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New Taco In Town - Taco Bamba (Falls Church)

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  • 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.

http://tacobambarestaurant.com/

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  1. 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.

      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. 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

        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.

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

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

        1. 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. 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. 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

                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

                  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. 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

                    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

                      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

                        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

                          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

                            I'm just making wild ass guesses.

                    2. It's been awhile since I lasted visited Bamba. I went with the usual - carne asada, carnitas, lengua, and fish (Black Pearl). Today they were excellent, for the most part. The fish was crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, and I enjoyed the accompanying coleslaw and blacka aioli. I just wish the fish isn't 2/3 the size of the tortilla (but at $4, maybe I shouldn't bitch). The lengua and carnitas were fantastic today - both very tender and well seasoned. The carne asada had good flavor but it wasn't the most tender steak - still much better than the Chipotle taco I had last week. 3 regular tacos plus a drink is $10. Lunch was $14, and I am stuffed.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Worldwide Diner

                        Was back after a long hiatus. Once again, thought it was by far the best taqueria in the area. (This might be virtually the only place on which Steve and I disagree.) The black pearl, the new pulpo taco, the corn, and the posole . . . all delicious.

                        1. re: MartyL

                          I haven't given up on it completely. I'll try the posole. If there is a torta or hamburger, I might try that sometime too.

                      2. Tried this place recently. I loved the grilled corn (elote). That was delicious. but I'd say Tacos El Costalilla and La Mexicana Bakery in Alexandria, as well as a few places in Manassas are better in terms of meats. I mean, with a taquería it's really all about the meat when it comes down to it. I mean, fresh hand made tortillas are awesome, but I have had plenty of great tacos on outsourced tortillas. But they have good options for vegetarians and also they have some cool 'modern concept' hipster tacos which we have a lot of in my hometown of Austin, so I was happy to see that on the menu---sometimes the hipster tacos can surprise you with unique flavor combos that really work well together. I had a chicken taco arabe, which is cool bc that is traditionally made of pork, which I don't eat. It was okay, but nothing must-try. (Actually it is traditionally made of lamb because it was brought by Lebanese immigrants to MX who introduced shawarma/meat on a revolving standing spit...but it evolved into being mainly available in pork in MX.) Also, no lard in the beans, and vegetarian tamales available. I would give it 3.5 stars overall for the general meal based on my daughters' and my tacos, but 5 stars for the corn itself. My lower rating is cuz the meats were dried out. I like them moist and greasy in the right way. Even the birria I ordered was dry. And my daughter's carne asada taco was tough and with no seasoning or smokiness to it. Good carne asada is heaven, bad carne asada is just tough squiggles of meat. I liked the TnT taco, though (tongue and tripe). It wasn't was good as those other places I mention above, but it was a good taco. The tripa wasn't just fried, but was also seasoned, and the tongue was good and soft. Worth exploring more, though. I liked their orange salsa. I presume it's habanero salsa.