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Taqueria Nacional, Formerly on Capitol Hill - Relocated to 14th and T Street in 14UP


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Given the lack of decent, reasonably-priced lunch options in the vicinity of Union Station I was excited to try this place out. All things considered I think this place has a lot of potential. There were a couple of first day teething problems but its cheap and most of what I had tasted great.

Tacos run either $2.25 (chicken and pork) or $2.50 (beef and fish). Sides including beans, yuca fries and a few others seem to be about $1.50. There will be a daily 'American' special - today it was Chicken Pot Pie for $4. So you can get in and out of these for as much or as little as you want.

The yuca fries were excellent, crispy on the outside and gooey warm goodness on the inside. They reminded me a little of the fries at Blue Duck Tavern. The fish tacos were also good, 3 large (maybe even too large) chunks of fried fish battling for space on a tiny soft taco, with some shredded cabbage and a mystery sauce. It was harder to evaluate the pork taco as the amount of pork approximated what I'd expect to get on a pork dish at Minibar as one of my 35 courses!

There are also 3 self serve salsas, tomato, chile and green....none super spicy but all quite tasty and flavorful.

So all in all a promising start. Service was slow for fast food (15-20 minutes), I ended up with two fish tacos instead of the one I ordered and there wasn't a lot of pork to be seen on my pork taco but I'm sure all these things will be remedied as they get up to speed.

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Not to quibble, but shouldn't it be nacional, not nationale? Nacional = Spanish, Nationale = almost Italian.

(this brought to you from the member currently in Honduras for a week who is being subjected to Honduran food, which is mainly American chains such as Dunkin Donuts, TGI Fridays, and Tony Roma's -- a real Taco would be welcome right about now)

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where exactly is this place? is it IN johnny's, but in the back? - because that doesn't make any sense to me. i'd like to give it a try for lunch someday...

Not physically in Johnny's....if you walk along Johnny's patio towards the office building entrance, its a seperate little storefront on your left....but its hard to see from the street.....and yes, I probably mucked up the spelling!!

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The carnitas taco had good citrus flavor, but the pork was a little chewy and could have used some little crispy bits. Mine was loaded, so maybe Niall's was a one-time goof. Be warned that this is a triple-onion threat, with soft sweet cooked onions, diced raw white onions, and shreds of scallion for a grassy top note. The fish taco was excellent, with crispy fish and shredded cabbage. The sauce was a little bland, but a shot of the medium green sauce perked it right up. Two tacos and a watermelon agua fresca came to $6.80. I walked right in and got served promptly, but there was a line out the door by the time my food came up.

Be warned that there is nowhere to sit around there, so if you're not going back to a nearby office then your best bet is to find a patch of lawn across from Union Station or near the Capitol building.

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I went back again today. I may be facing a major yuca fry addiction over the next few months. Those things are so damn good. Had a beef and a pork taco today and happy to report the quantity control problem they had on day one seems to have been resolved. Service was much much smoother today as well so they are clearly getting things figured out.

No special today, they said they'd have one tomorrow.

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also stopped by today with a few co-workers. i have to agree that my fish taco was decent, though i dont' believe there was any sauce on mine (but like others, i added the self-serve green medium sauce and it was fine).

i also ordered the carnitas taco, but i didn't find the pork to be chewy, but yes, it was oniony.

the yuca fries were tasty and not as starchy as i thought they might be.

cantelope agua fresca was delicious and reminded me of something my mom makes, only she keeps slivers of cantelope in hers, and we eat it with a spoon (along with drinking it).

one comment i have is the overuse of packaging. one taco came in one of those cardboard (and sturdy) old-school mcdonald's big mac flip-top containers. when i was given my order, i received a large brown paper bag with handles (and a pretty nice one at that), with the cardboard containers inside. given it's a take-out place, maybe they might want to just wrap up the tacos in wax paper or something. i felt rather guilty having so many packages and then throwing them away after i was finished. had it not been so windy when i ate outside (across the street at senate park - plenty of benches to go around), i probably would have saved the paper bag for something else, but alas, all my sauces spilled all over the bag when i put them in there.

i'd say it's a welcome addition to my lunch options in the area.

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one comment i have is the overuse of packaging. one taco came in one of those cardboard (and sturdy) old-school mcdonald's big mac flip-top containers. when i was given my order, i received a large brown paper bag with handles (and a pretty nice one at that), with the cardboard containers inside. given it's a take-out place, maybe they might want to just wrap up the tacos in wax paper or something. i felt rather guilty having so many packages and then throwing them away after i was finished. had it not been so windy when i ate outside (across the street at senate park - plenty of benches to go around), i probably would have saved the paper bag for something else, but alas, all my sauces spilled all over the bag when i put them in there.

I agree wholeheartedly...too much packaging for fast food....would save them $$ and be more environmentally friendly

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Be warned that there is nowhere to sit around there, so if you're not going back to a nearby office then your best bet is to find a patch of lawn across from Union Station or near the Capitol building.

Just head on over to the front stoop of Jones Day, and have a little picnic there. They love it! :blink:

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one comment i have is the overuse of packaging. one taco came in one of those cardboard (and sturdy) old-school mcdonald's big mac flip-top containers. when i was given my order, i received a large brown paper bag with handles (and a pretty nice one at that), with the cardboard containers inside. given it's a take-out place, maybe they might want to just wrap up the tacos in wax paper or something. i felt rather guilty having so many packages and then throwing them away after i was finished. had it not been so windy when i ate outside (across the street at senate park - plenty of benches to go around), i probably would have saved the paper bag for something else, but alas, all my sauces spilled all over the bag when i put them in there.

Those brown box containers that they are using are all recycled material as are the plastic cups. It's as good as it's going to get for this kind of thing. They are a crazy expensive option for someplace that has a check average that low (which is why most places don't use them-think about it-a $2.50 taco in a .20 box kind of cuts into the bottom line), but it's the best option given that it's a 100% TO GO kind of place. If it's really something that makes you crazy, you can take your own container if you like, but given how busy they seem to be, it might kind of throw everything into turmoil in the order packing dept (though given a bit of time-they've only been open for four days, c'mon!-they will probably be able to happily handle this kind of thing eventually-though now that I think about it, the Health regs will probably prevent that). I had fish tacos on Friday afternoon. They were really good, with just the right amount of white sauce mixed in with the cabbage. Also had a horchata which was pretty danged skippy, as well. Lunch special on Friday was Jambalaya and it's chock full of shrimp and sausage with just the right amount of spicy tomato wang to it.

Edited bekauz im a bed speler

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Those brown box containers that they are using are all recycled material.
I felt a little guilty about the packaging too. Hearing that helps, so thanks for chiming in. Will the specials be regular, i.e. Jambalaya every Friday, or will they be at the whim of the chef?

I almost got the horchata, but the watermelon was beautifully refreshing.

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I am so happy about this place - I work around the Union Station lunch wasteland, and this is a very welcome addition! Those yucca fries are a must try (I'd get them over fries any day), and I think the green salsa is awesome. Loved the watermelon drink, going to try canteloupe next. Also very much enjoyed both the fish taco and the chicken taco - while boring in looks, they were very tasty. Definitely need to break out the mints after this meal, though :blink:

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I've been looking forward to the opening since I work on the Senate side. I made my first trip today and found it very satisfying. I had 3 fish tacos (huge chunks of fish). The food was fresh tasting and the service was friendly. Overall, this place is a great value and a welcome addition to the area. I will be returning soon.

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I was just at Sonoma for lunch, and Drew and some members of the crew had picked up a few things from here for lunch. Everyone seemed to like it, though Drew wondered about the strange hours (7 to 3?). Sounds worth trying.

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...Drew wondered about the strange hours (7 to 3?)...

Just about every sandwich joint downtown has similar hours - breakfast, lunch, and a few mid-afternoon snacks before they close for the day. Not enough walk-in traffic from the hordes pouring out of the city between 4 and 6, and not enough dinner traffic, to stay open. A different dynamic on the Hill, I guess, but possibly similar thinking.

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The cantelope aqua fresca is really nice with tiny bits of cantelope that you can nibble. The guacample is very simple but so very good. Its a great addition to the neighborhood.

Has anyone tried breakfast yet? I'm thinking about it next week since its my last week working in the area.

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The cantelope aqua fresca is really nice with tiny bits of cantelope that you can nibble.

The pineapple is also very good, my only quibble would be that it is kept warm over ice, and takes a while to reach a satisfyingly cool temperature.

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Oh. My. God.

At the risk of being thought of as some PR flack for Taqueria, you absolutely, positively, definitely HAVE to go there next Monday for the burger special. Having had the burger at Central and here I can say that at $5.50 w/ some fries, the Taqueria burger more than holds its own against Central AND you can eat three of em for the price of one at Central!!

Swell meat never tasted so good! :blink:

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Oh. My. God.

At the risk of being thought of as some PR flack for Taqueria, you absolutely, positively, definitely HAVE to go there next Monday for the burger special. Having had the burger at Central and here I can say that at $5.50 w/ some fries, the Taqueria burger more than holds its own against Central AND you can eat three of em for the price of one at Central!!

Swell meat never tasted so good! :blink:

Agree 100%. That was a swelluva burger. Just delicious, big, juicy! burger. Palena look out!

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Oh. My. God.

Swell meat never tasted so good! :blink:

At least we got that out of the way.

And Don asked me to say, by way of disclosure, that I am a "friend of the house," though I have no financial interest in any of Ann and Johnny's projects anywhere, anyhow. So there. I said it. I can't think of a better house to call a friend. They're good folks, those two.

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This place is promising with good tortillas and salsas and those delicious aguas fresca and a nice sense of traditionalism -- but boy, the carnitas and beef tacos I tried were horribly underseasoned. Not sure they could have tasted any more bland. (The fish and chicken tacos were much better -- especially the chicken.) I've also noticed that they're inconsistent with the amount of meat they put into the tacos.

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My doc changed my appointment from today to Thursday so I will not be downtown after all. :blink: Meatloaf sounds alright, but I would have preferred the pimento cheeseburger.
What is this pimento cheeseburger you speak of and is it offered every day?
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I feared that if I ordered the Yucca fries that they would be cold and unpalatable by the time I got back to my office. So to be on the safe side I ordered an extra taco. While the Fries were not hot by the time I trudged back to my office they were neither cold nor unpalatable. They were several others have stated, addicting, some might complain at only getting 5 for $1.50, but I would call it a bargain.

As for the tacos, I think that the pork is the best option on the menu, it is filled with gelatinous goodness.

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the burger is an ann cashion creation- known as the delicious elvis burger on jackie's menu (in silver spring). i haven't tried the burger here- but have enjoyed the mini versions many times at jackie's. having grown up in the south where pimento cheese is in every grocery store, i'd never imagined the magic that combining this stuff with a great burger could create. deeelish

i really enjoyed my tacos, yucca, and watermelon agua fresca and am anxious to go back for more soon.

Yum!

What is this pimento cheeseburger you speak of and is it offered every day?
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The burger is swell. Juicy, still a touch pink on the inside. The bun is tasty. Much better pimento cheese than I'm used to.

Has anyone had the brisket sandwich yet? How is the brisket cooked, and what kind of bread is it on?

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Has anyone had the brisket sandwich yet? How is the brisket cooked, and what kind of bread is it on?

I'm probably gonna swing by there today....will report back

I had the meatloaf last week.....good but not in the same league as the burger.....

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Met someone who works in the office building upstairs for lunch here today. I had the pork carnitas without the raw onion so I didn't breathe it on the people I was hitting up for favors all afternoon. Very tasty plain, made much better with a hit of the green salsa. The honeydew agua fresca was very refreshing. I was tempted to go back for the canteloupe before heading over to the House side for a meeting but didn't think I'd make it on time. On a sticky, humid summer day this drink would be heavenly.

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four things:

1. do the honeydew.

2. the strawberry drink is nice but could use a blender and some rum.

3. the brisket sandwich: the meat is tasty and tender - though a touch dry. was on the same small bun as the burger, and there was a suggestion of mayo, but not enough to make an impact. this sandwich is not very filling but has potential. it needs the au jus from the brisket, and perhaps some horseradish, before I'd order it again.

4. the shrimp jambalaya looks great.

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The pimento cheese burger is, indeed, very good. It took a little time for them to prepare it, so I sipped my cantaloupe agua fresca in the meantime--very refreshing summer drink.

I sat on the ground--against one of the pillars on the plaza outside--to eat the burger and fries, giving me the advantage of both shade and the musical accompaniment of the Johnny's piano player on the adjacent patio. Sitting on the stone wasn't as comfy as a chair, but, hey, as long as I can still get myself down onto the ground and back up again, I've got no complaints ;).

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Have been to Taqueria twice now. Both times had 2 tacos, refried beans and yucca fries, with horchata to drink. Its cheap, among the best options in the Union Station area. Healthy, fresh, cheap, quality food. On nice days, its relaxing to sit on the large fountain across the street and soak up the sun. When it gets very hot and humid, or when our 2 weeks of winter arrive in DC, it could be a tough sell though. Perhaps they can transform the Johnny's patio and offer it up in the winter.

As an aside, I'm not a huge fan of next door Johnny's Half Shell, although I have high hopes that it'll improve.

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Finally made it over to see what all the fuss was about. My pork taco was delicious and tender, and the watermelon concoction was delightful. I should have ordered more sides, but I'll know better next time. Their salsas are also really tasty.

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I noticed today that they are using a single thicker tortilla instead of the thinner pair they used to be served on. Today's pork tacos were the best that I have had at Taqueria Nacionale. I was quite disappointed with the cantaloupe drink, maybe it is just that I am not a huge melon fan.

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Just came back from an all too brief lunch (thanks a lot evil boss) wish this place were closer to my office! I'd be there daily. Had a great fish taco. Best I've had in this area. Ok - considering our Mexican options in this area this is not especially high praise but really- the fish was moist inside, crunchy outside, great sauce. The carnitas taco was pretty good, liked the onions but the pork portion was rather stingy. The cherry agua fresca which was a special today tasted like actual cherries. I hate when things are only cherry "flavored' and taste like cough medicine. I'm jealous of you Hill people, what a great lunch option!

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Oh. My. God.

At the risk of being thought of as some PR flack for Taqueria, you absolutely, positively, definitely HAVE to go there next Monday for the burger special. Having had the burger at Central and here I can say that at $5.50 w/ some fries, the Taqueria burger more than holds its own against Central AND you can eat three of em for the price of one at Central!!

It bears repeating: this burger is one of the best deals in the city (it's still $5.50 with fries). I'm there for it nearly every Monday.

They've been doing some new items lately too. Tamales have been showing up occasionally.

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