Arlington, VA

El Rey is finally under construction in Ballston — and eyeing a May opening date.

We first reported in July 2019 that the taco shop was branching out from its U Street NW location in D.C. and opening a Ballston outpost at 4201 Wilson Blvd.

Thanks at least in part to the pandemic, it’s a year-and-a-half behind schedule, but Ian Hilton — one half of the brother duo behind it and a number of other local restaurants and watering holes — tells ARLnow that the owners are “hoping” to open in May, if all goes well.

A peek inside yesterday revealed that interior construction is still in the early stages, with the space still mostly an empty shell.

In D.C., El Rey offers tacos, tequila-based cocktails, wine, sangria, beer and weekend brunch. The new location just applied for a Virginia ABC permit to offer beer, wine and mixed drinks, so expect more of the same in Ballston.

The permit suggests El Rey will have more than 150 seats — some may be outdoors, among other outdoor dining at the Ballston Exchange office complex, across from Ballston Quarter mall — and will be formally known as “El Rey Filling Station.”

Hilton revealed no other details about the latest plans for El Rey, but did offer that the brothers’ other Arlington restaurant, Cafe Colline at the Lee Heights Shops along Lee Highway, will reopen its dining room today after a takeout-only winter.

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