Washington Post: Mission, The New Taqueria In Dupont, Is Full Of Surprises

Holley Simmons

Mission, a taqueria from the same ownership duo behind Mason Inn and George, opened March 25 in Dupont (1606 20th St. NW; 202-525-2010, missiondupont.com). Leading the kitchen is Rodrigo Albarran, who also owns R&R Tacos, the acclaimed taqueria in an Elkridge, Md., gas station.

At both spots, Albarran serves Mexico City-inspired tacos and sopes, though Mission boasts a fuller menu that includes hamburgers and ceviches. You know they’ll be delicious, but here are three things you probably didn’t know.

1. Chef Albarran used to work full time as a commercial pilot and is a certified flight instructor. He got furloughed while working at a cargo company and took it as a sign to pursue the opportunity to open R&R with his dad.

2.  On the second floor, you’ll find a retro-looking pay phone tucked in a photo booth. It’s not connected to a land line, but there is an electrical outlet in the booth. Co-owner Fritz Brogan calls the space the “cellphone charging station.”

3.  Mission claims to be the only restaurant in D.C. with Corona on-tap. Technically, it has Corona Light on draft, which is not unique: Agua 301 near Nats Park offers the same cerveza on tap.

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Washington City Paper: Mexican Restaurant Opening in Dupont

Jessica Sidman

No need to drive out to a gas station in Elkridge, Md., or a strip mall in Perry Hall, Md., to sample the sought-after tacos from R&R Taqueria. The taco shop’s chef and owner Rodrigo Albarran will oversee the menu at Dupont Circle’s new Mexican restaurant, Mission, which officially opens tomorrow.

“I was ready to make another move,” Albarran says. “I want to get my name out differently so people will know all the things I’m capable of doing.”

The restaurant is owned by Reed Landry and Fritz Brogan, who also operate George and Mason Inn in Georgetown. Landry was at a dinner party when a friend told him he had to try R&R. When he and Brogan finally did, “it was just too good to be true,” Brogan says. “And so we started talking to him.”

Like Albarran, the owners are also trying to expand their repertoire with Mission. “Reed and I have really wanted to move away from doing the heavy-volume alcohol and doing more food. We thought that Mexican food comes hand and hand because when people eat Mexican food they have some margaritas, they have some tequila,” Brogan says. The bar at Mission serves nearly 50 types of tequilas and mezcals, several margaritas and cocktails, and eight beers on tap, including a few Mexican varieties, Atlas Brew Works‘ District Commons, and Shiner.

The menu is much more extensive than R&R Taqueria, with dishes like cactus sopes, whole clam soup (“something we eat a lot on the coast of Veracruz,” Albarran says), mole chicken, and ribs with spicy adobe barbecue sauce. There are also several burgers including a chorizo burger and Chef’ Rod’s Caliente Burger with ghost peppers and pepper jack cheese. Taco lovers will find a mix of familiar and new. The carnitas recipe is the same at R&R, as are the tortillas, which come from a special producer in Atlanta whose identity Albarran wants to keep a secret. “These tortillas are as close to Mexico as you can get…It costs more but the taste is very unique.” Eventually, Albarran says he’ll add more adventurous tacos like tongue and tripe. 

The chef will continue to operate his R&R locations, spending time there in the mornings and then heading to Mission in the evenings. He’s also working on a cookbook of 25 meals he learned from his grandma growing up in Mexico, which he plans to self-publish sometime this summer.
The two-story building, formerly One Lounge, features a new arched skylight overhead the 23-seat bar, which is lined with electrical outlets so you can charge your phone. The space is decorated with longhorn horns, a fake fireplace, and reclaimed church pews. One of the quirkiest touches is the second floor phone booth. The phone itself doesn’t actually work, but there are outlets so you can charge up and make a call from your cell. If the weather ever warms up, you’ll  be able to eat your tacos on the 35-seat patio too.

“Nothing beats eating them at a gas station,” Brogan says. “But this is certainly nicer.”

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Washington Post: Highly Anticipated Mission Tacos Arrive in Dupont Next Week

Fritz Hahn

In a city full of buzzy taquerias, Mission may be home to the most anticipated tacos in Washington. The reason is chef Rodrigo Albarran of R&R Taqueria in Elkridge. His original spot – eight seats next to a Shell gas station – earned two stars from Tom Sietsema, a spot on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” and raves from seemingly every taco enthusiast within a two-hour drive.

This Dupont Circle restaurant and bar – formerly home to the bottle-service spot One Lounge – is operated by Reed Landry and Fritz Brogan, two of the guys behind Mason Inn and members-only Georgetown nightspot George. Neither place serves food, which is why Brogan and Landry have handed control of the kitchen to Albarran. His full menu goes beyond tacos to include cactus sopes, queso fundido with sausage, quarter chickens served in mole, a hominy-and-pork pozole and even a burger. Of course, it’s not just a burger: Chef Rod’s Caliente Burger features a pepper-flaked bun and cheese made with sweat-inducing ghost peppers.

The bar officially opens tonight, but the owners say they won’t have dinner service running until Tuesday. Food will be served beginning at 5 p.m. Brunch will begin in a few weeks; lunch service will start at an uncertain date, which will surely cause frustration among Dupont office workers. (Brogan tells me they want to wait until dinner service is running before launching lunch.)

Tequila is the focus at Mission, with more than 50 on the growing list. The house El Jimador is $8 per shot; many others are $9, which Brogan says is so people “don’t just order the same 2 or 3 brands.” Aficionados should scope the menu for such rarities as Gran Patron Burdeos Anejo ($120 per shot) and Milagro Unico ($100). For groups, any tequila can be ordered in a “quartito,” or four-shot beaker, which arrives at the table with four glasses.

Yes, there are frozen margaritas, in both regular and strawberry flavors. Strawberry is actually featured prominently on the cocktail menu: There’s a regular strawberry margarita and a “Sparkling Strawberry Champarita” with tequila, lemon sour, strawberry simple syrup and sparkling wine. Mixed drinks are comfortably in the $9-$10 range; the draft list is an unsurprising mix of Mexican beers (Pacifico, Dos Equis, Corona Light) and domestics. One inclusion I wasn’t expecting: Atlas Brew Works District Common.

The designers have really done a number on the One Lounge space, exposing a barrel-vaulted glass ceiling in the main bar, and brick walls throughout. Nooks are filled with Mexican tiles and cow skulls; the dining room has comfortable leather banquettes as well as informal high tables. Upstairs has its own bar, though it’s not clear (even to the owners) whether this will be a Friday night party space, a private party area or just overflow.

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Urban Daddy: 50 Tequilas and Ghost Pepper Burgers

Jeff Dufour

We hope you found a way through the elements today to some corned beef and Irish whiskey.

We also hope it’s not too early to think about the next national holiday. Yup, Cinco de Mayo.

Because here to help you prep is Mission, a multiroom lair of tequila and chile rellenos, opening Wednesday in the old One Lounge space north of Dupont.

This is a best-of-both-worlds place. The first world is one where you post up at the long bar, with the glass arched atrium overhead. Take in a tournament game. Take in a tequila (there are 50, including some rare ones). Order a beef/chorizo burger with ghost pepper cheese. And maybe an ice cube to suck on.

In the second world, you’ll lead a group into the leather-paneled dining room, or—when all this snow melts—onto the big front patio. Your chef’s a Mexico City native who helms the highly regarded R&R Taqueria outside Baltimore, so you’ll want to get cozy with some carnitas or fish cooked in banana leaves.

But if your business is of a sensitive nature, book the private room upstairs, with its own bar and a red phone booth for private calls and cell phone charging.

Or turning into a costumed crime fighter.

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