Iron Chef Jose Garces Launches a Baja-Taco Ghost Kitchen in Arlington

Buena Onda starts delivering fish tacos and guacamole to the DC-area on Friday, September 24.

Buena Onda from chef Jose Garces opens a taco ghost kitchen in Arlington. Photograph by Michael Persico

Philadelphia-based Iron Chef alum Jose Garces is returning to DC with a delivery-only taco ghost kitchen, Buena Onda. The Baja-inspired taqueria, an offshoot of his brick-and-mortar Philly shop, will start running grilled fish tacos, guac, and “buena bowls” on Friday, September 24 from an Arlington kitchen. Availability areas will vary by service—it’ll be on DoorDash, Caviar, and Uber Eats for delivery between 11 AM and 8 PM, Tuesday through Sunday.

Chef Jose Garces. Photograph by Martin Bunday

This is Garces’s fourth ghost kitchen concept; he launched his other pandemic-friendly deliveries in Philly. In Washington, the James Beard winner teamed up with DC “performance nutrition” company SuperFd, which uses local and organic ingredients to cater and design meals for athletes and teams (clients include the Caps and Washington Spirit). Garces takes a similarly sustainable approach to the seafood and ingredients for Buena Onda.

The opening menu includes homemade chips and salsa or guacamole to start. Sustainable seafood tacos—grilled fish or shrimp—come with a tequila-lime glaze, chipotle remoulade, avocado, and red cabbage slaw on homemade flour tortillas. Additional tacos include adobo chicken, shrimp-and-chorizo, or short rib; similar proteins come in bowl form with rice, beans, veggies, and salsas.

A Buena Onda bowl with tequlia-glazed shrimp. Photograph by Michael Persico

This isn’t Garces’s first foray into DC. The prolific restaurateur ran upscale Argentinian grill, Rural Society, in a luxury downtown hotel for three years before it closed in 2017. At one point he was poised for a big area expansion, with plans for a Union Market-adjacent food hall (what is now La Cosecha) and an outpost of Philly’s Village Whiskey in Blagden Alley. But in 2018, Garces Restaurant Group declared bankruptcy and sold most of its restaurants to Ballard Brands, with which it now works in partnership.

Washington will have the first virtual-only Buena Onda restaurant, and other ghost kitchens are planned for Florida, New York, and Massachusetts. Representatives say Garces is also scouting brick-and-mortar locations for Buena Onda in DC.

Buena Onda

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.