Among the first to open its doors? Mama Chuy, a charming restaurant near Howard University that’s serving traditional food hailing from Mexico’s Jalisco state. Opened just a couple of weeks ago, Mama Chuy is a family affair. It’s run by Dinora Orozco and her brother Joe Orozco (a one-time line cook from Potenza), who named the restaurant for their grandmother, who also provided the pair with inspiration and many of the recipes.
The prices may be the best part: Two tacos run around $4, while quesadillas are a steal at around $3. Happy hour is another bargain: Monday-Saturday, 4-7 p.m., margaritas and cuba libres are just $3.
Many of the tacos can be had as sopes, a crunchy cake of deep-fried masa topped with the taco filling and eaten with your hands. Laborious to make, they’re a treat in Mexico, Orozco says — and a rare treat on menus here, too.
The decor is modern with traditional touches, including tables inlaid with ceramic tiles imported from Jalisco and textured wallpaper that gives you a zen feeling.
Check out Mama Chuy on New Year’s Eve, when the restaurant hosts its first big event, a New Year’s “pre-game” dinner, with drink specials and all-you-can-eat tacos and a glass of sparkling sangria from 6-8 p.m. for $15 in advance, and $20 at the door. (RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the list.)
Says Orozco: “We’re Mexican, this is Mexican, we’re going to stay Mexican.”