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Mar 17, 2007 06:03 PM

Best Tacos In DC?

Hi all,

I'm looking for the best Taqueria in DC proper. Any style would be great, but the classic mexican street vendor style would be fantastic. Also, as strange as this sounds, are there any asian/mexican restraunts like fresca tortilla or happy taco in NYC. I used to go to these places all the time when I lived in NYC and am seriously missing them.


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  1. In my opinion, the closest thing you'll find is Taqueria Poblano which has locations in Alexandria (Del Ray), Arlington, and a new one in McClean. They normally fry their tacos, but you can order them soft shell which would be closest to a street vendor taco. They have a great shredded beef taco, use the awesome white mexican cheese and a great pico salsa.

    8 Replies
    1. re: DC Gal

      There's a new TP opening in McLean? Whereabouts? BTW, frying the taco shell is how it's done in Southern California - hence the title on the menu: "LA Style Crispy Taco."

      1. re: DC Taco

        odd. I lived in California most of my life and found that the double-corn soft tortilla taco was the mainstay. perhaps it's a regional thing? hard shell tacos are available, but I usually attribute them to Americanized mexican places. pepito's is the closest I've found so far. see pic.

        1. re: DC Taco

          Frying the shell is certainly not the standard in Southern California, but its not that uncommon either...occasionally found in the more "Americanized" places serving "southern california style mexican food." I even had some tacos like this in Northern Baja. The places I have been throughout southern CA run by Mexican folks and catering to Mexican folks almost exclusively use the traditional pair of soft corn tortillas for their tacos. Both are yummy IMHO.

          1. re: Lowbar

            Maybe I need to clarify. To me, a Southern California fried, hard taco shell is not the hard shell that you get at taco bell or at any of the Mexican restaurants around here. Rather, it's a tortilla that has been quickly dipped in oil (I think) to render it cripsy/chewy. Taqueria is as close as I've found around here, but I think their shells are too hard most of the time. Certainly, many taco shops offer the double soft tortilla (what I think of as tacos al pastor) - but the majority of tacos that I ate in and around LA were crispy/chewy.

            I grew up in Manhattan Beach in the 70s and 80s and this is what I lived on (when I wasn't eating double doubles). Next time your heading out to LA I suggest stopping by Titos Tacos, in Culver City, El Sombrero No.2 (No.1 burned down a few months ago - horrors!) or El Tarasco in Manhattan Beach, Leo's in Hawthorne, or the road side shack between Rosarito and Ensanada where I ate the best taco of my life on a surf trip in '92. Happy taco hunting!

            1. re: DC Taco

              Yeah, I assumed you were talking about the fried taco shellls like those at Taqueria Poblano. Like I said, I saw these at various places in Southern California (spent most of my time in SD rather than LA though), but more often than not the places I was going had the traditional soft corn tortillas for tacos. It is a matter of personal preference, I tended to go for the more traditional mexican-style places. For example, Tito's is definitely extremely wouldn't be described as authentic or traditional in mexico but it is an institution out there in LA. That's one of the reasons its so hard to give people advice on where to get the best "real" tacos...everyone's ideal "real" taco is dependent on what they grew up loving. Obviously what you get in SoCal will be different from what you get in Texas which will be different from what you get in Baja which will be different form what you get in Oaxaca.

              But, to make a long story short for the OP, Tacqueria Poblano is definitely the best place I know of around here to get the Tito's style taco DCTaco describes :)

              I haven't been to the other places you mention but will try them on my next visit. Interestingly enough the place where I had a similar fried taco shell in Baja, as mentioned above, was also on a random stop between TJ and Ensenada. I wonder if it was the same place by some small chance.

              1. re: Lowbar

                Great post Lowbar. I completely agree. Tacos can be like asian dumplings, or grinders/subs - everyone has a nostalgic need for that one specific type they grew up on. I guess that's why I latch on to the tacos at Taqueria. Now, if I could just get them to throw the carnitas in the fryer just before bringing them out to the table. : )

              2. re: DC Taco

                DC Taco, we probably know each other. I grew up in Hermosa Beach in the 70s and 80s and went to Costa. Years ago I was a big fan of El Tarasco, but the last time I was there there was too much quantity and too little quality. There's a taqueria on Artesia (used to be Pizza Time) across near the Galleria called La Cueva that is awesome. The taco scene in L.A. has come a long way since our day and places like Rosas in Hermosa.

                I like that particular cripsy/chewy taco style. Also, I've never seen Machaca here.

          2. re: DC Gal

            I just got back from a lunch with colleagues at the Taqueria Poblano in Arlington. I got a green chili pork burrito, which I would characterize as...ok. Nothing off-putting, but rather bland. The two salsas on the table didn't add much either.

            One of my colleagues got three fish tacos, which looked pretty good, but for $2.95 each I think I'd still be eating a lot of chips and salsa (which were pretty good).

          3. Taqueria Tres Reyes in Hyattsville is my favorite. The stewed pork is the real deal, though they also have barbacoa, tripe, etc.

            1. Taqueria Distrito Federal in Columbia Heights. A seriously underrated place, with a very friendly owner.

              1. I second Taqueria Tres Reyes and Distrito Federal. There is also El Charrito Caminante in Virginia. You need a car to get to all of these places, except for Distrito Federal. Oh, and Pepitos in Adams Morgan. Hey, Tres Reyes in Riverdale is Numero II. Where is the original?

                3 Replies
                1. re: ChewFun

                  Pepito's in AM is also number II - number I is in Gaithersburg.

                  Also, there are taco trucks around, especially in Arlington though they are in all surrounding counties, I'm pretty sure. Jamie D had a good list of the Arlington ones. The best was the one that became ECC.

                  Also in Arlington, very worth while is the place on Columbia Pike near Walter Reed, in the parking lot of the CVS.

                  1. re: ChewFun

                    There's a TTR in Beltway Plaza Mall (Greenbelt). I don't know if it's the original. The one on Kenilworth is significantly better, in my experience. If you're up near Beltway Plaza go to Costa Alegre instead; it is as good as anything in Riverdale.

                    1. re: ChewFun

                      Most do not need a car to get to Taqueria El Charrito Caminante...approx half a mile walk from Clarendon metro...down Highland St, left on Washington Blvd, TECC is on your right just past Pershing.

                    2. another vote for distrito're right CMACDC the owner is awesome. pepitos II in AM is also good, and there is a truck usually parked on columbia and mozart place (el charro?) that has pretty good tacos. but of the three, distrito federal is the best. good horchata too.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: looj

                        Luis is the man. If you're in the Heights, he will personally deliver to you, although it's much more fun to eat in and bs with him. Still, he told me one time that he'd even swing by the liquor store and pick me up a sixer (added to the bill, obviously). Haven't taken him up on that one. Oh, and their goat barbacoa is delicious.