the freshest ingredients, cook them according to time honored family recipes and add a dash of inspiration to prepare a delicious dining experience with something for everyone!” the establishment’s website states.
Seafood lovers can’t go wrong with the Camarones con Calabaza, which comes with shrimp, zucchini, onions, and tomatoes that are sauteed in the grill’s homemade cream-and-garlic wine sauce. It’s served with cilantro lime rice, black beans, and salad.
Cubasi Bistro is the place to go for traditional Cuban food. Its menu is inspired by the owner’s wife, who migrated to the US from Cuba in 2010.
“Crafted from all of the freshest and most delicious ingredients, we prepare you with a culinary experience that will have you coming back for more,” the bistro’s website reads. “Whether you’re looking to try something new or want a taste of home, our Cuban food gives you the delectable taste sensations you desire.”
Give the Cubasi Famous Roast Pork a try. It comes with two sides, so consider the sweet plantains and fried yucca.
Location: Falls Church
Those looking to learn more about Peruvian cuisine should consider dining at Chilcano’s RestoBar.
“We are known for using a native ingredient from Peru,” the establishment states on its website. “The carefully-crafted Peruvian menu accentuates the unique exquisite flavors that have come to define Chilcano’s RestoBar. This one-of-a-kind and intimate experience will leave you with memories that last a lifetime.”
If you stop by for breakfast, order the Chilcano’s Breakfast, which includes chicken tamal, pork chicharron, fried slices of sweet potatoes, relleno, and salchicha huachana. Not enough for you? It’s served with zarsa criolla and bread.
SER is all about serving authentic Spanish cuisine in a casual and friendly setting.
“Consider us your foodie friends from Spain who have a professional kitchen, sharp cooking tools, and a comfortable house where you hang out any time of the day or night,” the restaurant said.
For your main dish, consider the vegan and gluten-free Calabacita Rellena. It includes roasted delicata squash, candied fall fruits, yogurt, and Monte Enebro cheese. While you wait for your meal, enjoy the Punta Umbría Gin Tonic cocktail, which consists of house-infused gin, cherry-clove bitters, rosemary, and Fever Tree tonic.
Location: Falls Church
Go to Victor’s Grill if you’re looking for a South American steakhouse dining experience.
“We are famous for our Chimichurri Sauce, a delicious steak sauce we make in-house from our own recipe,” the grill’s website reads. “Chimichurri is a mouthwatering garlic-based sauce that perfectly enhances the flavor of meat or can even be used as a spread on bread.”
Steak lovers should order the Bife Con Salsa Pimienta, a grilled tenderloin topped with black pepper sauce. Add a side of fried cassava to your meal if you’re a fan of fries in the states.
Empanadas De Mendoza was started in 2013 when owner Gabi Steelman began sharing her Argentinean culture at a local farmers market. For Gabi, empanadas have always meant family, friends, and fun—going back to her hometown of Mendoza, Argentina.
You can’t go wrong with the three empanadas and a side menu. Empanada options include traditional beef, spicy beef, pineapple chicken, three cheese, spinach ricotta, honey barbeque pork, ham and cheese, and humita. For your side, pick an order of fries with chimichurri sauce.
If you’re looking for Mexican cuisine with a twist, then Buena Vida is the place for you.
“Situated in the vibrant Clarendon district, our Mexican restaurant brings the rich tapestry of Mexican cuisine to the forefront, crafting unforgettable dining experiences,” the website reads. “With a commitment to authenticity and innovation, we invite you to immerse yourself in the enticing flavors of Mexican cuisine in Arlington, VA.”
Consider ordering the Buena Vida Burger. The 8-ounce house-made short rib seasoned beef comes layered with Morita mayo, bacon jam, sharp cheddar cheese, fresh watercress, and tomato and is served with a side of golden hand-cut fries.
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