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New Taco In Town - Taco Bamba (Falls Church)

MikeR Jun 22, 2013 05:03 AM

Operated by Victor Albisu, whose recent claim to fame is Del Campo in DC. Nothing fancy here, but there's more originality on the menu than your average taco joint. Order at the counter, take out or find a stool at the long "bar" along one side, sort of like TECC.

I had a couple of traditional tacos, a barbacoa and a carnitas. At two for $5 (one for $3) it's a good deal for a tasty soft taco. They stuff 'em pretty full, a little bigger than DC Taco, served properly on corn tortillas. The barbacoa was really flavorful, the carnitas kind of tame, but they have a couple of good sauces that spiked them up.

There must have been one large group in there when I came in (about 1 PM) because the place was packed with eaters and those waiting for their order, though there was no line for ordering at the time. They have a regular production line and it took less than 10 minutes to get my order. A few bites into my first taco and suddenly the place cleared out!

Taco Bamba is located in the Idylwood shopping center, just up Idylwood Road from the shopping center with the Falls Church Whole Foods, along the strip with the Idylwood Grill.


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  1. m
    Marty L. RE: MikeR Jun 22, 2013 09:59 AM

    Menu (http://tacobambarestaurant.com/menu/) looks very enticing -- and open every morning at 6:30 a.m.! (for real?)

    1 Reply
    1. re: Marty L.
      MikeR RE: Marty L. Jun 22, 2013 03:19 PM

      I didn't see the typical breakfast burrito on the menu, but I suppose they have something to compete with McDonald's a few blocks away.

    2. s
      Steve RE: MikeR Jun 22, 2013 06:50 PM

      They are not yet open at 6:30am, but maybe in a week or two. For now, they open at 11am.

      The blackboard menu is mouthwatering, but so far this place is more promising than good.

      So many items to order here, it's hard to know where to begin. 11 traditional tacos (or for an extra charge, the same toppings on sopes), 6 'house' tacos, a torta, tamales, wings, soup, and a few other items.

      I tried 4 tacos: 2 traditional and 2 house. The traditional ingredients are kept in steel compartments to be scooped out by the preps. They get dried out while they sit there. The house tacos seem more like they are 'cooked to order,' so I recommend starting with those.

      The pre-sliced 'al pastor' was carried out in a huge bin from the kitchen, so nothing freshly carved off a spit like at La Placita in Hyattsville. The pork is dried out and stringy, with the only juiciness coming from too many pineapple pieces, making it more a pineapple taco than a sauce which has pineapple as just one of the flavors.

      The cecina is supposed to be a salt-dried beef, but here it is disappointingly just a very thin beef, so not crispy like it should be. Not as good as the tacos de res at the taco truck at George Mason and Colombia Pike which are crispy.

      The house mushroom taco would have been very good if it wasn't drowned in chipotle sauce.

      The winner was the house 'el beso' taco which was small cubes of pork and tongue Hot, supple, fresh, and delicious.

      The tortillas are packaged from Florida. They don't seem to have the same corn flavor as at TECC.

      So many more things to try here. The torta sounds impressive, and I love creative chicken wings, so I'll be back to try those.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Steve
        Marty L. RE: Steve Jun 23, 2013 05:55 AM

        Four tacos and the tadic with stew on the same day, eh, Steve? We owe you big time for acting as our trusted emissary . . .

        1. re: Marty L.
          Steve RE: Marty L. Jun 23, 2013 06:39 AM

          Not on the same day..... I'm trying to maintain my girlish figure.

      2. m
        MikeR RE: MikeR Jun 23, 2013 06:49 PM

        Pardon me. It's off Pimmit Drive, not Idylwood Road.

        1. w
          wineo1957 RE: MikeR Aug 19, 2013 08:33 PM

          Sorry but I will take TECC any day. Cecina was dry and mealy. Not enough filling for the tortillas. Lengua was the same for of tongue as at R& R in Elkridge, completely devoid of the fat that makes lengua so good. The sweet bread taco had really good fried sweetbread pieces which, when eaten alone were good. But in the gloppy sauce, they disappeared.

          General comments... the tortillas were dry, chewy and crumbly. I use the same brand at home, so I know that this is not typical of the brand.

          Secondly, all the radish, lime, salsas etc come in little plastic cups even for eat in. Given how dry the tacos, each taco needed 3+ cups worth of additions and two of limes. There was a mountain of plastic where I ate which seems to be super wasteful.

          And the salsas were boring as can be, even the arbol was of little heat. This seems to be a place best suited for those who don't want the real deal of Mexican cooking.

          1. s
            Steve RE: MikeR Aug 20, 2013 05:54 AM

            I tried two more of the 'house' tacos: Black Pearl (fish, sauce made with squid ink) and the Bamba Ball (meatballs, salty). They were both good, but not better.

            I think this places is cheap enough to be worth exploring, but so far only the 'beso' (pork and beef tongue combo) is a keeper.

            1. s
              Steve RE: MikeR Oct 25, 2013 07:31 PM

              My third visit. I was not charmed at all. Oh, a nice nopal taco was refreshing, but the tacos here are served too cool. If you order three at a time, the third one will be downright cold. Even the second one will have all the juiciness drained from it.

              Fairly uninteresting were the tinga, barbacoa, carne asada, and the spicy shrimp. Tamales are nice, not great. Was here with two other Chowhounds and we were not thrilled.

              If you go here, the 'el beso' and the nopal are the best so far. I may have one more visit in me to try the burger or the tortas.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Steve
                comestibles RE: Steve Oct 26, 2013 09:14 AM

                I've had better luck than you since I didn't order the same things. Next time try the sweetbreads, birria and tripa tacos. Also, there was posole last weekend that was good. If not offered, ask for the habanero sauce behind the counter to go with the posole. The sope I had wasn't bad, but the fried tortilla on the bottom was so hard I couldn't cut it with the plastic knife.

                1. re: Steve
                  elhuevogrande RE: Steve Oct 27, 2013 04:49 AM

                  I want to like this place so much, but I have the same problems. Cold tacos are not good eats. I enjoyed the sweetbreads, but the carne asada and al pastor were a little :(

                2. w
                  Worldwide Diner RE: MikeR Oct 27, 2013 05:20 AM

                  I've been to most of the lauded taquerias in the DC area and didn't find any to be consistently better than the others. I suspect that's because the cooks are a menagerie of minimal wage workers rather than the owner who has a vested interest in quality.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Worldwide Diner
                    Steve RE: Worldwide Diner Oct 27, 2013 06:59 AM

                    Generalizations and conjecture are what trips up a lot of people. I suppose you think that in LA (or Mexico) tacquerias are rolling in dough - or should I say masa?

                    My recent visits to El Charrito Caminante for the goat and the chorizo and to R&R for the tripa, al pastor, and the lengua show it is possible to find very delicious tacos in this area.

                    And that's what Chowhound is all about.

                    1. re: Steve
                      Worldwide Diner RE: Steve Oct 27, 2013 08:49 AM

                      My point is that no place seems to do it consistently. I think in LA and Mexico you have more owner operators, which improves quality and consistency.

                      1. re: Worldwide Diner
                        Dennis S RE: Worldwide Diner Oct 27, 2013 10:51 AM

                        TECC is fully family run. Jose runs the counter, his Mom works the grill and his Dad is around providing support as well. And I find his offerings consistent.

                        1. re: Worldwide Diner
                          Steve RE: Worldwide Diner Oct 27, 2013 03:43 PM

                          Why do I get the feeling that this is pure conjecture on your part? Are you familiar with how taquerias are operated in LA vs DC? How about the taco trucks? Is the management any different between the two cities?

                          1. re: Steve
                            Worldwide Diner RE: Steve Oct 27, 2013 06:31 PM

                            I'm just making wild ass guesses.

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