While the pandemic has shuttered spots like El Centro on 14th Street and Taco Bamba and Poca Madre in Penn Quarter, there are no signs our city’s Mex obsession is waning. Eight to check out:
2340 Wisconsin Ave., NW
Naomi Gallego’s unnamed Tex-Mex project inside Glover Park’s ghost food hall is slated to open in January. Gallego, the pastry chef who has started leaning savory (she created some of DC’s best Detroit pizza at sister restaurant Red Line) is planning gorditas filled with braised or grilled meats, tortilla soup, breakfast tacos, and freshly made chips and salsa.
1401 Pennsylvania Ave., SE
Red Apron chef/butcher Nathan Anda is behind this taco shop, one of the first concepts to open inside Capitol Hill’s new Roost food hall. On the shortlist of riffy options: bacon-cheeseburger queso, carnitas braised in orange soda, and “taco night in America” (aka crumbly seasoned beef topped with iceberg and served in crunchy shells). It’s open for carryout, but you have to order ahead of time. You can also get the full menu on the patio at Shelter, the neighboring beer garden.
Little Miner Taco
967 Rose Ave., N. Bethesda
At the Pike & Rose branch of this upstart taqueria, you’ll find suddenly-everywhere birria tacos—filled with stewy beef and served with traditional consommé for dipping—but also birria ramen, kimchee quesadillas, and bulgogi burritos. There’s already another location at the Savor 3807 food hall in Brentwood, plus a food truck.
Locals Tacos and Tequila
20789 Great Falls Plaza, Sterling
The former Mokomandy space is now home to this color-splashed shop, which offers a wide-ranging menu. There’s a birria taco (again!) with dipping broth, plus fold-ups of braised shortrib with pickled onion and queso fresco or fried shrimp with Sriracha mayo. On Tuesdays, there’s a half-price margarita special.
1324 14th St., NW
In December, the Logan Circle space that once housed B Too will become home to this mezcal bar and taco restaurant. At the helm will be Alam Mendez Florian, who also runs a well-regarded restaurant in Mexico City and has a hand in Old Town’s Urbano 116.
21305 Windmill Parc Dr., Sterling
Ever wondered what chicken tikka would taste like in taco form? In early November, when Conche owner Santosh Tiptur plans to open this Sterling taqueria and tapas dining room, you can find out. The tacos will lean creative—Tiptur wants to create spins on “popular regional foods”—while the Spanish small plates will be more by-the-book.
4000 Wilson Blvd., Arlington
Victor Albisu, the local granddaddy of the off-the-wall taco, has brought his always-fun taqueria to Ballston. (There are four other locations in Northern Virginia.) Expect his usual winning formula: a mix of straightforward street-style tacos and his own inventions, such as a tortilla stuffed with shrimp-and-chorizo larb…or a patty melt.
924 U St., NW
China Chilcano alums Teresa Padilla and Geraldine Mendoza are behind this popular, pandemic-born delivery service, which now has a home on U Street. Besides birria—and even trendier cheese-laden quesabirria—tacos, there are Puebla-style sandwiches and tlayudas, flat tortillas piled with carne asada or mushrooms.