Chef Victor Albisu’s popular Northern Virginia Taco Bamba chain is planning its first expansion into Maryland. A 2,766-square-foot restaurant, opening in Rockville this spring, will be designed by Swatchroom’s Maggie O’Neill (you may recognize her work at Brasserie Liberte, Hank’s Oyster Bar, and beyond). The Congressional Plaza restaurant will be the largest of all six fast-casual locations, with both indoor and patio seating.
Albisu, who is of Cuban and Peruvian descent, opened the first Taco Bamba near his family’s Falls Church grocery in 2013. Since then, the modern all-day taqueria has expanded locally, and menus have lengthened to include breakfast and a robust bar program. Similar to the other locations, the Rockville restaurant will have menu items that nod to its location from chefs Tom Hall and Tim Raymond (both Maryland natives), and Faiz Ally (ex-Poca Madre). There, look for items like a crabcake taco garnished with slaw and mini fries. There is also a Chinese-style fried fish taco—a nod to Rockville’s Chinatown—and duck carnitas. They join the regular lineup of breakfast tacos, traditional street tacos, nachos, quesadillas, sandwiches, and more.
Rockville will be the second Taco Bamba location to have opened during the pandemic; a Ballston shop debuted in August. By spring, Albisu hopes he can reinstitute some features from normal times, such as an active bar for Amin Seddiq’s creative margaritas, frozen drinks, and Mexican-inspired cocktails.
Albisu closed his only DC restaurants, Taco Bamba Penn Quarter and the finer dining Poca Madre, in March. He has no current plans to open another concept in the District, but Albisu is a never-say-never kind of chef.
“These days have been a real education about living in the moment,” Albisu says. “Whatever opportunities come, I’ll make those decisions,” he says. “I want to be the best version of what we are today, and hopefully that’ll bring opportunities.”