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If you want Ethiopian cooking, you head to 9th Street NW. If you want Vietnamese, you program your GPS for the Eden Center. But Mexican food? You might as well fly to San Antonio. At least that’s how desperate I sometimes feel when discussing Washington’s south-of-the-border offerings. Seriously, when one of the area’s favorite “Mexican” eateries is Lauriol Plaza, home of the bro polloi, you know you have a problem. Taqueria la Placita is the exception in this lackluster landscape. Owner Javier Martinez brooks no compromise with his Hyattsville taqueria. In true nose-to-tail fashion, La Placita leaves no part of the animal unused. You find gelatinous oreja (ear) tacos, salty cueritos (pig skins), and chewy cecine (salty beef, likely flank or skirt). Martinez also serves up one of the few authentic al pastor tacos in the area—two corn tortillas brimming with marinated pork roasted slowly on a spit, a technique borrowed from Lebanese immigrants who introduced Puebla natives to shawarma in the 1930s. Each taco comes sprinkled with diced onions and chopped cilantro, to which you can add your choice of radish slices, cucumber rounds, a squirt of lime, and one (or both) of the fiery salsas brought to your table. This, in short, is the true Mexican taco experience, right down to the blaring jukebox in the corner.

5020 Edmonston Road, Hyattsville (301) 277-4477