15 Sep 2010

Things We Take For Granted: Las Placitas

Photo by María Helena Carey

You, long-time resident of Capitol Hill, may or may not have ever eaten at Las Placitas.

If you have, you more than likely agree with me that it’s an awesome little restaurant.

(Unless you are joyless and heartless, in which case I cannot help you.  I kid, I kid.)

If you don’t, you may wonder why a place that may sound like a derivative of a Plaza or Lomita or Loma –places which coincidentally offer the same fare– deserves your attention and a special trip.  You may be right: after all, Salvadorean/Mexican food is a common offering at several Capitol Hill establishments, all done with varying degrees of success.  This is not a column about tearing down, so I will save some of my opinions on overcooked rice, greasy beans and tough meat for in-person discussions; this is a column about how Las Placitas is a place we take for granted.  I can sum up my feelings with three heartfelt words: oven-roasted pork.

The oven-roasted pork at Las Placitas, served with fried plantain, rice and black beans, is not just a typical Salvadorean dish –and therefore made with more tender-loving care by the Salvadorean crew at Las Placitas.  It is the kind of everyday good food that you crave when you’re down and need some pampering, and the kind you crave when you want to have a good time with family and friends.  There are few things in this life that are so filled with flavor and downright deliciousness, and that pork is one of them.  I will now stop talking about it, for fear of sounding sacrilegious; but if you really want to eat something good (and are not allergic to pork or otherwise unable/unwilling to eat it), look no further, friend. Incidentally, try to stick to the Salvadorean offerings in general: this is not to say that the Mexican food isn’t good, but that if you go to a family-owned Salvadorian restaurant, you should probably order what you know for sure they will prepare best.  Oh, and order margaritas: they are generous enough that one will change your mood drastically; but tame enough that if you feel a little feisty you can go ahead and have more than one and still eventually find your way home.

Anyway, Las Placitas also has the kind of service you crave when you want someone else to take care of the dishes, too.  Everyone there is friendly, polite and accommodating, and they don’t seem to bat an eyelash when large groups, many children, or large groups with many children darken their doorstep.  The whole waitstaff is incredibly nice, but Hilda has been wonderful to me and to my family in particular.  She is always two steps ahead of the game when you need more chips or a drink refresher, or if you just need a smile, really.  She will take care of you as if you are family, and that is something that not every restaurant can boast.

Many a sorrow has been drowned and a joy celebrated at this tiny place, which is nestled in between the lovely, flashy wood paneling of Matchbox and the understated dark scheme of the Fusion Grill; and every meal there has been as tasty as it’s been uncomplicated.  And although it’s easy to take for granted a place where you can show up in shorts and a tank top, I am genuinely grateful that such a wonderful and tasty place is just a short walk away from my house and open most days of the year.

If you decide to go, Las Placitas is located at 517 8th Street, SE.

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5 responses to “Things We Take For Granted: Las Placitas”

  1. crazycat says:

    They have the best fajitas in the area, hands down. Plus, the service is truly magnifico. We definitely don’t take them for granted.

  2. Rukasu says:

    They always always give me free margaritas, tequila, or beer. They have my allegiance.

  3. Matt McW says:

    They have some of the best chiken around! And somehow……I always end up with extra margaritas for free. LOVE me some Las Placitas!

  4. Heidi says:

    I LOVED Las Placitas when i lived in DC. It was where hubs and I first met, and where we took our family a couple nights before our wedding. Eduardo was our favorite – he always had extra margs on “la casa.” Definitely a place i miss now that i live up in CT – there is NO comparison anywhere up here.

  5. Mark says:

    My surprise DC United tailgate/40th bday party featured Las Placitas catering. It’s my all time favorite Barracks Row eatery. It’s a real restaurant, no pretention (althoughh I was concerned when they painted over the wood panelling). I still remember Las Plac II that was where Ugly Mug is now…and my car still smells like beans after that United tailgate.

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