The Hill Is Home — The Ultimate Source for News & Events Around Washington, DC's Capitol Hill Neighborhood
The Hill Is Home

The Ultimate Source for News & Events Around Washington, DC's Capitol Hill Neighborhood


Tacos I Have Known and Loved: Chupacabra Taqueria

September 26th, 2014 by Maria Helena Carey · Capitol Hill

Chupacabra Taqueria, at the corner of 9th and H Streets NE. Photo by María Helena Carey

Chupacabra Taqueria, at the corner of 9th and H Streets NE. Photo by María Helena Carey

I begin my paean to the humble and beautiful taco with a place which hasn’t been open for such a long time, but which captivated my tastebuds since it used to be but a wee baby taco truck. Chupacabra Taqueria, 822 H Street NE (entrance is on 9th Street NE) is my first stop, because it was one of my latest stops. Happiness is unwrapping a hot, fist-sized parcel of aluminum foil and biting into a delicious pork taco while you watch your kid play soccer.

Back when I wrote up my First Bite column, a concerned reader chimed in with his disappointment about Chupacabra’s tortillas. (N.B.: Chupacabra serves its tacos in corn tortillas only.) Since that comment, I have had a few visits where the corn tortillas have not lived up to my standards been disappointing. Clarification regarding “my standards”: the tortillas were tough and dry and they were hard to bite into, but I still ate the taco because I will eat anything that calls itself a taco– even if you add the Choco- prefix. This is why I am not a sylph. (Incidentally, if you want to have a laugh and also know where to find Choco Tacos at the Rayburn House building, you need to read this.) However,my most recent visits have yielded consistently good tortillas– the kind that stay firm until that tricky last bite rends them, and you end up with a streak of pineapple-laced pork on your chin.

A taco al pastor and a pescado de Jamaica, in a cheerful red basket. Photo by María Helena Carey

A taco al pastor and a pescado de Jamaica, in a cheerful red basket. Photo by María Helena Carey

Chupacabra’s tacos cover a wide range of fillings –from a marinated tilapia type called Pescado de Jamaica to two kinds of pork, shredded beef and chicken. All tacos come in corn tortillas and wrapped inside aluminum foil to keep them fresh and warm –unless you order to consume directly, in which case you will be served in red plastic baskets.

I present to you my Taco Rubric.  Several aspects of the taco-eating experience, so that you can get a better idea of what to expect.

Why this taco is good: fresh fillings and clean presentation. What you order is what you get: there are no culinary novelties, just a straightforward taco, served in two corn tortillas.

What could be better about this taco: Sometimes the tortillas are not at their freshest, which means they are tough and dry. The tortillas are not made in-house, which can contribute to the problem. Sometimes the fish taco is also a little dry. There is no grilled fish option.

Corn or flour tortilla: Corn only

Why you should give it a try: The price point ($3.25 per taco) means that you can have a lot of variety for less than $10. The fillings are good and the variety is among the best. Other side dishes, many of which are vegetarian, gluten-free and even vegan, make this a really friendly place for everyone.

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To Do

September 25th, 2014 by Jen DeMayo · Capitol Hill

Are you ready for the weekend? Why did I even ask that?

Laura Tsaggaris record a live album at the Atlas this weekend.

Laura Tsaggaris records a live album at the Atlas this weekend.

Tonight is the weekly bluegrass night at The Argonaut. Hollertown will perform on the upstairs stage from 8pm to 11pm.

Friday night at the Atlas singer-songwriter Laura Tsaggaris  will perform and record what will become an album called Live at the Atlas. The focus is acoustic, and it will feature various new arrangements of 15+ songs from her previous full-length albums “Proof”, “Keep Talking”, and “EVERYMAN”.  The event will be produced by Grammy nominee Jamie Candiloro.  Tickets are more information are available here.

Saturday is the Barracks Row Festival. From 11am to 5pm 8th Street SE will host food ven

dors, performers and community organizations to celebrate our corner of DC. Not quite the super-fest that H Street has become but I’m sure after facing those crowds last weekend the more low-key event will be welcome. And H Street did not have ice carving with actual chain saw so there’s that. For a full list of performances check out the schedule here.

Save your energy and try to fit in a disco nap because Saturday night is Art All Night DC: Nuit Blanche. Inspired by  similar arts events in Europe, the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities presents an all-night arts party. This year the festival expands to H Street NE with events happening at a variety of spaces on the corridor including the soon to open Ben’s Chili Bowl and the Starburst Plaza intersection at Benning, H and Florida as well as usual venues such as the Atlas and Gallery O/H. A full list of events can be found here.

Sunday, close out the weekend with a free outdoor concert on  the lawn of the Hill Center. San Francisco’s  Front Country performs as part of the ongoing American Roots Music series. The concert begins at 4pm. Learn more about the band here.

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Bluegrass at Penn Exxon, this Saturday 9/27!

September 24th, 2014 by Maria Helena Carey · New Hill East

File this one under, “Things that make Capitol Hill even more awesome:” This Saturday, September 27, you can catch a live Bluegrass performance by Stefan Custodi and The Knucklebusters at Penn Exxon, 1201 Pennsylvania Avenue SE, from 2-6 pm. You can catch them on your way to, or coming back from, Barracks Row festival!

In addition to selling gas and helping you out with your car-maintenance needs, Mo and the rest of the crew at Penn Exxon are patrons of the arts as well. Long-time customer and friend of the station, Stefan Custodi (guitar), started to hang out at Penn Exxon because they do “honest excellent work on my car.” Stefan mentioned the idea of performing live music at the station to Penn Exxon owner Mo Hajjaj. Why not hang out, have a great party with musician friends, and enjoy a beautiful fall afternoon? Stefan recruited musician friends Danny Booth (bass), Mike Munford (banjo), Tom Mindte (mandolin) and Tom Lyons (fiddle), who have won accolades for their performances. They all play for different bands, such as Dirty Kitchen and Only Lonesome –which plays at The Argonaut the second Thursday of every month.

There will be beer and barbecue on Saturday, in addition to the music; but most importantly, there will be a lot of friends jamming together and having a great time. Join the fun!

Where: Penn Exxon, 1201 Pennsylvania Avenue SE

What: Bluegrass music!

When: This Saturday, September 27, 2-6 pm

Why: Because party!


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Hill’s Eye View: ‘Never Know What You’ll Find

September 24th, 2014 by Kate McFadden · Capitol Hill

by Mike Licht on Flickr

by Mike Licht on Flickr

As we switch out our summer togs for the warm clothes of fall and winter one tends to get the itch to toss a few things and free up a little space. In these houses, a little space is all there is and it goes a long way. The detritus that hits the sidewalks is an odd mix, yet a 50+ year old set of golf clubs is a surprising treat. Thanks for the great photo Mike Licht and for adding it to the THIH Flickr group. 

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Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month With a Taco

September 23rd, 2014 by Maria Helena Carey · Capitol Hill

Fish tacos at a Santa Barbara restaurant, consumed by the author. Photo by María Helena Carey

Fish tacos at a Santa Barbara restaurant, consumed by the author. Photo by María Helena Carey

When I moved to the Hill from the West Coast, one of the things that struck me was the dearth of Mexican food. I was pointed to a few places that were adequate, but the flavor was just not the same. I had been spoiled in California, with handmade tortillas made by first- and second-generation people from south of the Border, who can look at corn and nixtamalize it into pliable, soft perfection.

Of course, things have changed here in DC. For starters, food no longer has to taste like an ashtray, a welcome piece of legislation that hails from 2006. DC’s food and cocktail scene is not just “happening” –to abuse that poor gerund some more. It’s thriving and taking strong root: District residents are cultivating discerning palates, and the explosion of new restaurants is proof-positive of this development. Within this revolution, Mexican and Mexican-inspired food in the District — especially on the Hill — is thriving. Gone are the days where Taco Bell and a couple of other choices were the only ways to get the sunny flavors of the great country of Mexico into your stomach. (Often by way of El Salvador, which could be geographically confusing.) [Read more →]

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