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Taco Bamba, a Virginia-Based Taco Chain in Several Area Locations

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Victor Albisu's Taco Bamba opened yesterday in Falls Church/Tysons.

It was a rough opening day. When the wife and I arrived at about 7PM the air conditioning was not working and their expediter was doing double duty dealing with the AC techs.  We tried six tacos between us, Lengua, Tripas, Suadera and Pastor. All of the fillings were excellent, especially the tripe. The Pastor was not made on a rotating spit and suffered for not being quite crispy enough on the exterior. The flavorings on all the other meats were excellent, better than anything I have had in DC. The house made salsas that were served with the tacos were also excellent. We did not try the tamales, but if they are as good as the ones sold in his mother's store next door, then they are very good.

The biggest disappointment were the tortillas. They were flour instead of corn and were not house made. My wife, the Arizonan,  seeing the packaged soft tacos opted for the crispy tacos which were made from masa and they worked better than the soft flour ones. For me, the result was like having great pastrami on wonder bread. I hope they get a better supplier for the tortillas. I also prefer to dress my own tacos with, depending on the type of taco, cabbage, raddish, cilantro, onion or peppers. The tacos came pre-dressed though they did have small cups of diced raddish available.

With opening night jitters, we ended up missing part of our order, but that is par for the course for any opening night.

I am going to work my way down the menu and give them a chance to work out the kinks. As a former Miami resident, I am looking forward to trying their Torta Cubana and I hope they take a shot at another MIami favorite I miss Lechon (whole roasted pig). All things considered, I am very happy Victor Albisu has saved me a trip to Maryland to get a taco

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Very excited to try Taco Bamba, and will likely be doing so this weekend. That said, it leads me to a question, not specifically targeted at Taco Bamba: (Don...feel free to move if you don't think this belongs here)

Why don't more taquerias in our area put more thought into the tortillas? Using packaged tortillas is OK, but that's it. It's just "OK". Even if the fillings are incredible, the tortillas are merely "OK." It would be nice to have delicious tacos that were delicious all the way through, including the tortilla.

Many of us here on the East Coast have never had fresh, handmade tortillas from fresh masa. Sure, we've had stale-tasting maseca tortillas, but not ones made from fresh masa. It seems to me that if a taqueria went out of their way to make fresh masa tortillas, and emphasized this point with the press ("the only taqueria in the area with fresh, handmade masa tortillas"), they would be all the more successful. And they would put out a better product.

Is it simply too costly, in terms of actual monetary costs and labor costs? Does it take too much time and effort? We do have a company in Maryland that produces fresh masa on a daily basis; why don't more local businesses patronize them? The only one I'm aware of is Oyamel, and that is a bit too high-end to be a regular, casual (albeit high-quality) taqueria.

Just something I've been curious about.

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Their website said traditional tacos are $3 each, 3 for $8 and 4 for $9. I was a little annoyed when I was initially charged $12 for 4 tacos. The manager said the website is wrong, but he gave me $3 back without arguing. So I'm not sure how much 4 tacos would cost in the future.

I don't live far from Taco Bamba but I had no idea where it is so I googled it. From the map, its location could be in the shopping center with Whole Foods. It's actually in a small shopping center behind the Whole Foods shopping center.

There are a couple of counters with stools but dine-in space is very limited, and they don't serve alcohol. Frankly, the food wasn't good enough to warrant me going back. The meats (I had asada, barbacoa, lengua, and suadero) were generally dry and under seasoned (the suadero was the only one that had enough salt). The meat was plentiful though, either that or my stomach shrunk. I did not finish all 4 tacos (even after discarding a layer of tortilla after eating the first taco).

For a taste of authentic tacos around this area, I rather go to Ricos Tacos Moya II in Fairfax, where I can get table service, order an ice cold cerveza, have $2.25 tacos and a bowl of menudo. While Ricos Tacos Moya may not be better than Taco Bamba, I can say that Alegria and Fuego are better, but also more expensive.

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I went back to Taco Bamba this weekend and found it much improved from the opening night problems. It was almost empty on Sat afternoon, which may have also helped. This time when I ordered, I asked if I could have a masa tortilla. The woman taking the order said yes, I could have either masa or flour tortillas, but I think the default is flour.

I ordered a lengua and a tripas taco. The tripas was cooked to order and the line cook asked me if I wanted them crispy as she put the order of pre-blanched tripe into the deep fryer. Both tacos were filled to overflowing with meat and both were dressed with just a bit of cilantro.  Both were very good.

My earlier comments stand in terms of tortillas. This place would be wonderful, instead of just very good,  if they had house made tortillas. I would also prefer a wider selection of traditional things to dress my tacos with. The salsas remain superb. I will return and see if they progress from very good to wonderful.

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Very excited to try Taco Bamba, and will likely be doing so this weekend.  That said, it leads me to a question, not specifically targeted at Taco Bamba:  (Don...feel free to move if you don't think this belongs here)

Why don't more taquerias in our area put more thought into the tortillas?  Using packaged tortillas is OK, but that's it.  It's just "OK".  Even if the fillings are incredible, the tortillas are merely "OK."  It would be nice to have delicious tacos that were delicious all the way through, including the tortilla.

Many of us here on the East Coast have never had fresh, handmade tortillas from fresh masa. Sure, we've had stale-tasting maseca tortillas, but not ones made from fresh masa. It seems to me that if a taqueria went out of their way to make fresh masa tortillas, and emphasized this point with the press ("the only taqueria in the area with fresh, handmade masa tortillas"), they would be all the more successful.  And they would put out a better product.

Is it simply too costly, in terms of actual monetary costs and labor costs?  Does it take too much time and effort?  We do have a company in Maryland that produces fresh masa on a daily basis; why don't more local businesses patronize them?  The only one I'm aware of is Oyamel, and that is a bit too high-end to be a regular, casual (albeit high-quality) taqueria.

Just something I've been curious about.

You didn't include the fact that fresh masa from Moctec is not expensive. But, they don't deliver, AFAIK. Fresh masa only lasts a couple of days in the refrigerator before it starts to get sour. So someone would have to drive to Landover, MD several times a week. For a taco stand in Falls church, that might just be too much to ask.

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You didn't include the fact that fresh masa from Moctec is not expensive. But, they don't deliver, AFAIK. Fresh masa only lasts a couple of days in the refrigerator before it starts to get sour. So someone would have to drive to Landover, MD several times a week. For a taco stand in Falls church, that might just be too much to ask.

Actually, now that you mention it....I called over there 2 or 3 weeks ago to double check their hours, and the woman I spoke with did say that they could deliver. I mentioned I was in Virginia and that did not seem to be an issue.

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We had the Chorizo taco, Stewed Chicken taco, Carnitas sope, Black Pearl taco, and guac and chips. Everything was amazing. The highlights of this spectacular meal were the chorizo taco and the Carnitas sope. The chorizo is cut up into little bit-sizes and generously doled out onto the (not-house-made) totillas. The sope is a meal unto itself, including a large portion of pork, beans, and other toppings. This place is definitely worth putting in the regular rotation.

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Finally made it here. My opinion: best tacos in DC. We had sweetbreads, skirt steak and chorizo, lengua (beef and pork), spicy mushroom tacos and a fluffy pork tamal. All were excellent. Grilled avocado guacamole lacked flavor--no garlic, not enough onion or lime, and very cold--the container taken out of the refrigerator and handed to us. And for me the big missing element here is beans. None on the menu. We are definitely going back soon. We want to try sopes next time. Hooray!

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Finally made it here. My opinion: best tacos in DC. We had sweetbreads, skirt steak and chorizo, lengua (beef and pork), spicy mushroom tacos and a fluffy pork tamal. All were excellent. Grilled avocado guacamole lacked flavor--no garlic, not enough onion or lime, and very cold--the container taken out of the refrigerator and handed to us. And for me the big missing element here is beans. None on the menu. We are definitely going back soon. We want to try sopes next time. Hooray!

We were so impressed that we went back today with K. I had a sope with puerco al pastor. The meat and pineapple were tasty, but it was more like a tostada than a sope--the base was a double tortilla griddled until it was crisp. Hard actually, not crispy-crunchy like a fried tostada shell, and it was difficult to cut. A sope should be a masa boat, cooked but with the masa still soft inside.

They do have beans, but you have to ask for them. They were refried pintos and they were DELICIOUS.

K had a birria taco, which is braised lamb. Very tasty, a bit gamy, recommended for those who like their lamb to taste like lamb.

The sweetbread taco is something unique (I've never seen it before). And very special. The first night we were there, Sunday before six p.m., we got one of the last two servings before they ran out. Tonight, around six p.m. we ordered three of them and they seemed to have an adequate supply. Word to the wise--if you roll in late in the evening, they may have sold out of sweetbreads. BUT, if you are a fan of sweetbreads, you really need to try this.

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Zora, best in DC, or best in DC Metro Area?

Daniel, I was being a bit hyperbolic. I should have said "best tacos I have eaten in the DC area." I haven't eaten at every new taco place. YMMV. Having recently spent ten days in L.A., where great Mexican food is readily available (not just tacos, either--there is a lot more to Mexican cuisine than you'd guess by the available options in our area), I was bowled away by Bamba's variety of meats, complexity, quality and value. That place would be packed, if it was in L.A.

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Daniel, I was being a bit hyperbolic. I should have said "best tacos I have eaten in the DC area." I haven't eaten at every new taco place. YMMV. Having recently spent ten days in L.A., where great Mexican food is readily available (not just tacos, either--there is a lot more to Mexican cuisine than you'd guess by the available options in our area), I was bowled away by Bamba's variety of meats, complexity, quality and value. That place would be packed, if it was in L.A.

What Zora said.

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 That place would be packed, if it was in L.A.

We may have to give this place time. It's still very new, and it's tucked away where no one will happen upon it by accident. I agree it's easily the best tacos I've had in the DC area, nothing else is really even close.

I've tried: tongue (least favorite, but still pretty good), barbacoa, spicy shrimp, spicy shrooms and sweetbreads. My two favorites are the barbacoa and sweetbreads.

Also, I found the staff to be very friendly and wiling to talk about the food and the business. I think they'd be quite accommodating to any reasonable requests.

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Went to Taco Bamba today after getting my salmon share pickup from Cold Country Salmon.  I would say the tacos are decent.  Looking upthread, the default for sure is now corn tortillas as opposed to flour.  They were indeed from a bag however.

The fillings were mostly good I got pastor, chorizo, and carnitas.  I still have not found pastor worth a darn yet in the area.  Carnitas were good, chorizo a little too course for my taste but were fine.  I would definitely have them in my rotation if I lived in Arlington still, but I definitely would not drive any longer distance for them.

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I went in yesterday and enjoyed the daily special: blood sausage, the meat crumbly and crispy, topped with a mixture of corn, poblanos and mayonnaise or "aioli" as they described it. Another reason to like Taco Bamba--they are simultaneously traditional, with many of the fillings, and pushing the boundaries, with unusual meats and salsas. I also had a tamale verde, which was perfectly steamed, tender and flavorful. This is the best tamale I have found around here, other than the ones I make myself.

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I went there again today.  I think it was my forth visit, the last one being about a month ago. I am an offal hound, so I just love the meat choices. In fact, I love offal so much there are a number of more traditional fillings I have not tried there yet as I keep getting drawn back to the lengua and tripas. Today, I went with birria (lamb) and carnitas. Both were very good. The ordering and the line have improved. The salsas remain terrific. My original criticism also remains valid: fillings and salsas this good cry out for better tortillas.  Per the tortilla thread on this board, it is a challenge getting house made or high quality, commercial bakery made corn tortillas in an area without a critical mass of Mexicans, but I hope Albisu comes up with a creative solution the way Sandoval or Fuego have

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I went there again today.  I think it was my forth visit, the last one being about a month ago. I am an offal hound, so I just love the meat choices. In fact, I love offal so much there are a number of more traditional fillings I have not tried there yet as I keep getting drawn back to the lengua and tripas. Today, I went with birria (lamb) and carnitas. Both were very good. The ordering and the line have improved. The salsas remain terrific. My original criticism also remains valid: fillings and salsas this good cry out for better tortillas.  Per the tortilla thread on this board, it is a challenge getting house made or high quality, commercial bakery made corn tortillas in an area without a critical mass of Mexicans, but I hope Albisu comes up with a creative solution the way Sandoval or Fuego have

Moctec in Landover, MD is the source of the very authentic masa used at Zaytinya and Fuego. Moctec also makes tortillas and chips with their masa. the closest place I've found that sells Moctec tortillas and chips is the Takoma Park/Silver Spring Co-op.

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I've been a few times - good spot but not outstanding. I agree with the comments about the tortillas - they're fine but not great. I think their specialty tacos, specifically the black pearl and the sweetbreads, are generally better than their traditional tacos.

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I work out in Tyson's on occasion so have been more than a handful of times.  Must say that other than Jesus's taco truck on 14th these are the best tacos I've had in the DMV.  On par with what I used to get in the Willamette Valley and LA? Nope.  But that doesn't mean they're not tasty and a helluva lot better than everything else I've tried - which, full disclosure, isn't exhaustive  Food quality and execution is consistent. Overpriced? Sure, but what isn't out here.  Agree with Eatdceat that the specialty tacos are generally more interesting than the traditional, but the lengua and carnitas are well done.

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Some news on the FC branch of Crisp & Juicy courtesy of the Falls Church News-Press:

Crisp & Juicy is relocating its Broad Street restaurant to 7500 Leesburg Pike in the Tysons Station Shopping Center. As reported last week by the News-Press, the current Crisp & Juicy site at 913 W. Broad Street will become an Einstein Bros. Bagels in March.

The only problem I see with this is that it will be within walking distance from my domicile. I need to take out a restraining order against myself.

 

Who needs another place in that stretch of Falls Church, when Taco Bamba is there? I was there the week before last and had KILLER pozole, made with Peruvian dried nixtamalized corn (the big kernels), red chile, and was garnished with freshly fried chicarron. Wow. The tamales and refried beans are always delicious, and the tacos are great. The one disappointment is that they have discontinued the sweetbread tacos, which were our favorite.

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Who needs another place in that stretch of Falls Church, when Taco Bamba is there? I was there the week before last and had KILLER pozole, made with Peruvian dried nixtamalized corn (the big kernels), red chile, and was garnished with freshly fried chicarron. Wow. The tamales and refried beans are always delicious, and the tacos are great. The one disappointment is that they have discontinued the sweetbread tacos, which were our favorite.

I need to go there with you.

Answer me something I've wondered (and may have even asked before): is the Peruvian dried nixtamalized corn (not that you're a "foodie" or anything) the same thing as hominy?

The days that I come across a word I've never seen before are becoming rare - you broke the streak today.

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Don, the latest issue of lucky peach has a lengthly article all about the process, along with how fresh masa is made and therefore amazing tortillas. Also, in Peru the large corn is called choclo, and they slow fry it from dry till it sort of pops but is still very crunchy then it's salted and called cancha.

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Also, in Peru the large corn is called choclo, and they slow fry it from dry till it sort of pops but is still very crunchy then it's salted and called cancha.

I thought it was called Corn Nuts. ;)

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Who needs another place in that stretch of Falls Church, when Taco Bamba is there? I was there the week before last and had KILLER pozole, made with Peruvian dried nixtamalized corn (the big kernels), red chile, and was garnished with freshly fried chicarron. Wow.

Best pozole I've ever eaten.

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I went last Thursday.  Highlight was the carnitas taco.  That was worth the trip.  The chorizo was a little dry but had promise.  Lengua was ok.  My main complaint is the tortillas.  Just don't think they are that great.  They appear to be out of a bag purchased from the latin market next door.

Guacamole and Horchata were quite good as well.  Going to have to try the pozole next time

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