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Dupont Italian Kitchen owners and brothers Tony and Michael Askarinam are forgoing tortellini for tacos at their new Tex-Mex restaurant Diego, which opens today at the corner of the 14th and V streets NW.

The food might taste a little familiar. The chefs are alums of Guapo’s and Lauriol Plaza. The plan is to stick to the basics with the usual Tex-Mex fare of chile con queso, enchiladas, steaks, fajitas, and tacos. The cooking will be done in vegetable oil, nothing animal-based, so vegetarians are welcome. General manager Said Haddad describes the cuisine as “poor people food that I don’t want to reinvent and make fancy.” A typical meal should cost $10 to $20.

But Michael Askarinam says Diego will have unique daily specials, and what sets the restaurant apart might be its focus on mole. “I don’t think anybody makes good mole,” Askarinam says. “It is really not recognized in Washington, D.C.”

The bars will stock 60 different kinds of tequila and mezcal. As a tongue-in-cheek option, diners can order a 32-ounce Corona that comes in a Champagne bucket.

The Askarinam brothers own the Diego building, located at 2100 14 St. NW, which used to house the AM-PM Carry Out. Michael Askarinam, who went to school in Texas and loves Tex-Mex, decided to open a Tex-Mex restaurant named after the Mexican painter Diego Rivera.

Diego and his wife Frida Kahlo also inspired the decor. Recreations of paintings and murals from the two artists cover the walls. The look is clean and modern, using earthy, neutral tones, with two floors and patio seating that together can seat about 250 guests. Diego contains a bar on each floor, and the upstairs has its own entrance and can be rented out for private events.

Diego will open at 5 p.m. and close at 1 a.m. during the week, 2 p.m. on weekends. Lunch and brunch are also in the works.

Diego, 2100 14th St. NW; (202) 758-3376; diegodc.com

Photo by Ally Mutnick

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