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Fish Taco, Taqueria by the Owners of Food, Wine, & Co. in Several Area Locations

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Opened last week.  Website here.  No menu online yet, I have a paper copy, will try to photograph and post a pic later this weekend.  Open 11am -9pm Sunday and Monday; 11am -9:30pm Tuesday -Thursday, 11 am -10 pm Friday Saturday.  7945 MacArthur Blvd.

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Opened last week.  Website here.  No menu online yet, I have a paper copy, will try to photograph and post a pic later this weekend.  Open 11am -9pm Sunday and Monday; 11am -9:30pm Tuesday -Thursday, 11 am -10 pm Friday Saturday.  7945 MacArthur Blvd.

Eddie Moran (former Chef de Cuisine at Sou'Wester) has been pulling some long hours getting Fish Taco ready.

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Eddie Moran (former Chef de Cuisine at Sou'Wester) has been pulling some long hours getting Fish Taco ready.

Boy, how I wish I could rave, given that this place is much closer to me than all my favorite taquerias.  But first try today was not promising.  The fish tacos were very deeply fried, overwhelming the taste of the fish, and the pastor tacos were overwhelmed by chunks of pineapple, making them sickly sweet (with little discernible pork flavor).  What's worse, the pricing is fairly unconscionable.  One must order two tacos (of the same kind) in an order, and the prices for a pair are almost all in the $12/13 rage ($9 for the pastor).  That's far, far more than I've paid in recent weeks at four places where the tacos were much better:  La Bamba (really, really great on my first visit -- see Zora's post), Tortacos, Mama Chuy's, and Distrito Federal.  I assume that the rent in Cabin John is higher than in those other locales, but still . . . .

Not that this will likely make a difference in terms of their success -- the area is so starved for good food that it was packed today at 2:00, late in August when many are away on vacation.

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I thought is by the folks at Food, Wine & Co.?

I think it is - I know Eddie is working with Michael Harr on this - for some reason, a lot of what's on the web says Wild Tomato and Persimmon.

(Pssst ... they're also working on a place called "City Burger" - see Eater in a few weeks for the scoop.)

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I got a note from Michael Harr saying that Fish Taco is not officially open, and that they're still working on the dishes. They are not ready yet for reviews to be written about them - I didn't have this information before tonight.

Michael asks that you respect this, and wait until they give an official opening date.

Are they charging customers full price for food? If so, they're ready for reviews, unless they're VERY clear to the customers that they're not officially open.

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I got a note from Michael Harr saying that Fish Taco is not officially open, and that they're still working on the dishes. They are not ready yet for reviews to be written about them - I didn't have this information before tonight.

Michael asks that you respect this, and wait until they give an official opening date.

Are they charging customers full price for food? If so, they're ready for reviews, unless they're VERY clear to the customers that they're not officially open.

Very interesting.  Mr P and I were out for a walk and stopped in a few nights ago.  Place was more than half-full; I asked at the counter when they had actually opened and the cashier replied "last week".   <shrug>  at any rate happy to comply with Chef Harr's request.  mtureck, sorry I don't know the answer to your question, but a sudden change in my weekend plans means carryout is in the very near future, so I'll have an answer soon.

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A Cabin John Primer

Cabin John is a small community in southern Montgomery County bounded (roughly) by the Potomac River, Persimmon Tree Road, and the Cabin John Parkway, and is known primarily for its odd name and the annoying one-lane bridge that carries MacArthur Boulevard across the Cabin Branch.

The small shopping center within, where Fish Taco is located, is called MacArthur Plaza.

The Cabin John Mall, at Tuckerman and Seven Locks Road, is in Potomac, not Cabin John.

Cabin John Regional park straddles Potomac and Bethesda, and is not in Cabin John.

The Cabin John Park Fire Department is in Bethesda, not Cabin John.

Cabin John Middle School is in Potomac, not Cabin John.

The Cabin John Parkway connects the Capitol Beltway in west Bethesda to the Clara Barton Parkway in Glen Echo.  One cannot get directly to Cabin John via the Cabin John Parkway.

Fish Taco menu:

post-554-0-24032000-1377946915_thumb.jpg

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A Cabin John Primer

Cabin John is a small community in southern Montgomery County bounded (roughly) by the Potomac River, Persimmon Tree Road, and the Cabin John Parkway, and is known primarily for its odd name and the annoying one-lane bridge that carries MacArthur Boulevard across the Cabin Branch.

The small shopping center within, where Fish Taco is located, is called MacArthur Plaza.

The Cabin John Mall, at Tuckerman and Seven Locks Road, is in Potomac, not Cabin John.

Cabin John Regional park straddles Potomac and Bethesda, and is not in Cabin John.

The Cabin John Park Fire Department is in Bethesda, not Cabin John.

Cabin John Middle School is in Potomac, not Cabin John.

The Cabin John Parkway connects the Capitol Beltway in west Bethesda to the Clara Barton Parkway in Glen Echo.  One cannot get directly to Cabin John via the Cabin John Parkway.

Fish Taco menu:

Put me down for the grilled octopus taco(s)....!

(Very good geography lesson!)

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That'll be $13 plus tip and tax for two ordinary sized tacos -- sure you're still "down" for it?

Put me down for the grilled octopus taco(s)....!

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Fish Taco menu:

Whoever put "choose taco's" at the top of the menu needs to be spanked with a beginning grammar and punctuation textbook.

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I got a note from Michael Harr saying that Fish Taco is not officially open, and that they're still working on the dishes. They are not ready yet for reviews to be written about them - I didn't have this information before tonight.

Michael asks that you respect this, and wait until they give an official opening date.

Cheers,

Rocks

Don......help me understand what Mr. Harr means by "open" and "official opening date?"  I live about 5 minutes away and someone on our neighborhood listserv noted it was open for business on August 19 if I'm not mistaken.  I dropped by on the way home one day that week to pick up a carry out menu but they did not have any.  But they were definitely operating normally and were moderately busy.

At least to the average Joe, Fish Tacos has been open for two weeks.  There is no indication at the restaurant or in any publicity that they are not open in a normal capacity.  I agree with mtureck that they should be open for reviews given what I've seen.

Perhaps Mr. Harr can officially post here and let us know what's going on.  I'm not in the restaurant business so maybe I don't know what it takes for a restaurant to be officially open.

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Don......help me understand what Mr. Harr means by "open" and "official opening date?"  I live about 5 minutes away and someone on our neighborhood listserv noted it was open for business on August 19 if I'm not mistaken.  I dropped by on the way home one day that week to pick up a carry out menu but they did not have any.  But they were definitely operating normally and were moderately busy.

At least to the average Joe, Fish Tacos has been open for two weeks.  There is no indication at the restaurant or in any publicity that they are not open in a normal capacity.  I agree with mtureck that they should be open for reviews given what I've seen.

Perhaps Mr. Harr can officially post here and let us know what's going on.  I'm not in the restaurant business so maybe I don't know what it takes for a restaurant to be officially open.

I will not delete any reviews written here; I was merely passing along Michael's request. I understand this is a controversial area - hopefully Michael will indeed chime in, but it doesn't matter either way.

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I have been here two times (one dine in and one carry out). Both times I would give the food high marks.

Dine in shrimp tacos (flour tortilla), rice and black beans, chips and guac and most importantly a strong frozen lime margarita (they also have beer on tap).

Carryout was chicken tacos (corn tortilla) rice and black beans, chips and salsa.

Food was very good. My only complaint was that I wish had three tacos rather than two.

Prices did not seem outrageous to me for a neighborhood restaurant in this area. I don't think they reflect the rent as much as they reflect the supply/demand characteristics of the area. Sure you maybe can get cheaper with a bit of a drive but I am more than willing to pay the premium for something close by and from the looks of it others seem to agree. Same reason why Wild Tomato is always packed. On another topic, still can't figure out how the always empty and bad sushi restaurant in the same strip stays open.

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The Chef of Fish Taco is Eddie Moran, former Chef de Cuisine of Sou'Wester. He conceptualized the menu, and is working daily on-site. Yesterday, I had a late lunch there, and he was sitting at a table, prepping one of his employees.

Figuring everyone is going to be ordering fish tacos, I decided to try something different, and went with a Grilled Skirt Steak Burrito ($9) with Mexican rice, beans, grilled scallions, mushroom escabeche, and crema; and a Diet Coke ($2 with refills). Fish Taco also has soups, salads, quesadillas - it's a classic quick-serve taqueria, but with very expensive, modern equipment (Cvap Silver Edition, NuVU Smoke 13 (all the chiles and tomatoes for the salsa are smoked, and the brisket is smoked for 12 hours), Vulcan Range, infrared gas grill, etc.). They're sourcing their tortillas and corn chips from a local tortilla maker - Casa Blanca.

Fish Taco seems destined to be a chain, but the single most important thing for you to remember is that right now, it isn't. (Do you remember at the very first Cava Mezze Grill, they had a pot of lamb braising on the stove? No longer.) It will take Fish Taco days, perhaps weeks, to settle in - both the service and some of the recipes are still being tweaked - but once it does, I suspect it will never be better than it is now, with Chef Moran almost literally at the stove. There was a slight flaw in my burrito in that some component of it had a touch too much reduced vinegar flavor which came close to dominating, but this is the type of thing that is quickly and easily addressed.

I wrote Chef Moran about the burrito, and here's more information than you could possibly dream of having, but it's indicative of the pride that he has put into his work:

"So, the burrito is made with local flour tortillas; Mexican rice perfumed with clove orange and achiote; the beans are also vegetarian, made with garlic cumin epazote; skirt steak is rubbed with an adobo chile paste that we make with the best dried chiles from The Chile Guy in New Mexico grilled in small batches; grilled scallions; poblano a chile rajas; portobello mushroom escabeche - that's where the acid was from actually ; then finished with a chipotle crema that we make our own chipotle adobo out of - morita chipotles and really good quality Mexican crema which is creamy, a little grassy, and has a nice touch of salinity."

 
Well!
 

Based on everything I've now read, seen, and experienced, my best guess is to wait a week or two, then go and give it a try. Initialized in Italic.

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Went there for dinner again tonight.  Chicken tacos again.  Still did not disappoint. Michael Harr was there as all and confirmed himself as the head chef and co-owner.  Said that they had been tinkering with the menu based on input from customers and will have their final menu out and ready to rock next week.

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Looks like prices have come down a bit but also a few menu changes - no more octopus tacos, which I have had and enjoyed.

attachicon.gifFishTacoMenu20130930.pdf

Eddie Moran is no longer with this restaurant group, btw, so my 9/5/13 Review of Fish Taco is now obsolete.

Interestingly, the bottom-left of the menu says that they also own Don Pollo which I did not know. My 12/26/10 Review of Don Pollo indicated that there were multiple locations, yet Fish Taco's menu mentions only a Bethesda location.

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Interestingly, the bottom-left of the menu says that they also own Don Pollo which I did not know. My 12/26/10 Review of Don Pollo indicated that there were multiple locations, yet Fish Taco's menu mentions only a Bethesda location. 

This would explain why Don Pollo had Fish Taco menus prominently displayed when I went this past Friday to pick up some chicken. . .

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Twelve bucks gets you a lot of food.  The "signature fish tacos" (pictured below) are large, with a good ratio of cabbage and pickled stuff to fried fish, and come with a delicious, mild and slightly sweet green salsa and a big pile of rice and black beans.  The fish itself was tender, mild, crunchy on the outside, and not a bit oily.

I've had a few of the other tacos and was not wild about them, but that was back when Fish Taco first opened, so I won't elaborate here.  I am wild about the elote, though.

Note to Zora: they seem to have fixed that grammatical error.

post-554-0-38103300-1380628453_thumb.jpg

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Eddie Moran is no longer with this restaurant group,

No surprise. On the few times I was there when Eddie was there he was blowing up at the servers and other kitchen staff. When diners sent back a dish he would thrown a tantrum, including at customers.

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Went there for dinner again tonight.  Chicken tacos again.  Still did not disappoint. Michael Harr was there as all and confirmed himself as the head chef and co-owner.  Said that they had been tinkering with the menu based on input from customers and will have their final menu out and ready to rock next week.

No surprise. On the few times I was there when Eddie was there he was blowing up at the servers and other kitchen staff. When diners sent back a dish he would thrown a tantrum, including at customers.

Fascinating, "stockwatch." The only time I went there, Eddie was quietly working with a staff member at a table - I didn't even approach him to say hello because he was busy, and I'm not even sure he would have recognized me if I had.

What I find even more fascinating is that you'd know what Eddie Moran and Michael Harr even look like. Especially since you're just a regular old person, completely unaffiliated with the owners, right?

And how coincidental that you'd happen to be in there, and strike up a conversation with Michael Harr, who was "there as all [sic]," and during which he asserted himself as "head chef and co-owner."

It also strikes me as noteworthy that just a couple weeks before (back when things were seemingly going well between Chef Moran and the management), you wrote this glowing review:

I have been here two times (one dine in and one carry out). Both times I would give the food high marks.

Dine in shrimp tacos (flour tortilla), rice and black beans, chips and guac and most importantly a strong frozen lime margarita (they also have beer on tap).

Carryout was chicken tacos (corn tortilla) rice and black beans, chips and salsa.

Food was very good. My only complaint was that I wish had three tacos rather than two.

Prices did not seem outrageous to me for a neighborhood restaurant in this area. I don't think they reflect the rent as much as they reflect the supply/demand characteristics of the area. Sure you maybe can get cheaper with a bit of a drive but I am more than willing to pay the premium for something close by and from the looks of it others seem to agree. Same reason why Wild Tomato is always packed. On another topic, still can't figure out how the always empty and bad sushi restaurant in the same strip stays open.

Yes, you trashed the "always empty and bad sushi restaurant in [sic] same strip."

But, gosh, in this review, you didn't mention one word about Eddie Moran "blowing up at the servers and other kitchen staff," diners sending back dishes, or Moran "he would thrown [sic] a tantrum, including at customers." One would think that such awful behavior would hardly merit a positive review, without so much as a mention of these terrible temper tantrums, or of people sending back their dishes.

Not only didn't you mention this, you even went *back* after these horrible displays. You must either *really* like fish tacos, or else you're one heck of a masochist.

Or, maybe, there's some other explanation?

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Not affiliated. Just happen to eat there a few times a week (it is convenient, I'm a sucker for good margaritas and I'll take this over Cal Tor any day of the week (if my kids had their way we would be eating there and California Pizza Kitchen on alternating nights 7 days a week; I don't really care for either except for the pea soup at the latter but that is for a different conversation)). I guess with the frequency and luck I happened to figure out who Eddie was when his demeanor compelled me to do some Google sleuthing. Keep on going back because while I witnessed it I never really suffered it myself. Plus remember - Margaritas.

I think with going so much it must have not taken that long to be a regular. Would have had no idea who Harr was but for the fact that he came up to us (it was near closing time and we snuck a quick bite in there in between a back to school night and home). Also have to say have never see Harr again so it may be chef in name only, which doesn't bother me all that much given that this is really a QSR.

As for the food, my views are still the same, although I personally like the fish tacos at Wild Tomato a whole lot better. Have I had better? Yes. Anyone who has been to "Nashvegas" and been to Local Taco knows that answer. But Fish Taco is at the top of my list if I don't want to drive more than 5 minutes and want good, reliable food, which is more often the case than not.  And don't forget - that Margarita.

As an aside I see that the transformed Bezu has reopened as Mix, which really just looks like a glorified bar you might find in many hotels. Menu also looks very uninspiring. I will try it but if I had to bet, this is not a concept that will be long lasting. Too bad.

Also as for My Sushi.  It still perplexes me how it stays open.  Walter White? Car Wash? Just saying.

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