Photos: Impala Cantina y Taqueria pop-up at Toki Underground

February 19, 2013

After serving grilled corn streetside at September's H Street Festival and turning out tacos on Tuesdays at the Pug, the itinerant Impala Cantina y Taqueria finally gave guests a better taste of what's ahead at Sunday's pop-up at Toki Underground.


Twenty guests each paid $40 for the Impala Cantina pop-up at Toki Underground on Sunday. (Photos by Lavanya Ramanathan/The Washington Post)

After two years of planning, the owners of the Mexican restaurant at 1358 H St. NE now say the sprawling, three-story space will open in May. The multi-course dinner, however, suggested an operation that's quite close to its goal. Chef Marcus Donovan's tacos featured made-in-house tortillas; his salads were spiked with papaya and a hint of mint; the empanadas oozed sweet guava; and the micheladas were ringed with chili-lime salt. All of these culinary touches were inspired by co-owner Troy Hickman's Mexican heritage and weeks of research conducted south of the border.

The pair of tequilas served were nice, but it was a little victory that diners scored a taste of the cardamom-scented amaro Fernet-Vallet, the Mexican cousin to Fernet-Branca that's about to make cocktail heads across the country hyperventilate.

If you want to attend the next Impala pop-up, keep your eyes on the Impala Facebook page; another event is in the works for March 17.


The tart michelada is made with beer, tomato and a chili-lime salt rim. (Lavanya Ramanathan/The Washington Post)

A housemade corn tortilla stuffed with pickled vegetables, with a blanco tequila from Tequila ArteNOM.

Co-owner George Grau, center, and Marcus Donovan, left,  of Impala Cantina y Taqueria, manned the kitchen.

Guava-filled empanadas with lime crema, accompanied by chocolate abuelita (Mexican hot chocolate that riffs on Nestle's popular Abuelita brand) and a sip of cardamom-scented Fernet-Vallet.

Related stories from the Going Out Guide:

 Taco Underground: Toki folks pop up on H Street NE

• Photos: D.C.'s Taco Invasion

• A brief history of H Street NE

Lavanya Ramanathan is a features reporter for Style.
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