El Centro is a new restaurant specializing in classical Mexican cuisine. Reviving the space that used to be Third Edition, El Centro has two seating levels, four bar counters and an outdoor patio and looks to be the new favorite in the Georgetown bar scene.
For those seeking something more upscale than Los Cuates, what makes El Centro stand out is its margaritas. Made with fresh-squeezed lime juice, agave syrup andSauza blue tequila, the margaritas are tart and refreshing. Traditionalists should start with the lime flavor, but on-the-rocks choices include strawberry, prickly pear or a pineapple and habanero flavor called the Spina. The restaurant also offers house-infused tequilas, which range from more classic flavors like strawberry and papaya to more adventurous ones like basil and cilantro. However, I personally recommend the frozen variety — served in tall water glasses, the margarita serving size is far from skimpy, something which many trendy restaurants are guilty of. Margaritas are $9 to $12 for an individual glass, $22 to $26 for half pitchers and $40 to $47 for full pitchers.
El Centro also has various Mexican-inspired cocktails such as the El Centro Dark & Stormy, flavored with chilies and ginger, the classic Paloma with lime and grapefruit and one of my favorites, the Red and Smokey, which fuses together smoky mescal tequila, chili-ginger and hibiscus. The spiciness mixed with the smoky and floral notes creates a surprisingly smooth, unique drink. The restaurant also has a “tequila bible,” which has a selection of over 100 tequilas. Prices range from $8 to $150 and diners can order individual tequilas or pre-fixed tastings.
Along with its remarkable alcohol selection, El Centro also has exceptional, traditional Mexican food prepared by chef and owner Richard Sandoval. All meals begin with freshly fried tortilla chips and homemade salsa. The chips are thick and crispy without being overly greasy, and you can also have guacamole made tableside to your preference. Other appetizers include empanadas, ceviche and tamales. For the main dish, be sure to try out the huaraches — similar to a Mexican pizza — which are corn masa flatbreads topped with cheese and toppings. The grilled skirt steak huarache combines steak, caramelized onions, black beans, crema and salsa.
The more adventurous can order tacos with beef tongue or octopus, but delectable classics like chicken tinga or pork shoulder are available. Their Jalisco shrimp and crab enchilada served with corn and plantains is exceptional, and one of their best dishes is the short rib cazuela served with autumn root vegetables and corn tortillas. The generously sized portion is meaty and melts in your mouth.
El Centro also has unbelievable daily deals. Their nightly happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m. features $4 lime margaritas, select beers and house wines. Nacho Monday offers nachos with your choice of toppings for $5.95. They also have $2 Taco Tuesdays, $5 Margarita Wednesdays and half-priced Sangria Sundays. On Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, there may not be any monetary discounts, but the restaurant is home to late-night dancing.