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D.C. taqueria El Rey to open new Ballston location next week

Ballston is about to get a 6,300-square-foot taqueria and “margarita garden.”

U Street NW taco spot El Rey is branching out from D.C. and opening on the ground floor of the Ballston Exchange building at 4201 Wilson Blvd. After nearly two-and-a-half years of anticipation, following pandemic-related delays, the eatery is finally set to open its doors.

The official opening date is Monday, Dec. 20, the group behind El Rey announced Monday evening — though restaurants often have unofficial “soft openings” in the days prior, to try to work out some service kinks.

“On December 20th, D.C.’s favorite taqueria and margarita garden will bring its signature margaritas, savory tacos, and joyous fiesta vibes to the heart of Arlington,” said a press release. “Alongside the crowd favorite margaritas and tacos, El Rey Ballston will feature some exclusive menu items like mouthwatering tortas, savory overstuffed burritos, and papas birria nachos 0- think Mexican cheese fries with all the extras.”

“The 6,290-square-foot taqueria also boasts a 50-foot-bar that extends along the entire main dining area with multiple margarita stations and 12 taps featuring both import and local beers from our craft brewery friends right here in the area,” the press release continued. “A separate takeout area, dubbed ‘Lucha Libre’ is available for guests in a hurry to order ‘grab-and-go’ items on the fly.”

El Rey will be open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m.-midnight, plus Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m.-2 a.m.

Brothers Ian and Eric Hilton are behind El Rey, along with Cafe Colline along Langston Blvd; D.C. spots American Ice Company, Chez Billy Sud, The Brixton, The Brighton, and Players Club; Parc de Ville in the Mosaic District; Solace Outpost in Falls Church; and delivery-only burger purveyor Gee Burger.

Ian Hilton, a resident of Arlington’s Donaldson Run neighborhood, previously told ARLnow that he was looking forward to opening restaurants closer to home. El Rey nearly closed in D.C. last year, due to pandemic challenges, but was kept open by popular demand.

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