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Tacos el Costalilla

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Down Richmond Highway, just past the big shopping center, there is a wonderful Taqueria called Tacos el Costalilla. I had four tacos and one sope. I had an al pastor, two carnitas and one Carnaza al Vapor. I have never heard of Tacos al Vapor, but it apparently is a style from Jalisco. Carnaza is beef. The people are very nice. The salsas are hot. They have the carrots with serrano chilis that I love. We were in taco heaven. The sopes were fantastic. You can get cabeza, lengua, tripa and buche' tacos, which I never order because I am not that kind of adventurous but it is always a good sign that they are the menu. If a Mexican place has one of the those items on the menu, or birria (which they also had) or rabbit (canejo) it is a sign that they are catering to Mexican and not American tastes. I will definitely be back, especially since the owner said he would make me some machaca. Unfortunately, my Southern Californian idea of machaca is not the same as his. But, if a chef will make you something special, you shouldn't say no.

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  1. Four tacos and a sopa. DUDE. That's a lot of food.

    Can you give more specifics on location. Richmond Hwy past the big shopping center is pretty f'n vague. I'm guessing just South of where Glebe empties to Rt 1, but you know what they say about assumptions.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Dennis S

      Sorry, it's in Fairfax, just past the Mt. Vernon Plaza/Hybla Valley shopping complex and just before you get to the Walmart. It's in a little strip mall. There is a sign. I will go back again, but there are other Mexican places in the area that I need to try first. This is the real deal Mexican food, taqueria style. They have ceviche, menudo, tortas and a few other items.

    2. Tacos El Costalilla
      7862 Richmond Highway, Alexandria, VA zip code
      (703) 704-9088

      This seems to be the same address as Guadalajara Tacos y Tortas, a place I've been to twice for excellent huaraches con birria. I guess Guadalajara probably closed...... their phone number is disconnected.

      It is a bit difficult to see from the road. It's at a big intersection in a small strip which faces north on the right as you drive south from Route 1. So it doesn't face Route 1.

      1. Awesome find. Two carnitas, two lengua for lunch. Love the self-serve fixins bar, so you can load your taco just the way you like it. And the pickled carrots/chiles/cauliflower give it just the right tang to compliment the meat. Most places I've tried the lengua, they finely dice/chop the tongue. Here, you get two whole slabs of moist, juicy meat. I washed mine down with a fresh, homemade cantaloupe "melon water."

        1 Reply
        1. re: monkeyrotica

          Next time try either the Sopes or the tacos al vapor.

        2. This sounds awesome. Thanks for the reports.

          1. I Try to eat here once a week if I can - and have a new favorite - The Tacos ARE excellent but for kicks I tried a chicken quesadilla - It blew me away! I need to go back on the weekend for posole.....

            3 Replies
            1. re: tommyskitchen

              Try the sopes.

              1. re: ChewFun

                I did today upon your rec - Delicious! Next time I'd eat it more quickly, got 1 pastor Sope, chix quesadilla, and Taco - But the crispness quickly faded - Next time It's an appetizer before the rest so it doesn't get soggy! Thanks...

                1. re: tommyskitchen

                  FYI - I have been very hesitant to try the Ceviche here for obvious reasons - But as I walked in yesterday at opening I saw the Chef eating it - So I ordered it - Boy, am I glad I did! For $2.50 I got a tostada with a fist-size portion of some really good shrimp ceviche - tasty and tangy, good lime and cilantro flavor. All in all, one of the best deals around.

            2. Carnaza al vapor is steamed cheek meat. Buche is from the jowl. I haven't been to that place since it changed ownership, I will make it a point to stop in and order the recs. I did recently have some really good tacos al pastor at Pilar's. If you ask for them on "tortilla fresca", they will actually pat out and make a fresh tortilla for you from scratch for your tacos. Takes a bit longer, but it is definitely worth it. If they are made beforehand they don't bend properly and break in half, they pretty much have to do them this way. You have to ask.

              8 Replies
              1. re: justaddwater

                Were is Pilar's?

                1. re: ChewFun

                  Pilar's is down the street from the Huntington Metro. It's been on my to-try list for a while. It just got bumped to the top.

                  http://www.menuism.com/restaurants/pi...

                  1. re: ChewFun

                    There was a time, that now seems eons ago, when Pilar's (which used to be on Telegraph Road) and Taco Lucas were the only Salvadoran/Mex places in South Alexandria. La Iguana shop (which is still on Route 1) was the only Central American market if you can believe that! I remember getting sheets of cassava there and brushing with butter and garlic for an appetizer dish that is very popular in Honduras. The cook at Pilar's is Guatemalan (Pilar is a Mayan ruin in Guatemala, but I think the owner is called Pilar) and they used to have some Guatemalan specialties that are no longer on the menu. Perhaps they will make some if you ask, I think one was a Enchilada Guatemalteca which is a handpatted tortilla deep-fried and topped with chopped beef and pico. They only have two types of taco there, the pastor and res, it is primarily Salvadoran. Don't get your hopes up too high, this is after all, just another SalMex dive dotting the landscape, though perhaps a tad better than most.

                    When I'm in that area I usually make a stop at the Bosnian market (Euro Foods Market 5900 N. Kings Hwy) nearby and if that interests you at all, the owner of Cosmopolitan recently told me a friend of his was going to open a European themed restaurant at the old Kyoto restaurant on Route 1, if he hasn't already.

                    1. re: justaddwater

                      Tying together three different subthreads in this conversation: I went by the Honduras Taco truck at the Bestway in Huntington again earlier this evening, but they were closed again, so then I went to Pilar's. I had forgotten how good the tacos al pastor are--and they're very good, especially with the tortillas frescas, which are just a smidge too thick for my tastes but still quite nice right off the griddle. The twist, though, was the yucca con chicharron that I ordered just for some variety: the yucca was fried perfectly, as was the chicharron (crisp, almost dry meat with just the right amount of fat remaining, so that with a little salsa it was just moist enough), and there was even a nice helping of curtido included. I think I might have written Pilar's off as a one-trick pony a little too soon. The other stuff I'd had there on previous trips was (other than the pupusas, which were fine but nothing special) mostly combo platters like the Plato Guatemalteca that justaddwater mentions, so I'm thinking maybe I need to poke around the a la carte Salvadoran parts of the menu a little more.

                      1. re: sweth

                        I don't think the Plato has the Enchilada Guatemalteca. This is a fried yellow corn meal tortilla like a huarache with chopped meat and pico toppings. This is something they used to make at their former location, but can probably make one up if you ask. Pilar's is approaching its second decade in the area (perhaps even exceeded it)--they were one of the first Salvadoran restaurants around. The only one I can think of that might be older is the Abi on Columbia Pike. They're doing something right.

                        -----
                        Abi Restaurant
                        5838 N Kings Hwy Ste B, Alexandria, VA 22303

                        1. re: justaddwater

                          There are many places that have been around forever that aren't necessarily of great quality; places can coast on reputation, location, or even catering to a specific niche. (I don't think Pilar's is doing that, but I always dislike arguments of the form "X is old and thus must be doing something right".)

                          FWIW, I did finally hit Honduras Taco when it was open. Vilma, the lady who makes the tacos, says that they're normally there 7 days a week all day (she said some days they get there at 8am and others at 9am, and they around 7pm most days), and seemed confused when I mentioned that every other time I've been there they've been closed. Not sure what the deal is with that. The tacos were very good; I had one each of beef, pork, and tongue (which isn't on the menu; she offered it to me because she was out of chicken). The meat was VERY good, although I do like the fresh larger tortillas like Pilar's has more than the usual double-tortilla that they use; the toppings were also good, including a pretty nice green salsa. I also had a baleada, a Honduran dish that's basically a wheat tortilla filled with refried beans, crema, queso fresco, and sometimes other stuff. I got an avocado baleada, since they didn't appear to have a "mixta" (w/ scrambled eggs), although I didn't yet know that there was off-menu stuff to be had--I'll have to check on that next time. The baleada was good, w/ a fresh tortilla (which took a while to make) but like most baleadas it needed some salsa (I threw on some Cholula when I got home). Total for 3 tacos + the baleada was $12; there were no prices visible anywhere, so I have no idea what the breakdown was.

                          On the whole, I'd say Honduras is worth visiting if you're in the area. And if it's open.

                          1. re: sweth

                            Oh, also: don't be confused if Vilma offers you a "thumbs" taco; apparently that's how she pronounces the English word for "lengua". When I asked, she verified by sticking her tongue out at me that I wasn't going to be getting a taco with any phalanges. :)

                  2. re: justaddwater

                    Just want to correct myself here before a wandering Mexican reads this and points this out. The correct term for where buche meat comes from is the "dewlap", the flap of meat hanging under a cow's head. Somewhat "jowlish", just a bit more south. Its rubbery and has no distinct taste I can discern.

                  3. This is an amazing find. I've only been there once, but I think it may be better than even Orale in its heyday. Carnaza was very good, but al pastor was just plain great. I can't wait to try the rest of the menu. The self-serve condiment bar is a nice touch, too. (And there's Coke Zero! Small favors!)

                    1. Guys, tacos like these can be had all up and down Route 1. Check out the Chicken House across Route 1 from this place for their soft tacos de res, twice as loaded and cheaper. Topped with a slice of avocado. The sopes de pastor, on the other hand, are a very nice find. Fluffy corn meal cake with spiced pork topping, the pastor was excellent. This place used to be special for having properly made huaraches, but these sopes are far superior, never seen them before. Thanks for letting the word out.

                      -----
                      Chicken House
                      7849 Richmond Hwy, Alexandria, VA 22306

                      24 Replies
                      1. re: justaddwater

                        Thanks for the tip. I have wanted to explore the area further.

                        1. re: ChewFun

                          Not a great deal in the area that is noteworthy. The latino market at the corner
                          there near your taco place has house fried pork rinds on weekends, not great, but where else can you get this? I picked up a 10 lb bag of hardwood lump charcoal here for $8 today, best price I have found, just make sure to feel the bag, some were all crushed up. The Mexicana Bakery a mile up Rt. 1 has a very good flan, rich and heavy. The Chicken Kabob and Curry House next to it has an excellent dish, the chicken kabob masalla, but most people will find the food here oily and a bit on the hot side. Interestingly, nothing on Rt 1 is to gringo tastes, that's not their clientele. Freshly made tacos at Pilar's like I mentioned earlier. Hollin Hall Bakery has excellent chocolate baked products and a very good pecan pie at the moment. There is no better place for seafood nearby than the Bestway Supermarket on Telegraph Road everything from octopus to whole grouper, head-on shrimp for a ridiculously low price. We may get a Korean market with a good seafood selection at the old Smitty's place near Woodlawn Drive, but this economy.... Cosmopolitan for their cevapcici; bureks if you call ahead for them. Add the sopes from Costalilla. From there, things get thin.

                          -----
                          Bestway Supermarket
                          5695 Telegraph Rd, Alexandria, VA

                          1. re: justaddwater

                            Bestway is my go-to grocery for vegetables and meat for bbq. Driving south on Route 1, I noticed there's a Bestway Coming Soon sign next to the Goodwill. They're apparently using the rear portion of the Goodwill.

                            Looking forward to the Korean market so I won't have to go all the way out to Fresh World/El Grande in Springfield for my kimchi/bulgogi fix.

                            1. re: monkeyrotica

                              Got things turned around a bit. The Bestway is going to the old Smitty's place and another El Eden is going behind the Goodwill. Costco is getting close to getting the MV Multiplex. I've had good experience with meat from there. No Korean market yet, but hopefully the Bestway will have a top notch seafood section like the Telegraph Road one.

                              Any tips/suggestions in the area? I forgot about Mamma's Kitchen for the gyros and Su Pollo for pollo. More variety needed, I keep getting the same things from the same places when not cooking at home...

                              -----
                              Mamma's Kitchen
                              7601 Fordson Rd, Alexandria, VA 22306

                              1. re: justaddwater

                                I don't know if the Roy Rogers near Ft. Belvoir carries them, but the Roy's in Belle Haven sells some damn good Roast Beef Sliders. This is real-deal roast beef, not the vacuum-packed, pressure treated, lunchmeat roast beef product at Arby's. Medium rare, salt, pepper, horseradish is all it needs. The Magic Wok two stores down is pretty pedestrian carryout, but their wings & mambo sauce are addictive; fried hard, crisp, and they rival many of the downtown purveyors. Everything I've tried at Primo Family Restaurant is pretty sad, but the gyros are solid and substantial. We end up driving to Atlantis for our Greek fix.

                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7209...

                                Have you tried the taco van in the Bestway parking lot? I've heard good things. Also, Wegman's is going to open shop near Belvoir, off Telegraph and Beulah. Probably 2012/2013.

                                -----
                                Magic Wok Cafe
                                1508 Belle View Blvd, Alexandria, VA 22307

                                1. re: monkeyrotica

                                  That Roys is my go to place for fried chicken. High crust to protein ratio, especially the wings. I'll give those Magic Wok wings a try next time I'm around there. The Chinese take outs all seem to carry wings, the takeout place further down, Hunan Manor has 6 wings for under $4, but they are not particularly special. I stopped going to Primos for gyros after Mamma's opened, but I agree, they are worthwhile and good value for the dollar. The Primo's custard is worthwhile, too. I've seen that truck at the BW, but never tried it. There is another truck on Route 1 that hangs out near the old fashioned washeteria or thereabouts near Beacon Hill. Haven't tried that either.

                                  -----
                                  Magic Wok Cafe
                                  1508 Belle View Blvd, Alexandria, VA 22307

                                  1. re: justaddwater

                                    Have you ever even seen Honduras Tacos (the Bestway truck) open? I live within walking distance of there, and would love a good taco truck to be so close, but I've literally never seen it not parked in the corner of the lot, all closed up. (I just popped over there right now to check on it, in fact; closed, as usual.)

                                    1. re: sweth

                                      I've seen the Honduras Taco truck open; they don't just park it there in the Bestway lot. It's usually open after 5pm during the week. Don't know about lunch.

                                      1. re: monkeyrotica

                                        Ah, I guess I'm just used to taco trucks being a breakfast or lunch thing, and I only ever go to Bestway in the mornings. I'll start wandering over there in the evenings and see what I can find.

                                2. re: justaddwater

                                  Good News - Bestway opened at the Smitty's location last Thursday - Went there yesterday, and everything looked good (although there were still workman - electricians and such - catching up) - It's nice and clean and looks nearly identical (although backwards) to the other location. I picked up some ginger and fresh jalapenos (the latter at 99 cents a lb), Queso Fresco, some chorizo, and some fajita beef - The meat staff is a mixture of latin and asian (korean?) men like at the Telegraph location. Yes, they even had the fun stuff - Pork Belly and such and even offal. The Seafood looked fresh, with head-on shrimp at $2.49/lb - When I was there they were putting putting out 2 bushels of live crabs - Didn't get the price on those.

                                  1. re: tommyskitchen

                                    Stopped by the new Bestway on the way back from lunch. Nice setup, wide aisles, and good selection, although many of the items skew what you'd find in your average Shoppers Food Warehouse. Picked up a four-pack of British Heinz Beans, and some Argentine blood sausage. LONG line at the seafood section for folks getting their fresh whole fish gutted and scaled. Pork shoulder's going for .99 cents a pound, so I'm going to be hitting this place regularly for bbqing pulled pork.

                                    1. re: tommyskitchen

                                      I'm there. I'm hoping this place will get me eating more fish.

                              2. re: ChewFun

                                If you ever come here (Chicken House), also try the costillas de res. Interestingly, my least favorite thing here is the chicken. Prices are ridiculously cheap.

                              3. re: justaddwater

                                Is Chicken House still open, by the way? I heard they closed, and Google Maps agrees.

                                -----
                                Chicken House
                                7849 Richmond Hwy, Alexandria, VA 22306

                                1. re: sweth

                                  CH was open as of a week ago. It sounds like you are closer to Pilar's, though. I highly recommend the pastor taco there made with "tortilla fresca", freshly patted out tortilla to order. You have to tell them you want it that way, sometimes they don't ask. They undercook it a bit so it will bend, but it is a great find, especially if you are close. The hot sauce is house made and genuinely hot, no canned material here. This is a Salvadoran/Guatemalan place primarily, but this taco is pretty damned good. Not "authentic" in the Mexican sense, just a loaded down taco that tastes great. Two would probably make a meal.

                                  1. re: justaddwater

                                    Pilar's is OK; the taco al pastor is by far the best item there, though--in a year of stopping by there occasionally on the way home, I've not had anything else there that was even as good as the tiny Salvadoran steam table carryout that used to be across the street from it.

                                    1. re: sweth

                                      The bakery/steam table place? Blancas or something like that? Grouchy service? You might like Chicken House, then, same type of place, but no baked goods or grouchy service!

                                      Pilar's used to have some very good pupusas and other specialties; pupusas not as good anymore.

                                      Here is a little tidbit for ya: many hispanic markets and businesses in the area are, in fact, Korean owned! Bestway Supermarkets, Chicken House (costillas de res have a real Korean flavor to them), many, many more! It's no accident that seafood section at the Bestway on Telegraph is suspiciously as good as those at the Korean markets...

                                      -----
                                      Chicken House
                                      7849 Richmond Hwy, Alexandria, VA 22306

                                  2. re: sweth

                                    Just got back from Chicken House. They're open weekdays at around 7am. Just had three tacos de res; lots of rich, charred, beefy flavor smothered in fresh pico de gallo. A ton of food and a steal at $6. Going to try their tacos de lengua next.

                                    -----
                                    Chicken House
                                    7849 Richmond Hwy, Alexandria, VA 22306

                                    1. re: monkeyrotica

                                      That place is much better than you'd think, isn't it? The three res tacos are not a ton, far less. In fact, I actually weighed the three tacos last time I got them and they came in at 1-1/2 lbs! That's a half a pound per taco! For $2! My kind of place...

                                      The costillas de res are good, as is the res lomo saltado, a bargain at around $8, about 2 lbs of food. Not the best in town, but easily the cheapest. I have not been for breakfast, but I think you can walk out of the place stuffed for under $3...

                                      1. re: justaddwater

                                        I'm impressed they're open for breakfast AT ALL. So many places on that stretch of Route 1 aren't open for breakfast; the ones that are are either fastfood or Denny's or just nasty. And I'm the sort who isn't really into eggs for breakfast. I'm more of a soup and sandwich sort, so I'm going to have to give their soups a try; looks like they do a beef rib and a chicken soup. I think they only do menudo on the weekend.

                                    2. re: sweth

                                      I think Chicken House has changed hands - There is a sign below "Chicken House" that says "Casa Blanca Deli" (I think) - Ate there yesterday, went for Tacos de res or pastor and all they had were chicken - they were very good (not as good as across the street). I have never been to the OLD chicken house so maybe someone else can chime in here....

                                      -----
                                      Chicken House
                                      7849 Richmond Hwy, Alexandria, VA 22306

                                      1. re: tommyskitchen

                                        It's the same place, they just changed the name. I do think the res tacos are the thing to get here, though I have not had the chicken (stuck on the res). If anything, 1/2lb of taco for $2. Unbelievable.

                                        1. re: justaddwater

                                          There was no Res on the menu and she said Chicken was the only option - Will have to go back and see what's up...My 3 Taco meal was $8

                                          1. re: tommyskitchen

                                            The soft res are $6 for 3 and the fried ones are $8 or so. It's possible you ran into someone sitting in for the regulars. I'll probably make it there sometime this weekend to check it out, been about a month since I've last been.

                                  3. I took a gander down here this last weekend. I got 3 tacos, one carnitas, one buche and one al pastor. The al pastor was the best of the three, but I found it under-seasoned and with bones in it. The buche (pig's esophagus) was bland and chewy (chewy I guess is the consistency normal for esophagus). The carnitas were so dried out it was difficult to bite through. The salsa bar had nothing but canned goods. Both salsa's were flat and flavorless. I am afraid I am going to have to put this on my restaurants other hounds love that I don't get (back to Bladensburg for me ;).

                                    23 Replies
                                    1. re: sekelmaan

                                      What are your Bladensburg recommendations? And what meals in particular?

                                      1. re: monkeyrotica

                                        La Fondita is my favorite. They have good tacos and a lamb soup that is just out of this world. Richer than any pozole I have ever tried. I also like La Placita. They had decent tacos there, al pastor, lengua, birria. Also on weekends there is a tamale truck in the parking lot that makes fresh tamales and grilled corn. Here is the thread on the area:

                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5714...

                                      2. re: sekelmaan

                                        Can't argue with the overall assessment of the place, but you walked out without trying the two best things here, the sope al pastor and the carnaza tacos.

                                        1. re: justaddwater

                                          I will try them. I am going to go back to try the pozole this weekend.

                                        2. re: sekelmaan

                                          By the way, buche is not necessarily pig's esophagus, except on gringo wikipedia. At Costalilla, buche is stomach. I asked. At Orale a while back I inquired and the cook placed his hand at throat level and moved it side to side like there was a flap there (like a double chin or "papada"), I'm guessing theirs was dewlap, but it could have been esophagus. Dewlap tacos exist, though. It can also be a combination of these. Spanish wikipedia describes it as a pouch that is part of the digestive system and stores food for later digestion. It communicates with the esofagus as does the stomach. No matter, it is always pretty crappy stuff.

                                          http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buche

                                          1. re: justaddwater

                                            Yeah. When I asked he pointed at his stomach also, but I did take the definition off gringopedia. Thanks for outting me ;p

                                            1. re: sekelmaan

                                              Are you sure it was the stomach he was pointing at? I did not list all the possible definitions I found...Just kidding, it was the stomach.

                                              I've had this carnaza before, but not as tender, the steaming makes it special. I did resent getting only about two teaspoons of the stuff on my smallish tortilla.

                                              1. re: justaddwater

                                                But the smallish taco is the style. Now if I can only find some Northern Mexican/Californian style Machaca. The owner of Costalilla offered to make it for me, but I think he is thinking of another Machaca. The one I am thinking of is dried beef that is fried up.

                                                1. re: ChewFun

                                                  I had the most amazing chicharron in Tucson recently. I would love to find that out here.

                                                  1. re: sekelmaan

                                                    El Compadre, market next to the taco place, and El Compadre II further down Rt. 1 usually have house fried pork rinds on weekends. They are not "amazing", but they aren't bad.

                                                    1. re: sekelmaan

                                                      The best 'chicharron' I've had in the DC area was at the Fairfax Inn, a Filipino diner in a medical building on Sleepy Hollow Rd at Seven Corners. However, because it is Filipino, I can't quite recall how it is listed on the menu. Aside from the regular American menu, they seem to have two different Filipino menus, one aimed at breakfast (though both share many of the same items). I think if you ask for the chicharron or describe it for them, they will know what you mean. However, the best thing they serve, and one of the best things you can eat anywhere, is the daing na bangus (marinated milk fish). This is in my personal list of top three foods you should know about but probably don't.

                                                      -----
                                                      Fairfax Inn Restaurant
                                                      2946 Sleepy Hollow Rd, Falls Church, VA 22044

                                                      1. re: sekelmaan

                                                        TECC does it pretty well, and I believe Caribbean Grill also - though it's been a few months since I've had this dish at either place.

                                                        -----
                                                        The Caribbean Grill
                                                        5183 Lee Hwy, Arlington, VA 22207

                                                        1. re: Dennis S

                                                          Interesting. I didn't realize they had it. I was there two nights ago. I will check it out later today maybe. Thanks. I actually really like their habanero wings.

                                                          1. re: sekelmaan

                                                            I *think* you're thinking Caribbean Breeze. I'm talking about Caribbean Grill, up on Lee Hwy. A hole in the wall at the corner end of a long string of holes-in-the-wall including La Jawab.

                                                            Cooked and served by a small group of generally older Caribbean women.

                                                            -----
                                                            Caribbean Breeze
                                                            4100 Fairfax Dr Lbby 1, Arlington, VA 22203

                                                            The Caribbean Grill
                                                            5183 Lee Hwy, Arlington, VA 22207

                                                            1. re: Dennis S

                                                              You're right. I was. I have always wondered about Grill. Seen it and drove past and went hmmm. Now I'll go in. thanks.

                                                              1. re: sekelmaan

                                                                The best item at Caribbean Grill is not on the menu: they will freshly saute spinach in garlic if you ask.

                                                                I don't like the process they use at CG for their chicken. They look like they have a pretty serious operation, but they cook all their chicken in advance and keep it tented under aluminum foil.

                                                                -----
                                                                The Caribbean Grill
                                                                5183 Lee Hwy, Arlington, VA 22207

                                                      2. re: ChewFun

                                                        I see now the purpose of the smaller tortilla, you can eat it standing up with one hand if you get it off a street cart. The smaller quantity of meat is probably also the style, so you can load it up with toppings, hadn't really thought that out.

                                                        I've never heard of machaca, but the stuffing for common taquitos sounds similar. It might also be called out on a menu as "carne seca" at non-Mexican places.

                                                        1. re: ChewFun

                                                          Tortilla Factory makes Machaca. They claim they serve Sonoran style food.

                                                          It's my favorite meat they serve. But in full disclosure, I'm not overly familiar with machaca in Cali/Mexico.

                                                          If you go, I really like the Tostado de Jefe with machaca.

                                                          http://www.thetortillafactory.com/men...

                                                          1. re: ChewFun

                                                            If you pursue having the cook at Costalilla make you up a machaca, ask him if he is going to use "carne seca." He can probably make machaca with a substitute meat like flank steamed or braised, shredded and fried, but it will most likely not be what you remember, the meat is probably key.

                                                            1. re: justaddwater

                                                              Yeah, the meat is key. It has to be carne seca or it isn't what I grew up on.

                                                              1. re: ChewFun

                                                                If he can come up with carne seca (who knows, maybe he has a source or a dehydrator), you know where to spread the word. Either way, he will know you can't be messed with.

                                                    2. re: sekelmaan

                                                      So far any buche I've had looks like valves and other 'parts' and is rubbery and fairly tasteless.

                                                      1. re: Steve

                                                        The guy who came up with the idea to call what is essentially an esophagus and/or stomach taco "buche" probably coined the term "palmetto bug"...

                                                    3. By the way, have you been to Taco Jalisco further down Rt 1? They are the only place I know of in the area that serve tortillas with fillings and have a fixings bar. Nothing there like the sopes, though. Across Rt. 1 from them is a Jalisco market which has a butcher that may be Mexican. Other real Mexican places include Orale and Mexicana Bakery, which has tacos also, it's not just a bakery.

                                                      1. Anyone tried the birria here yet? I haven't been there since it changed over, but Tacos Guadalajara was my go-to place for huaraches con birria, and I'm hesitant to head down there for some only to be disappointed.

                                                        1. The best Mexican food I've had in the DC area is La Mexicana Bakery & Taqueria. It's a little off the beaten path, but it's on Route 1 behind the Checkers and across the street from Safeway (not far from Lockheed Blvd). I urge you all to give it a try.

                                                          -----
                                                          La Mexicana
                                                          13016 Middlebrook Rd, Germantown, MD 20874

                                                          5 Replies
                                                          1. re: Greenman

                                                            They're about a five minute drive apart. You could easily try both.

                                                            1. re: Greenman

                                                              I will make it a point to get their tacos soon. I was there about 2 weeks ago and had a surprisingly good flan. Taco hounds should be aware that the place is a takeout, no seating.

                                                              1. re: Greenman

                                                                Could you please post the intersection or link a map? Thanks.

                                                                1. re: sekelmaan

                                                                  La Mexicana Bakery and Tacqueria is at 2907 Arlington Drive, Alexandria, VA. It's in a little mall near a 7-11.

                                                                  1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                    Thanks!

                                                              2. Went back to Tacos el Costalilla Saturday. Aaah, so good. I simplified my order by just getting al pastor, but sopes and tacos. I'm not brave enough to try the Seso.

                                                                1. Real carne seca was spotted at the meat counter today at the hispanic market at 8723 Cooper Road, a few miles south of El Costalilla. It might only be something they have for the weekend, like their pork rinds, tamales, etc.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: justaddwater

                                                                    Thanks. I will have to check it out. I never go down that far.

                                                                    1. re: ChewFun

                                                                      I just picked up a pound of the stuff at the market a few doors up from El Costalilla. These two markets are both El Compadres. Dried, thinly sliced, unseasoned. The butcher said to soak it before using to get the salt out, though it's not very salty at all. Now to figure out what to do with it. A pound is quite a bit, as it is thinly sliced.

                                                                  2. Tacos El Costalilla
                                                                    I just had a sope - al pastor wonderful and ahogada (I think it is called) a pork sandwich drenched in a spicy sauce - amazing. I have never had it anywhere else, and it was wonderful. Too much food, but I had to try both. This place is very friendly. Thank you for the recommendation even over a year later.

                                                                    8 Replies
                                                                    1. re: mscoffee1

                                                                      I will have to try their torta. The torta ahogada at La Mexicana Bakery and Tacqueria right up Route 1 is excellent. I think it's the baked in-house bread that makes it.

                                                                      http://www.yelp.com/biz/la-mexicana-b...

                                                                      1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                        I had both in the past week - The bread at the Bakery was indeed better, and the sauce was spicier. There, the filling was Pork (I think) but at Costalilla I saw and tasted what I thought were other meats And maybe an organ or two, I couldn't tell - I may have ordered something slightly different by mistake, but it was still good - The bread was a little tough, though, and the sauce not as flavorful as the Bakery's. I am trying to break out of my Taco/Sope "Rut" and try new things here - Next up, the "Camarones (sp? Shrimp) Cocktail - It should be good, the Ceviche is delicious....

                                                                        1. re: tommyskitchen

                                                                          Eating tacos and sopes can never be a rut. It's a goal.

                                                                          1. re: ChewFun

                                                                            Agreed!

                                                                            1. re: ChewFun

                                                                              LoL, but what about a bit of adventure??

                                                                              1. re: tommyskitchen

                                                                                Thus the over ordering - need both adventure and favorites.

                                                                              2. re: ChewFun

                                                                                *Like*

                                                                            2. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                              Finally, I got to have the torta ahogada at La Mexican Bakery as well as their sopes. It was also amazing - the bread still had some crunch even with the sauce and sopes were crunchy and wonderful. Really nice green sauce too. The owners are also great.
                                                                              Thank you. Great find.