City Desk

Was There Something Better Than Dessert at El Limeno?

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Some people went to Latino restaurant El Limeño in Petworth for the pupusas, for the yuca con chicharon, or the chuletas de cerdo. Others went for the $100 bags of cocaine. Fans of the latter delicacy, court papers say, could end up personally serviced by owner Elen Evelyn Argueta, 36. Yesterday, police raided her Upshur Street NW eatery, arresting Argueta and two others.

In 2007, The Washington Post named El Limeño as one of two spots near the Georgia Avenue Metro drawing younger crowds to Petworth. In the article, there's no Elen Evelyn Argueta, but a woman referred to as Evelyn Marquez. The Post recounts the history of how Marquez and her husband struggled to open up their establishment:

The story behind El Limeño is one of perseverance and tenacity. Husband-and-wife owners Roger and Evelyn Marquez got a business license to open their sunny cantina of a restaurant two years ago. But the space they planned to occupy, at Second and Upshur streets, had been home to a famously rowdy lounge and dance hall, and some neighbors did not want any new business there that would serve alcohol.

The couple eventually charmed the neighbors into letting them open. They probably didn't mention anything about drugs.

In August, before everything came crashing down around her, Argueta befriended and sold a c-note's worth (3.3 grams) of cocaine to someone who'd been hanging around the restaurant for weeks, according to documents. That was a mistake.The someone noticed she went into the kitchen to get the blow (highlighting the location of her stash). Also, that someone was an undercover police officer wearing a wire.

To make things worse for the restauranteur-turned-dealer, she decided to confide in her new acquaintance, admitting that she sold nose candy to "help pay the bills of the restaurant." On two separate occasions, the restaurateur sold the undercover cop a single $100 bag of coke. Later, when the real-life Donnie Brasco decided to up the stakes by requesting four bags, Argueta had to admit she didn't have that much, cops say.

Like any other restaurant, the fate of El Limeño's rep for satisfying customers then turned on one of its chefs. Documents say that when Argueta couldn't come up with the order, she phoned one of her cooks, Jamie Ascensio. Ascensio saved the day by strolling in with four Ziploc bags full of crack.

Cops moved in on what might have been either a drug front or a really bad fusion idea when, two months ago, there was a quadruple shooting in front of the place. Something else that made cops suspicious? According to court papers, "several known drug dealers" hung out at El Limeño and rarely ordered anything to eat or drink.

Were they the younger crowd the Post was so excited about?

Photo by andronicusmax via Flickr/Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

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  • Rick Mangus

    A little el nose candy!

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