Republic Cantina has ended its preview phase and is all glownup, as previews go it was long, at seven or so weeks it almost lasted as long as summer. No matter, because it felt very much like a restaurant from day one, on the occasions I visited not once did I get the sense that they were new to the game. The service was always good, the food excellent, the space charming and fresh. Situated in a new upscale condo building on a small block just off New York Ave in Truxton Circle, RC has definitely taken the neighborhood, if not city, by storm, landing on plenty of summer best of lists already. And rightly so.
I’ve never really conformed to the idea that a tortilla could make a dish, I’d typically take corn over flour if given a choice, it always seemed the more reliable option. Not at Republic Cantina, their flour tortillas made in-house are the star - imperfectly round but perfectly sized, not too thick but not too thin, and the right consistency so it doesn’t break apart as you’re rolling up your fajita, or mopping up the juices of a sizzling skillet - with choices of steak, chicken, shrimp, smoked mushroom with tofu, to rotating specials of chorizo sausage, pork belly or brisket. The smoked mushrooms are an excellent complement to a meat, if not always plentiful, there were a couple of occasions I wondered if the mushrooms had been left out, but the tofu more than made up for it, bouncy and golden mixed in with the melted cheese at the bottom of the sizzling skillet along side bright charred vegetables, it made me almost forget about the missing mushrooms.
The restaurant itself is more akin to a cafe, there’s a front patio and a side patio that faces the alley, an unusual but not out of place area to dine, although I did see a city rat scurry along the opposing wall one evening. It makes for conversation if anything. There are on-the-rocks margaritas available as well as an interesting frozen avocado margarita that could be an easy sub for a dessert, if you’re not feeling liquor there’s also a pretty good selection of Texas wines you should definitely check out. Republic Cantina has upped the ante in DC for how Tex-Mex should be, I’m sure it'll do many a Texan proud.
Republic Cantina: 43 N Street NW, Washington DC (closest metro: NoMa)