Pepita Cantina

4.2
124 reviews
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$30 and under
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Mexican
Pepita is the brainchild of Chef Mike Isabella and Taha Ismail, partner and beverage director for Mike Isabella Concepts. True to its name, this Mexican cantina features a small menu of casual Mexican favorites along side a robust 35-drink cocktail program of classic Mexican and contemporary American cocktails with an extensive list of tequila, mezcal, and fruit juices that are squeezed in-house daily.
Dining Style
Casual Dining
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Cuisines
Mexican
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Hours of operation
Sunday & Monday: 11:30am-9pm (bar until 10pm)
Tuesday-Saturday: 11:30am-10pm (bar until 11pm)


Happy Hour everyday from 3pm-7pm.
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Phone number
(703) 312-0200
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Payment options
AMEX, Discover, MasterCard, Pay with OpenTable, Visa
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Dress code
Casual Dress
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Catering
Whether you’re feeding a handful of coworkers at the office or a few hundred guests at a wedding reception, let our expert culinary team make it an event to remember. Bring a taste of Mike Isabella’s restaurants to your event. Our expansive catering menus offer an array of dining options in a number of cuisines, including Italian, Greek, Mexican and Contemporary American.

Visit us at mikeisabella.com/catering/
Contact us at events@mikeisabella.com.
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Neighborhood
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Cross street
Entrance on North Quincy St.
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Parking details
In addition to street and metered parking, garage parking is available at 4075 Wilson Blvd, in Two Liberty Center across the street. Entrance is next to HSBC on Randolph St. $3 from 5pm-midnight during the week and all day on the weekends.
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Public transit
Virginia Square, Ballston
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Entertainment
We have three TV's to show all sports events year round. Specials are paired with sports every day.
Additional
Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, Beer, Cocktails, Full Bar, Happy Hour, Non-Smoking, Outdoor dining, Wheelchair Access, Wine

What Insiders Are Saying

The Infatuation
7.6

A no-fuss Mexican joint where you can wash down great food with impressive drinks.

Ratings 7.5-8.0:These are restaurants that are reliable, tasty, and particularly good for whatever we have deemed them “Perfect For.” Hit up a 7.7 for Date Night with confidence, as long as you don’t need the restaurant to be the most interesting thing that happens that night.
What 124 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.2based on recent ratings
4.2
food
4.0
service
4.0
ambience
3.9
value
Noise · Moderate
78% of people would recommend it to a friend
5
4
3
2
1
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OT
Philadelphia
2 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We decided to sit at the bar, and our bartender James was outstanding. He was extremely personable, but recognized when my date and I wanted to talk amongst each other. He offered us tasting of the margaritas, and attempted to upsell us when possible, but he did so without being too pushy. As a former bartender myself, I found him to be personable, perceptive, and respectful.

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OT
Washington DC
3 reviews
Dined on November 11, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 4

Good for groups

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k
New York Area
7 reviews
Dined on October 21, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Great veggie tacos!

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t
Washington DC
22 reviews
Dined on October 10, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 3ambience 3

great tacos - all the concrete makes it hard to speak to one another.

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AB
Washington DC
13 reviews
Dined on September 15, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 5

Hands down, Pepita Cantina has some of the best guac, queso, and salsa in the DC area. I'm also a big fan of their veggie taco, but I wish they'd add ANOTHER vegetarian taco to the mix. Regardless, it's always delicious.

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OT
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on August 29, 2018
Overall 2food 3service 4ambience 1

I went in thinking that this would be nice Mexican food, but it wasn’t. Everything was white-gentrified and pricey. This place takes simple food and makes it into hipster garbage. Elote has renamed “crazy corn,” for crying out loud. The menus were paper print-outs, and they clearly hadn’t bothered to read my reservation.

There’s no way I was going to stay here, so we bailed. This was my anniversary dinner. Not cool.

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OT
Washington DC
5 reviews
Dined on August 5, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

James was great!

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OT
San Francisco
4 reviews
Dined on July 27, 2018
Overall 2food 2service 1ambience 3

The service was terrible, the food was over salted but some dishes had very little seasoning. We had two dishes that came out under cooked. I would not recommend this restaurant.

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HG
Orange County
15 reviews
Dined on July 15, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Good and service was great. The only thing was had a bit of trouble finding location. Shows one address, but actually on side street around corner. The nice man who answered phone was able to give me directions.

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OT
Washington DC
5 reviews
Dined on July 11, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 2ambience 3

The lunch hour may need an additional server.

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OT
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on May 26, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Authentic Mexican or Californian Mexican food
Try the homemade ginger beer

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OT
1 review
Dined on May 19, 2018
Overall 3food 2service 2ambience 4

Decent food, ordered the burritos, nothing special. Drinks were decent as well. Good for a lively place for a low key more laid back dining experience.

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OT
Washington DC
3 reviews
Dined on April 30, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 4

Food was great and service was quick. Water was never refilled by waiter but he was nice and it was an overall good experience.

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GK
1 review
Dined on April 27, 2018
Overall 1food 3service 1ambience 3

I'm the guy who never leaves a review with a good experience or bad experience but im hopeful management will look into our experience. Serving staff was fairly horrible. Took too long to order drinks (which when finally served were incorrect) and didn't receive silverware for 10mins post food making it's way to our table, etc... just overall not what I expect from a Mike Isabella establishment. I understand it's a casual fast food spot but have higher expectations I guess.

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OT
Washington DC
5 reviews
Dined on April 27, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 3ambience 3

Made a reservation at the last minute on a Friday night when my mom came into town. It was a fantastic choice! The place itself is small, but comfortable. Both my mom and my wife enjoyed their drinks, which were tasty and strong. The guacamole and queso were delicious, generous portions served with warm chips. We ordered several tacos - shrimp, chicken & brisket - and enjoyed every one. Everything was hot & clearly fresh right from the kitchen. Our only complaint was the service - at first it was prompt and responsive, but once we had food our server seemed to disappear. We had to ask for boxes and the check a few times and ended up getting both from a food runner/busser. We’ll definitely go back because the food more than made up for any downsides.

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OT
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on April 14, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Great experience on covered patio for an 80 deg day. Margarita, chips, and salsa were great. It was a regular frozen margarita. The salsa was smokey flavored ...but consistency was perfect. Chips were right thickness. Nacho was a little overcooked and wouldn't recommend but overall was very good. I will return but won't order nacho again. Patio was nice and there was a separate seating area with couch. Great setup for group of friends outside.

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MM
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on April 14, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 5

The mai tai was more like margarita. The food had flavor, and was good, but they forgot to bring part of the order. The indoor seating was frigid cold and loud. I liked the outside area much better. It was a busy night I guess, because we kept getting offered other people’s food.

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HK
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on April 6, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 3ambience 4

Pepitos is great, although I think they could refine their reservation system. At least 4 groups arrived at the same time for their 7:15pm, and they couldn’t seat any of us for at least 15 minutes. Otherwise, wonderful staff and amazing tacos and tequila!

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OT
Washington DC
60 reviews
Dined on March 31, 2018
Overall 2food 2service 2ambience 2

Not impressed. Limited menu. Bland drinks. Food was a solid -ehh. Nothing special. And the service fits in well with the rest of it. Not quick, friendly, or customer oriented. Too many other good places around in this neighborhood to waste your time here.

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DC
Washington DC
24 reviews
Dined on March 29, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 2

Our group decided to have a Happy Hour here for their Thursday "Tiki Night" promotion. The drinks were overpriced for the quality and their food selection was lacking in options. We've tried this place several times and have yet to find something to like about it.

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C
Washington DC
2 reviews
Dined on March 24, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 4

The food was OK, nothing amazing. Good drink selection.

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OT
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on January 27, 2018
Overall 1food 1service 1ambience 1

Really subpar for a Mike Isabella restaurant. We were disappointed in the food selection, taste & quality of the food we ordered.

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SK
Washington DC
13 reviews
Dined on January 27, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 2ambience 3

Delicious tacos. Great food. Awesome flavour. Good drinks. A really great place in Arlington.
Service was bit sloppy. When delivering and removing the plates, serve kept dripping juices from the food. It was very careless and obnoxious. These greasy juices almost ruined our clothes. Servers should definitely get some training on how to deliver food and clear the table.

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d
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on January 20, 2018
Overall 2food 3service 1ambience 3

I thought the food was good and I hate to leave a bad review of this place because I really wanted to like it. I had people visiting me from out of town and they enjoy Mexican food so I found Pepita Cantina. Our reservation was at 7:15 and we arrived exactly on time. The host, who also said he was the manager, said that they were running a bit behind since they overbooked and the wait would be 20-30 min after our reservation time. He offered to give us complimentary drinks at the bar while we waited, since the time delay was the restaurant's fault, so we said okay. We sat at the bar and we each ordered a standard classic house margarita. Once they table was ready we moved from the bar, with our drinks, and sat at the table to have our meal. However, when the bill came, they had charged us for the so called "complimentary" drinks we had ordered at the bar while waiting for our table!!!!! I have never given a bad review in my entire life for a restaurant, but that is also because I have never been LIED to at a restaurant. We didn't say anything because we didn't want to cause a scene. But I am truly appalled. I thought it was extremely hurtful the restaurant would say the drinks would be complimentary, and then charge us for it, (we also tipped the bartender in cash for making the drinks), and then PURPOSELY take our money under false impressions. Never will I come back there or to any other Mike Isabella restaurant, and I will be sure to tell all my friends how untruthful and deceiving the restaurant was.

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DB
Washington DC
13 reviews
Dined on January 13, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Very small restaurant with very few tables so could be difficult to find a table without a reservation glad we did that. Since so small service from beginning to main meal move really too fast for us we did not have time to really enjoy drinks before.

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GP
Washington DC
4 reviews
Dined on January 11, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Great food m, huge portions!

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OT
Washington DC
8 reviews
Dined on December 9, 2017
Overall 4food 3service 4ambience 4

This is a great spot for a drink -- but both the restaurant AND the menu are very small.

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OT
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on November 4, 2017
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 5

The all-you-can-eat tacos is a misnomer because 1/3 of the tacos aren’t available, making it not that great of a deal unless you know you will eat more than 4 tacos and you don’t want beef or fish (which, by the way, are the exact same price as the tacos that are included in the deal).

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RF
Washington DC
15 reviews
Dined on October 7, 2017
Overall 3food 4service 2ambience 2

Food was good, ad usual. However, had to ask the server for a glass for my beer snd a glass with ice for a coke. Just not up to snuff.

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LB
Washington DC
2 reviews
Dined on September 15, 2017
Overall 1food 1service 2ambience 3

Terrible food

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s
Washington DC
23 reviews
Dined on September 12, 2017
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

Very good lunch specials. Tacos had nice balance of flavor and heat. Very fresh tasting salsa. Attentive and patient service. My coworkers were asking lots of questions amd making special demands.

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CL
Washington DC
4 reviews
Dined on September 9, 2017
Overall 5food 4service 4ambience 4

Another great Mike Isabella restaurant. Please bring back the chicken enchilada!

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C
Washington DC
11 reviews
Dined on September 8, 2017
Overall 3food 3service 2ambience 4

Pepita Cantina was good, but it could be great with a few small tweaks. Let start with the good - the guacamole and smokey house salsa were very good. And presentation of the tacos also very good.

Unfortunately, some of the taco didn't live up to their looks, at least when we dined there. The lamb and shrimp tacos were very good. The veggie taco was a little too crunchy. And the carnitas had way too much untrimmed fat for me, and the chicken was just bland. All of this could be easily fixed in the kitchen with a little more attention and a little more spice.

The sides of black beans and rice were good. An order of each was fine to split between two people.

Finally, our server was a little hard to find. It seemed to take a long time between drinks and ordering dinner.

So, in summary, Pepita was fun. We'd go back again, especially if they paid just a little more attention to details....

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OT
Washington DC
140 reviews
Dined on August 14, 2017
Overall 2food 1service 5ambience 4

Wow, from Mike Isabella?? So disappointing. I ordered the guacamole, which was excellent. However, the tuna "ceviche" was horrendous -- tuna and avocado in a BLAZING HOT chili pepper-flaked sauce. I'm a ceviche afficionado and I've NEVER seen THIS kind of "ceviche." Here's how it was described on the menu: "coconut-curry lime, avocado, corn nuts." There was zero coconut or curry taste; just straight up HOT peppers. It was so hot it was pretty much inedible (and I LIKE spicy food). The other item on the Restaurant Week menu was a "taco salad," which my waiter said would also be very spicy. It was described as "romaine, corn, fresnos, queso, chili-lime vinaigrette. He suggested the spinach and mushroom quesadilla, which I took him up on. I will say, it wasn't spicy.......but it also didn't taste like anything; totally bland. The coconut flan was delicious. If it weren't for the waiter, Fabian, the lunch would have been a total disaster. But he was professional, helpful and offered a solution. Although I wont' return, I'd suggest keeping Fabian on staff...........but get a new cook (when Isabella isn't there).

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BR
Washington DC
40 reviews
Dined on August 14, 2017
Overall 2food 2service 1ambience 2

Extremely disappointing Restaurant Week menu. If the point is to encourage diners to return, they totally fell short. The appetizer choices were three dips for tortilla chips. There were only two entree choices, one was a salad that had no meat in it. And tho two choices were listed for desserts, only one was available as they cookies had not been baked yet.

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OT
Washington DC
24 reviews
Dined on August 12, 2017
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 3

Our party of four made an early (5:45) reservation on a Saturday to take full advantage of their daily (3-7) happy hour. We enjoyed several different kinds of margaritas and a wide selection of their tacos made with very fresh ingredients. We sat on the patio, which was perfect except for the dish nudging station, which unfortunately included an odor from a garbage can. Some other arrangement should be pursued. Our service was fine given that we were in no hurry, but our waiter was covering tables both inside and outside, which led to a bit more waiting than would have been optimal. All in all, this is not the crown jewell of Mike Isabella's empire, but it is a cut above most taquerias. The bar is the chief asset with a list of creative cocktails.

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JM
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on August 10, 2017
Overall 2food 2service 4ambience 3

Paid $42 without tip for 1 Marg, a taco salad, 2 small tacos, and vegetarian nachos. So over priced for a "eh meal"

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OT
Washington DC
6 reviews
Dined on July 22, 2017
Overall 4food 4service 2ambience 3

Food: The food and drinks were great. Boozy margs and mimosas, great chips with a roasted tomato salsa, and the flavors of the tacos were excellent. The vegetarian in our group loved the veggie tacos although she did mention the corn not being as flavorful as expected, and wondered about the possibility of avocado tacos to expand the veggie-friendly dishes.

Service/Pricing: Several of us went to Pepita for the bottomless tacos brunch and after being seated, quickly launched into ordering drinks and a large number bottomless tacos for the first 'course'.

When we went to order the second round of tacos and inquired about the chips and salsa that should have been included with the bottomless deal, we were told the waiter hadn't heard us say 'bottomless' and was charging us per taco. We asked if he could void that, since it would be much more expensive for each of us to pay for individual tacos and we'd asked for the bottomless taco deal from the beginning. Our waiter said he could add the $19 bottomless deal for each of us to our existing bill and it would cover any other tacos we ordered going forward. (He then brought the bottomless chips and salsa we should have gotten 20 minutes earlier.) We expressed our frustration about being charged per taco when all of us had said while ordering that the table was here for bottomless tacos, but he left our table saying he'd let us reconsider whether we wanted to order additional tacos.

We did order one more taco each, although we would have ordered more if we'd been charged for the bottomless deal.

Long story short: we were ripped off when trying to get the bottomless tacos brunch today. Seemed like the waiter just wanted to rack up as many individual taco orders as possible. Would have been helpful if he'd at least modified our bill once we'd called him on it. His service and our resulting more-expensive bill was a huge turnoff despite the great food.

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Philadelphia
4 reviews
Dined on July 16, 2017
Overall 3food 2service 3ambience 2

Nothing too spectacular about this place. It's out of the way (don't be fooled by the Arlington address). The margaritas were worth it, but the food was blah. Just your average (American) Mexican food. I wish I had found some place different in dc to eat after our Arlington cemetery tour. Oh well.

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c
Washington DC
42 reviews
Dined on July 14, 2017
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Good happy hour

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