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This past summer, I joined a food-writer colleague of mine for an adventurous Saturday tacos-and-tamales lunch in a nice Mexican lady’s crowded kitchen. To get to said kitchen, we had to wait for a key to be tossed down from a second-story window of an apartment building. I’ve been informally calling it the Oaxacan Taco Speakeasy, but it has a more official name, Taqueria Juquilita. Regardless of what you call it, the place is sort of a secret.

But this low-profile Mexican kitchen has been increasing its profile a bit, complete with a Facebook pagelook at all those happy diners!—and now some mainstream attention from Washingtonian magazine!

Todd Kliman, in this week’s dining chat, details the taqueria’s food and its setting, without disclosing the exact location in Columbia Heights. If you frequent the neighborhood, you might have figured out where it is. (One tip: Look for gringos waiting for a key to be tossed down to the sidewalk from an apartment complex.)

Says Kliman:

The inspiration is Oaxaca, birthplace of mole and the source of some of the most exciting regional cooking to be found in Mexico. The smell of frying onions and the promise of unearthing a genuine discovery made us over-order: three sets of tacos, two quesadillas (one filled with huitlacoche, another with pickled squash blossoms), a chicken tamal, a monstrous bowl of goat soup, and a tostada.

Kliman surveyed more of the menu—bilingual, naturally—than I did on my visit last year, but says the “meats in the tacos (lengua, al pastor, carnitas) tended to be dry but it’s not as if the same can’t be said of many commercial restaurants. (It’s also not as if this is an apartment kitchen masquerading as a full-service restaurant or anything.)”

That’s for sure.

Photo by Flickr user Sarah G via an Attribution 2.0 Generic Creative Commons license