Food

Cheap Eats 2008: Taqueria Nacional

Why go: James Beard Award–winning chef Ann Cashion—the woman behind the fancier Johnny’s Half Shell next door—has joined the upscale downscale trend, putting well-sourced meats and veggies in the service of humble taqueria fare. Hit the salsa bar, which offers three ways to punch up the flavor of your tacos.

What to get: Tacos filled with chunks of beef or smoky, shredded-pork carnitas, each topped with chopped onion and cilantro; batter-fried fish tacos with crunchy cabbage slaw and a slightly sweet crema salsa fresca; aguas frescas, cool and refreshing drinks that come in such flavors as sweet mango-orange or summery watermelon.

Best for: Takeout—there are no seats inside and only eight outdoors. Pick up a couple of tacos for a picnic in a nearby park or before hopping a train at Union Station.

Insider tip: Lovers of horchata, the almondy milk drink that’s a staple of most taquerias, will appreciate the version here made in the Spanish style with chufa nuts instead of ground rice and light on the cinnamon.

See all Cheap Eats 2008 restaurants  

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Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.

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