El Sol

Image: Pastoral care.

Last Updated: July 2023


The small shop on the south side of Shaw from which the Solis siblings built out their string of highly-respected and liked Mexican restaurants remains a great choice.  They have added a Mezcalero in the shiny La Cosecha food hall, and a bustling seafood-focused spot down the street at Mariscos 1133, but there remains the simple joy of walking into the slightly scruffy El Sol and getting a plate of great tacos.

The menu covers a lot more ground than just tacos.  A range of classic dishes, some crossovers from other Solis restaurants, pop from pictures from the multi-page menu. Most of them are inspired by street food like the tortas (sandwiches), huarches (flatbreads), and quesadillas.  There are also larger plates like enchiladas or grilled items.  We can’t say we’ve tested all the dishes, but we have yet to encounter a dud.  On the most recent trip it was chicken enchiladas with mole for one dish and shrimp and rice for the other.  The chicken enchilada with mole is simple in presentation but the sauce is deep in flavor, which comes from Chef Solis’s mother.  And tacos of course.  They also do great sides of rice and beans, something that can often go astray.  The guacamole is also worth getting as a starter if you looking to go big with your meal.

As Carman warned many years ago in the Post, they do not shy away from heat.  As we were getting up to leave, a couple of young men were doing there best to conquer the overflowing stone bowl of meat and vegetables of the molcajete.  Noting their bulging eyes we commiserated that it was a big dish, and they waved their hands over their mouths and shook their heads, “It’s so spicy.”  The drink list is not long or complicated.  The service can be spotty when busy, but the kitchen is sharp.

Other Guidance: There are some small inclines but the place is at street level with no steps. GF can do well, vegetarians ok, vegans less so.


Cuisine: Mexican/Central American
Neighborhood: Shaw
Address: 1226 36th St NW, Washington DC 20007
Website: http://www.elsol-dc.com/
Reservations: Walk-in

Other Critics/Voices:

Washington Post: Tim Carman has been a fan for a long time. “The best taqueria in Washington by a long shot.” 

Washingtonian: Best Taco list 2022. Cheap Eats list 2018.  2017 Readers Favorite for Mexican.