Eating your way 'round the world

Ricardo Alday González, the spokesman for the Embassy of Mexico, follows the 2009 recommendations of the “Authentic Flavors of Mexico,” a government-run foundation dedicated to giving the staple of authentic Mexican food to Mexican restaurants in foreign countries.

Taqueria Nacional made the top of the list. This Mexican lunch joint, near Union Station and the U.S. Capitol, is known for its juicy, tender beef tacos topped with onions and cilantro, and lathered in an addictive salsa verde. Wrapped in a double corn tortilla, these tasty, authentic tacos are well worth the $2.50.

Ordering an agua fresca is a must. This popular Mexican fruit drink is hard to find, but Taqueria Nacional carried delicious flavors including watermelon, pineapple and hibiscus.

You can’t leave Taqueria Nacional without trying the yucca fries. Fried to perfection, these thick, flakey fries are paired with an excellent tartar-like green sauce you’ll want to drench them in.

Runners-up included Taqueria Distrito Federal in Columbia Heights and Casa Oaxaca on 18th Street off the Woodley Park-Zoo Metro stop.

Not a fan of Mexican food? Head over to James Hoban’s Irish Restaurant & Bar, recommended by Steven Hammersmark of the Embassy of Ireland. Hoban’s, located just a few blocks from the embassy, is a go-to for embassy staff members.

Named after the little-known Irishman who designed the White House, James Hoban’s brings the taste of Ireland to Dupont Circle. Pull up a seat at this airy, modern bar for a pint of Guinness served by the attentive bar staff.

During a rugby game the bar is packed, full of conversation, hoots and hollers and the roar of Irish laughter. Sink your teeth into the O’Malley burger, an Angus beef burger with Dublin cheddar, applewood bacon and Guinness BBQ sauce. Traditional Irish dishes include bangers & mash, shepherd’s pie and fish and chips, of course.

For a more peaceful meal, take a seat out in the breezy heat of the large outdoor patio to enjoy cool summer ale and a cheese plate. Highly recommended is the fried, creamy Brie & Ale appetizer, served with raspberry and mango compote and baguette toast.

Charles LeGette, director of communications and marketing for the Embassy of France, recommends a slew of restaurants, including Plume at the Jefferson Hotel, PAUL bakery and café, and Ici Urban Bistro at the Hotel Sofitel. Bistrot Lepic, serving authentic French cuisine and wine in Georgetown, proved to be the most highly rated.

Bistrot Lepic recreates dining on a street in Paris for Washingtonians to experience on Wisconsin Ave. The chic upstairs lounge and bar area makes for a cozy, intimate date-night venue.

Delicious hors d’oeuvres include a perfectly seared duck foie gras, served in a caramelized mango and port sauce, and a salmon tartar with dill and Asian seaweed. Ever tried escargots? Bistrot Lepic prepares tender, organic burgundy snails in savory garlic butter.

Whether you love duck, veal, beef or salmon, every dish is a delight. The seafood salad is light and fresh, filled with grilled salmon, shrimp and scallops over spring greens and fresh mango. The cassoulet brings excellent flavors in the Toulouse garlic sausage, lamb and duck confit bean stew.

If you’re a bit more adventurous, the veal kidneys have great texture, served with chunky Yukon gold potatoes and Dijon mustard sauce. Braised to perfection, the veal cheeks melt in your mouth over pasta and cream.

Known for having a rare selection of French wines, Bistrot Lepic makes a great stop just for drinks and desserts with friends. The double-chocolate tart served with crème anglaise is served hot with a fluffy inside, while pear tarts topped with a berry sauce and the crème brûlée are the common go-to choices.

Whether you are in the mood for Mexican, Irish or French cuisine, try out one of these many delicious and highly recommended D.C. restaurants. For other suggestions, call up the embassy of your choice, and they will be happy to assist you in finding whatever your favorite authentic food may be.