Happy Frankenstorm and greetings to you from my couch. I’m thankful for Sandy because she’s giving me an opportunity to return to food writing after a long sabbatical. What have I been up to you ask? Settling into a new job and eating a lot of tacos.
Tacos. They’re everywhere. Restaurants, food trucks, food trucks-gone-brick-and-mortar-legit, and pop-ups.
Bandolero used to have some of my favorite “upscale” tacos (suckling pig and Mahi Mahi) but my most recent visit left me disappointed and unlikely to return. So, I’ve been searching for some new favorites.
Most recently, I checked out the debut of Taco Bamba, Victor Albisu’s pop-up at Blackjack (check out the website here). Taco Bamba will be taking over Blackjack (1612 14th St. NW) every Monday night until mid-December and will be serving a-la-carte tacos to walk-in diners from 6 to 11pm. It’s cancelled tonight so don’t get too excited (thank you, Sandy).
As usual, Chef Albisu did not disappoint. The launch party showcased canape-sized versions of Albisu’s tacos, including the duck tacos and the pork tongue tacos, which were my favorites. I also liked the “taco bamba” (skirt steak, chorizo, and topped with a mini chicharron) and grilled corn with chiles and lime. I’ll admit I didn’t get to try all the items on the preview menu as the event was clearly oversold. This meant I had to hunt for tacos amongst the hungry throngs of people packed into Blackjack’s rather small space. My friend Triple X and I managed to snag a front row spot at the bar. At least we could numb our hunger pangs with samples of Taco Bamba’s cocktails, including the Pineapple Agua Fresca (pineapple, lime juice, simple syrup and tequila, yum!), until we could plan out our taco-snagging system. Taco Bamba’s permanent location will be in Falls Church. For those like me who get the shakes when they leave District lines, I suggest you take advantage of Taco Bamba’s DC location as often as you can before the end of the year!
El Chucho in Columbia Heights has a few tasty selections, but I think its real draw is the funky-chill vibe. The guacamole ($8) was solid but miniscule. The queso frito was outstanding but I’ve yet to meet a fried cheese I didn’t like. As for tacos, only the al pastor (pork) and calabacita (veggie) taco were standouts. The Tripas taco promised more than it could deliver. Its key ingredients – foie gras and crispy beef – did not mesh well and I found it a bit off-putting to eat in fact.
Sometimes, I just want a simple, traditional taco. Corn tortilla, lime, cilantro, spicy salsa or a few jalapeno slices, and pork. That’s where places like Super Tacos & Bakery in Adams Morgan and Tacos el Chilango in the U Street corridor really hit the spot. I first tried Tacos “El Chilango” when it was only a food truck operating in Arlington. My friend, Fancypants, made me go after we lunched at the Green Pig Bistro in Arlington. I’d already inhaled the Green Pig’s awesome crispy pig tacos — juicy braised pork topped with fried pig ears — and couldn’t even stomach the idea of putting another piece of food in my mouth. Yet, I yielded to his pleas that I “needed” to try his favorite taco truck in Arlington. So, I forced down one more taco — El Chilango’s al pastor. While my gluttonous ways brought me to the verge of revisiting Green Pig’s tacos in a rather unsightly manner, I didn’t regret my decision to try El Chilango’s excellent taco. I haven’t been to their DC location at 11th and V St. NW, but I plan to.
All this taco talk is making me hungry . . . wonder if Super Tacos is open.