Generally, small corn tortillas topped with all manner of meats—al pastor pork, pig’s head, beef cheeks—and adorned with only lime wedges, cilantro, and chopped onion, maybe a little radish. You can usually grab salsa from a fixings bar.
Where to find them: Taqueria La Placita (5020 Edmonston Rd., Hyattsville).
Straight outta SoCal, this style of fish taco is made with crunchy beer-battered filets, shredded cabbage, lime, and a cool mayo-based sauce.
Where to find them: Fish Taco (Cabin John and two Bethesda locations).
The tortilla is a mere canvas to be loaded up with any whimsy (or drunk-food craving), from poutine to ramen to McDonald’s-style chicken nuggets.
Where to find them: Taco Bamba (Penn Quarter, Falls Church, Fairfax, Springfield, Vienna).
4. Farmers Market
You know the drill: seasonal, local, often vegetarian ingredients with handmade salsas and organic corn tortillas.
Where to find them: Chaia (3207 Grace St., NW; 615 I St., NW).
Also known as tacos al vapor, this Guadalajara-born snack is packed with various cuts of beef—often from the head—and then steamed so the meat gets extra-tender.
Where to find them: Tacos El Costalilla (7862 Richmond Hwy., Alexandria).
The favorite in Texas and New Mexico usually comes with scrambled eggs, cheese, salsa, and maybe chorizo.
Where to find them: Fox Loves Taco (716 Monroe St., NE).
Mad-scientist creations such as dehydrated bananas folded around foie gras.
Where to find them: Mirabelle (900 16th St., NW).
The LA food-truck favorite—with fillings such as kimchee, bulgogi, and gingery marinated chicken—has migrated east.
Where to find them: TaKorean (Metro Center, Navy Yard, Union Market).
When it comes to tortillas, this San Antonio style involves the fryer, not the griddle. The hot oil aerates the masa shells.
Where to find them: Chuy’s (Rockville, Annapolis, Fairfax, Springfield, Sterling, Woodbridge).
Many a suburban taco night was built around a hard-shell or flour tortilla stuffed with ground beef and piled with sour cream, cheese, and shredded lettuce.
Where to find them: Guapo’s (Georgetown, Tenleytown, Bethesda, Gaithersburg, Arlington, Fairfax).
11. Choco Tacos
Remember the ice-cream-truck classic? It’s the latest kiddie treat that’s been resurrected—and upscaled—on local menus.
Where to find them: Roy Boys (2108 Eighth St., NW).
This article appears in the May 2019 issue of Washingtonian.