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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Washington Business Journal: Owners of Mission To Open New Restaurant and Bar on U Street

Rebecca Cooper

One of U Street NW’s best rooftops will soon get yet another new life, this time as a modern American restaurant and bar from the owners of Mission in Dupont Circle.
The restaurant, which has yet to be named, will open by the end of May at 1336 U St. NW, which for several years was home to Tabaq Bistro and was also New Town Kitchen and Bar for several months last year.

The spot comes from Reed Landry and Fritz Brogan, who own Mission Mexican restaurant in Dupont Circle and are both owners of Mason Inn in Glover Park and Chinese Disco in Georgetown.
The restaurant will have a menu of “scratch-made, approachable” American food from chef David McGuirk, who most recently worked at Matchbox and before that at Town Hall in Glover Park.

They’re in the process of doing mostly cosmetic renovations to the space, Landry said.

“Fritz and I have wanted to be on U Street for quite a while, and we finally found a space that encompasses everything we wanted: multiple dining areas, four bars, a few private events spaces, a beautiful rooftop,” Landry said.

Landry and Brogan saw U Street as a draw because it’s “ground zero for nightlife” in the District, he said. So what does that mean for the spots where they got their start, in what used to be a D.C. nightlife hub? They have no plans to close Chinese Disco or Mason Inn, he said, but their focus for new spots is definitely east.

“People who used to go out in Georgetown every weekend have changed their tune to where they’re going out at night and looking for restaurants and nightlife,” Landry said. “As far as where we have our sights set in the future, it’s definitely in the U Street area and possibly even further.”

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Washington Post: Mason Inn, Mission owners to take over former Tabaq Bistro space

Holley Simmons

The grandiose space on U Street that formerly housed Tabaq Bistro — and, for a brief moment, New Town Kitchen & Bar — has itself new tenants.

The property, at 1336 U St., has four spacious stories plus a glass rooftop with a retractable roof and a 360-degree view of D.C.

“One of the reasons we love the space is that it has so many cool nooks and crannies and party areas,” Brogan says. “And the view speaks for itself.”

There will be a bar on each level and the duo expect to host DJs and install TVs to cater to sports fans.

The American-skewing menu will be overseen by chef David McGuirk, formerly of Town Hall and Matchbox restaurants.

The unnamed project marks the fourth restaurant from Brogan and Landry, who also own Mason Inn and Chinese Disco in Georgetown, as well as Mission taqueria in Dupont Circle.

Renovations are expected to begin in early April, with a projected opening in early summer.

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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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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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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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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