This may be D.C.’s year of the taco. Four taquerias have opened in the District since April, and at least two more arrive in coming months.
Why the sudden reverence for what amounts to a little meat and onion tucked into a corn tortilla? There are several reasons. One is economics: In a down market, few foods taste so special and yet cost so little. Another is that chefs of Mexican heritage are overseeing many of these new restaurants, including Mama Chuy, El Chucho and Tacos El Chilango, whose owners descend from a long line of taco-makers. The growing variety of ethnic foods available in the city, in part thanks to the rise of food trucks, primed our palates for the portable Mexican staple.
Newcomers to the region have long gone to taquerias in the suburbs to find the food they grew up eating, like R&R Taqueria in Elkridge, Taqueria la Placita in Hyattsville and Tacos El Costalilla in Alexandria, but those options had been less common in D.C. So, to learn more about the District’s ascendant dish, we asked restaurateurs to explain what makes an authentic taco.
In the gallery above we profile the chefs behind the city’s newest taquerias and, with their help, break down the individual components that make up the perfect taco. Below, check out a comparison of the relative size and cost of local tacos, a taco glossary that will help you know what and how to order when you get to the front of the line, and where you can find a taco on the cheap every night of the week.
How much taco do you get for your money? We compare tortilla size and cost at the new taquerias.
Don’t know your asada from your al pastor? Our guide to how and what to order should help.
Seven days, seven deals: Here how to get a taco on the cheap every day of the week.