DC Corazon Serves Red Taupe In Festive Fonda-Style Dining Room
At her newly opened restaurant between Columbia Heights and Petworth, longtime DC resident Josefina Darui wants to show her love for her hometown of Mexico City and what she considers her adopted hometown. So she named the place DC Corazon, which means ‘heart’ in Spanish, and ordered a menu similar to what she would find in fondas, mom-and-pop shops renowned for their hearty breakfasts and other meals. House.
For lunch and dinner, DC Corazon serves table guacamole, enchiladas, tostadas, quesadillas, tacos and mole coated main courses that take a lot of patience to prepare. Seasonal fruits and vegetables are found in the kitchen and in cocktails.
“We want to be the fonda in the corner where having a meal can be affordable, [with] good food, good service in an authentic and artistic Mexican atmosphere, ”says Darui. “I want people to feel happy.”
Unlike many restaurants that place a time limit on turning more tables during the pandemic, Darui is encouraging customers to sit and stay as long as they want. Bringing a check to customers before they ask for it would be “an offensive thing” in Mexico, she said. DC Corazon opens for indoor or outdoor dining, pick up and delivery 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, closing at 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday (3903-3905 14th Street NW).
Chef Antonio Pastora, originally from the Acapulco region on the Pacific coast of southern Mexico, brings a contemporary twist to recipes that date back to a pre-Hispanic era. Darui says his red mole helped seal the deal for his work. He makes the sauce once a week, simmering dried peppers, nuts and chocolate for hours. Mole then covers main dishes like salmon, chicken or a surf-and-turf of filet mignon and seared shrimp.
“Making a mole takes a lot of patience because every step is crucial to getting it right – not too thick, not too watery, just perfect. It’s a long process, ”says Darui, adding that“ all of our dishes take a bit of time. “
Appetizers include elote, esquites and queso fundido served like a hot pan of bubbling Chihuahua cheese. Another option is huaraches, an oblong-shaped masa paste topped with protein like chorizo and beef or chicken tinga. Balanced tacos on blue corn tortillas are filled with lengua (slow braised beef tongue) or fried fish with citrus jicama coleslaw and chipotle aioli. Vegetarians can order Eightlacoche (corn mushroom) tacos; nopales (cactus) and rajas (roasted peppers) marinated in escabeche style with queso fresco; or hibiscus flowers sautéed in an achiote paste. Aside from a “specialties” section, almost all of the items on the menu cost $ 10 or less.
“We are not a taqueria – and neither are we a Rosa Mexicano,” says Darui. “We are basically for the ordinary person. I want people to understand at $ 6.99 you can have a great meal. “
This is the opening price for lunch specialties such as rolled and fried dorado taquitos, stuffed with chicken or choripapa (chorizo and potatoes), and a “big” gordita: a bag of blue corn filled a choice of chorizo or nopalez, with red or green salsa. Margaritas are $ 6 during happy hour.
A bar manager at a New York Indian restaurant consulted on a drink menu that plays with tamarind, turmeric infusions, and crushed ginger, as well as fresh juices and itchy agave syrups.
Table decorations dressed in rainbow-colored tablecloths and decorative pink bows wrapped around royal blue chairs play on floral and stone plates.
She also went against her psychologist sister’s advice on how using too much color could distract from food. Her favorite color, blue, surrounds the bar. A wooden wine rack that she herself remodeled houses hard-to-find bottles from XA and Chateau Domecq cellars in Valle de Guadalupe.
“When you sit there it feels like you’re in a restaurant, but when you pay it doesn’t make a big scratch on your wallet,” she says. “[But] it doesn’t mean you have to give them something simple, ugly, or cheap. “
A light splash splashed along the dining room wall depicts a street near the owner’s childhood home, joined by metal hearts and knick-knacks she’s collected from family and friends over the years. years. The restaurant’s namesake even appears on plates with heart-shaped portions of rice, sides, a tres leches cake, and a mini mezcal infused flan.
The salads are mixtures of romaine, tomatoes, onions, corn, black beans and cilantro with a balsamic vinaigrette or a cilantro and lime vinaigrette, topped with grilled chicken, steak or salmon, accompanied by a cup of soup ($ 12.99 for lunch).
“When customers leave, they don’t feel heavy,” says Darui. “Everyone thinks Mexican food is fatty and fatty. Everything is cooked and prepared by us, right down to the condiments.
Darui’s lease began in January 2020, two months before the pandemic resulted in a restaurant ban. This sparked a year of delays in equipment, construction and permits. Because she was not yet open, she said, she was not qualified for PPP loans.
“When I started creating the design it wasn’t with a lot of money – it all started with a heart,” she says, referring to a red heart-shaped blown glass ornament in the bedroom. of her child who is now hanging near the bar. She scratched off working names like “Cilantro” or “Josie’s House” in favor of one that honors a city that is now her home longer than it lived in Mexico. Darui met her husband while on vacation in the district and has been here for almost three decades.
“Over the years, I realized this was my country,” she says.