Where to Drink Orange Crushes Closer to Home

Meredith Bethune

Maryland’s favorite drink — the Orange Crush — is taking over D.C. What started as a summer tradition in Ocean City is now appearing in plenty of local bars and restaurants. Even Nationals Park is getting in on the trend.

Of course a Mexican restaurant and bar subs tequila for vodka in this interpretation of the drink called “Summer Crush.”

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On Tap: Top 20 Coolest Restaurants/Bars of 2014

Jean Schindler

Mission: I first came here over the summer, deeply skeptical that the preppy brains behind Mason Inn could produce Mexican food that my Californian family wouldn’t hate. I ate my skepticism. My companion wasn’t hungry but ate a plate of tacos because they were irresistible. Most importantly, the guacamole – a basic luxury in life that so few get right – really is smashing. Mission: 1606 20th St. NW, DC; 202-525-2010

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Washingtonian: 5 Things To Look For At Mission

Anna Spiegel

We’re longtime fans of R&R Taqueria—along with Guy Fieri and countless others—but the drive to the original, at a gas station in Elkridge, Maryland, isn’t for everyone. Luckily, fans can get a taste of chef Rodrigo Albarran’s Mexican cooking just steps from the Dupont Circle Metro with Mission, now open. Here’s what to look for when you head over this weekend.
Margaritas on the patio or beneath the skylight

Rodrigo, who still splits time between his two R&R locations and the new spot, partnered with Mason Inn and George owners Fritz Brogan and Reed Landry for the concept. The restaurant is a new move for all three—it’s much bigger in scope than a stools-only taqueria, and a departure from the duo’s booze-only bars. The three worked with their team to transform the seemingly subterranean former One Lounge space into a rustic Mexican eatery, sporting pristine white walls and dark wood floors. A large skylight—more like a sky-ceiling—above the bar allows plenty of sunshine, while you can catch direct rays on a 50-seat patio in warmer weather.

Tacos y hamburguesas
A larger space means a bigger menu for Rodrigo. You’ll find some similar dishes from the chef’s repertoire of Mexico City-style cooking, including fresh tortillas stuffed with pork carnitas and homey pozole. Still, the dinner-only (for now) menu includes many more options, including a variety of seafood specialties such as ceviche, soup stewed with whole clams, and crispy mahi-mahi tacos. Vegetarians can also do well here with poblano pepper-potato tacos and chiles rellenos, while meat lovers can opt for racks of ribs with adobe barbecue sauce and a fiery burger topped with über-spicy ghost peppers.

Pour-your-own tequila shots
Brogan points out that Mission is the first bar (see the drink menu) in DC to have Corona on tap, which you can sip alongside small or large pitchers of frozen margs and other Mexican-restaurant staples. But the 50-deep list of tequilas and mezcals is the star of the bar. All can be ordered in eight-ounce carafes for pouring your dining companions shots at the table.

Happy hour and late-night service
Night owls looking for a late dinner can drop in for the full menu until 11 on weekdays and midnight on weekends. After the kitchen wraps up, a deejay will play on certain nights, taking things back to the lounge days. Guests can also head up to the second-floor bar to sip margaritas into the wee hours. Happy hour runs between 5 and 7:30 and currently includes $3 Tecates and $6.50 house margaritas; more drink and food specials are in the works.

Looking ahead: lunch, bottomless brunch
No Dupont spot is complete without bottomless brunch, which Mission plans to launch this summer (bubbly and/or tequila to be determined). You’ll see lunch service debut earlier, as well as online reservations through OpenTable.

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DC Inno: Dish of the Week: Mahi-Mahi Tacos de Pescado at Mission

Sophie Pyle

There’s a new Mexican restaurant just north of Dupont Circle: Mission. Georgetown nightlife kings Reed Landry and Fritz Brogan (George, Mason Inn) opened the restaurant last week, and tapped Ransom Construction to brighten up what was once One Lounge. Now, the space is painted white, a long skylight above the bar invites the sunshine beam in, a fireplace lined with two cubbies of wood frames a space that was once a bar, and white church pews frame tables and rooms throughout the venue.

The gentlemen chose Chef Rodrigo Albarran to run the menu. He owns two RR Taqueria locations in Maryland and hails from Mexico City. I’ve patronized Landry and Brogan’s parties and venues for years on my quest for vodka Red Bull-fueled nights and group “shot-skis” (four shots glued to a snow ski), and since I was expecting this place to be likewise bar-centric, I was surprised to find excellent cuisine on the menu.

I’ve always liked the fruit-and-salt combos featured at Mexican restaurants, and took my chances on the $11 Tacos de Pescado on Mission’s menu. It’s described as a set of three “mahi-mahi with mango and pineapple mix” tacos. At first glance, the tacos are a healthy size. Sometimes higher-end Mexican restaurants serve tiny tacos, and Mission’s set of three were big enough to feed a hungry person (I ended up taking one of them home). It comes with a side of green salsa and a lime wedge.

The mahi-mahi fish is perfectly cooked and fried. Chef Albarran douses the fish with colorful pineapple-and-mango salsa and drizzles some sort of chipotle sauce to round it out. It’s easy to eat – the flour tortillas are easy to handle, and I was glad that there wasn’t a lot of drip from excess water in the dish. I ate the tacos at El Rey and though they tasted good, but the fish juices dripped down my arm and into my shirt sleeve, leaving me smelling like fish for the rest of the night. Back to Mission’s tacos: The crunch of the salsa and fried fish makes for a great texture, and proves this isn’t some ragtag taco joint upping its prices just because it’s in a great location.

This was washed down with the bar’s signature $10 margarita: a spicy pineapple-jalapeño margarita made with El Jimador Agave tequila. Like the tacos, it’s spicy-but-not-too-spicy with a sweet finish from the pineapple. Before leaving, I glanced at the bar, and good looking young professionals were either drinking the same or cans of Tecate.

Mission opens everyday at 5 p.m. and plans to launch brunch and lunch later this spring.

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