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All We Can Eat
Posted at 03:45 PM ET, 11/05/2012

District Taco to open on Capitol Hill early next year

District Taco looks to open its third location in the former Yes! Organic Market on Pennsylvania Avenue SE. (Osiris Hoil/District Taco)
Six months after they opened their first storefront in the city that serves as the taqueria’s namesake, District Taco owners Osiris Hoil and Marc Wallace have signed a lease for a second Washington location.

District Taco plans to open its latest operation in the former Yes! Organic Market at 656 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. The owners are aiming for a January/February launch date on their third brick-and-mortar location, following their original taqueria in Arlington and their D.C. debut on F Street NW.

“Capitol Hill is just an area we really want to be in,” Wallace told All We Can Eat. “To be honest, we focused on Capitol Hill” almost exclusively for the next location. Wallace says District Taco has other “irons in the fire” for possible locations.

“We don’t have a number” in mind for total locations, Hoil adds. “What we do have is a passion for it. . . . If we see that our restaurants are working, we’ll go for the fourth one. If we see that the fourth one is working, we’ll go for the fifth one. And on and on.”

“One taco at a time,” Hoil says, “and one restaurant at a time.”

The owners must completely gut and rebuild the former grocery store space to accommodate their taqueria. (Osiris Hoil/District Taco)
The 3,100 square-foot space on Pennsylvania Avenue SE will require a whole new build out, given the spot previously had no kitchen or other restaurant amenities. Like with District Taco’s F Street location, Wallace and Hoil will work with the Washington-based design group, CORE, to create the interiors for the new 75-seat taqueria. In keeping with the owners’ vision of bringing their taco stand indoors — District Taco started as a humble cart on the streets of Rosslyn — the Capitol Hill location also will feature an open kitchen where cooks prepare each order.

“The decor will be very much the same as our other two locations,” Wallace says. “Because it’s a wide open space with nothing existing in there. . . we can implement the design we always hoped for, with the proper customer flow.”

District Taco is applying for alcohol permits for its Washington stores to align them with the Arlington location, which serves beer. (The Arlington spot used to offer wine as well, but found it didn’t sell.)

With three storefronts in its future and a cart still in operation, does District Taco imagine a day when it will make its own fresh tortillas for all its outlets?

In short, no, says Hoil. And here’s why: Each restaurant serves 600 people a day, he notes. “If I run out of tortillas, I’ll be in big trouble, and I can’t do that. We have to be very consistent, and the only way I can do it is to look for [reliable] suppliers.”

By the way, Hoil says District Taco’s corn (not flour) tortillas are similar to the ones he ate while growing up in the Yucatan region of Mexico: thin, flavorful rounds prepared in the traditional nixtamalization process that includes wood ash. They have the right flavor, Hoil says.

What’s more, he adds, “we get deliveries every day.”

Further reading:

* District Taco will finally live up to its name this spring

* District Taco review

By  |  03:45 PM ET, 11/05/2012

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