Feasting on Bloody Marias and Brunch at El Centro

We had spent Saturday morning clearing out our closets of old clothes and shoes, packing up the car and making the run to Goodwill. What better way to reward ourselves than a casual bite off our usual circuit? Maybe Clarendon? Or closer to home on 14th Street?

Every time I walk by El Centro on 14th Street, the place is packed. As in, too crowded to venture into. A few months back, I braved it for happy hour with some girlfriends and discovered that while El Centro was always crowded, it was also huge. The restaurant was more than just the bar tables in the window, it went all the way back along an open kitchen. And there was a downstairs, too, lined with cozy tables.

Chips and accompaniments

Chips and accompaniments

So on this cold Saturday afternoon, we decided to give it a try. I had talked up the tacos and the size of the place to G, so I was hoping we wouldn’t be disappointed. When the hostess asked if we had a reservation, my heart started to sink … but then she offered the option of sitting at the bar.

First off, the bartender was cute and charming. He was also a good guide for us, starting us off with fresh guacamole, tangy salsa, fruit salad and shrimp ceviche (good, but a tad sweet for me), as accompaniments for fresh corn chips.

We watched the staff turn out tamales topped with fried egg, Mexico’s version of eggs Benedict topped with carnitas and poached eggs and plates of creamy potatoes, which looked delicious.

Mexican french toast with cinnamon whipped cream and caramel sauce

Mexican french toast with cinnamon whipped cream and caramel sauce

When we rolled out an hour and a half later, several Bloody Marias and Micheladas later and after grazing on the all you can eat brunch menu, well, we were more than satisfied.

So much for a quick bite to eat. We were more like full for the remainder of the weekend.

All this to say, we would definitely go to El Centro for brunch again. Although I’d probably skip breakfast next time. And maybe we’ll even brave the crowds at night?

In the meantime, I’ll be swapping out vodka for tequila next brunch. And then as the weather gets warmer, swapping out tequila for Mexican beer for a spicy, but fizzy afternoon refresher.

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