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Our Story

Jose Reyes, the founder and owner of El Tamarindo, grew up in El Salvador. During the 1970's he immigrated to the United States in search of a better life. In 1982, Mr. Reyes opened El Tamarindo, serving Mexican and El Salvadorean food after years of working at local restaurants. When he arrived from El Salvador, he did not know how to read or write but returned to school to do so while operating the restaurant. He now owns El Tamarindo with his daughters Ana Reyes and Evelyn Andrade.

Named after Mr. Reyes' hometown, El Tamarindo is more than a restaurant. It is a story of how a family has worked hard to keep the El Salvadorean traditions alive in Washington, DC. When the owner, Jose Reyes, and his wife, Betty Reyes, arrived in Washington, DC, Adams Morgan and Columbia Heights were predominantly El Salvadoran neighborhoods. El Tamarindo gave many immigrants, especially those who survived painful separations from their families as their home country, El Salvador was suffering a civil war during the 1980s.

In a neighborhood that has witnessed gentrification and the Latino community's flight due to rising housing costs, the restaurant has been a mainstay in the Adams Morgan neighborhood. Gentrification changed the neighborhoods' demographics and culture. People who have moved away from the neighborhood return and let us know how happy they are to be back. They're delighted to find the same restaurant, same family, and the same great recipes. Everything has changed so much in the neighborhood, and the restaurant provides a sense that their culture is still alive in Washington, DC.

El Tamarindo is woven into many of the stories of people who have lived and worked in the District of Columbia for the past 40 years. Many college students and young professionals starting their careers probably enjoyed late-night tacos after a night out in Adams Morgan. Second-generation El Salvadorans return to El Tamarindo to learn more about pupusas, the thick corn tortillas brimming with savory fillings that are the national dish of El Salvador. Young families sit at their patios with their kids, enjoying a Sunday brunch. Although the neighborhood has changed, the Reyes family continues to host regulars who have been part of the journey for the past 40 years.

Beyond tacos, pupusas, and margaritas, the Reyes family has given back to the community that has been part of their lives for the past four decades. El Tamarindo has hosted numerous fundraisers and community events ranging from local politics town halls, PTA's, raising funds to protect immigrants' legal rights at the border, protecting journalism in El Salvador, among other causes.

Being the longest-standing El Salvadoran restaurant in Washington, DC, El Tamarindo is not only a slice of home for many immigrants, but it is a place where many people learned about the El Salvadorean culture.

Our signature event is National Pupusa Day, celebrated the second Sunday in November. In 2016, Mayor Muriel Bowser declared November 13 DC Pupusa Day at El Tamarindo. Additionally, Ana Reyes, El Tamarindo's administrator, accompanied Muriel Bowser on a historic trip to El Salvador. There, the mayor learned more about the country and voiced her support for the DC-based El Salvadorean community.

Ana Reyes, daughter of owner Jose Reyes and administrator of El Tamarindo, also supports a community of women in El Salvador. She sells sustainably made bags of recycled material made in El Salvador at the restaurant. Proceeds go to help women find better housing and educational opportunities for their children.

Located in U Street and Florida Avenue's prominent corner, El Tamarindo is a landmark of the Adams Morgan neighborhood. The owners also lend the outer walls to local artists to create colorful murals giving the community a unique identity. The restaurant has also hosted many local Latino artists to exhibit their works inside the restaurant. Being the oldest Salvadorean restaurant in the District, it also paved the way for more Latino and immigrant restaurants to open in the city.

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