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Serving the GW Community since 1904

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Wine bar on 2200 Penn opens doors
By Ella Mitchell, Contributing News Editor • June 14, 2024

Dish of the Week: Taqueria Xochi’s eggplant cemita

Lindsay Paulen | Staff Photographer
In addition to their eggplant cemita, which combines Oaxaca cheese, chipotle flavors and avocado for a satisfying meal, Taqueria Xochi also offers a chicken option.

Taqueria Xochi should be your next stop to try casual Mexican food.

Located at 924 U St. NW in the U Street corridor, Taqueria Xochi’s storefront is painted hot pink and complete with an electric light sign that spells out “Taqueria Xochi” in neon blue cursive letters. The taqueria, which is currently only offering take-out, is relatively new, launched in October by chef Teresa Padilla, who spent the last 16 years with José Andres’ restaurant company ThinkFoodGroup.

Taqueria Xochi offers a range of authentic Mexican dishes, including tacos like the nopales cactus tacos ($13) and Mexican chorizo tacos ($13), soups like Menudo ($9/$16), a common Mexican hangover meal, antojitos – Mexican street snacks – like chicharrons ($9) and tlayudas. For vegetarians, the store prepares individual mushroom, cactus and bean tacos and a veggie tlayuda.

But the star of the restaurant is its cemitas, which Padilla long dreamt of introducing to the D.C. food scene, according to the restaurant website. A cemita is a Mexican sandwich that originated in Puebla, Mexico, and is known for its sesame seed bun, Oaxaca cheese and schnitzel-style meats called milanesa.

I opted for the vegetarian cemita ($15) given my dietary habits, but the taqueria also offers beef and chicken cemitas. The vegetarian cemita is built with eggplant milanesa, Oaxaca cheese, chipotle seasoned beans, avocado, onions, tomatoes and mayo.

At this point in the pandemic, I’ve gotten used to unassuming takeout packaging, but I was pleasantly surprised by my meal’s preparation. The cemita came wrapped in brown paper and was tied together with a tweed bow and topped with a Taqueria Xochi sticker. 

A hearty sesame bun, slightly sweet and perfectly crispy, held the contents of the sandwich – veggies, fried eggplant and mayo. The bottom had crunchy grooves from the panini press. 

The cemita held a bold combination of flavors – I first tasted the mayo, then the chipotle seasoning, gooey Oaxaca cheese, followed by the refreshing sensation of juicy tomatoes, crisp onion and chunky avocado. The eggplant milanesa – thick pieces of eggplant breaded and pan-fried – held down the bottom bun and offered a crunch to the sandwich.

By the time I was three bites in, the sandwich began to fall apart, but I was OK with that – the best sandwiches are stuffed to capacity. For a vegetarian option, I was also left feeling pretty full.

Since I ordered on Uber Eats for delivery, the sandwich was $17.50 instead of the usual $15 price point. Either way, more than $12 for a sandwich seems a bit steep to me, but I recognize that the ingredients were exceptionally fresh and the taste was on point.  

Next time I visit, I’d like to try one of Taqueria Xochi’s special drink offerings like the mangonada ($7.50), a vibrant drink swirled with the mango flavors and chamoy – a fresh fruit dip – or the spicy margarita. 

Finish off your meal at this new spot with one of its authentic desserts like tres leches, chocoflan – a chocolate cake flan – or buñelos de viento – dough pastries topped with cinnamon and sugar.

If you’re craving authentic Mexican food but want to enjoy it on the comfort of your couch, check out Taqueria Xochi.

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