A once-sleepy Alexandria strip will get a dose of grungy-cool vibes this week with the arrival of a ‘90s hip-hop playing, taco-and-tequila slinging bar set inside a converted auto body shop.
Chop Shop Taco is expected to open tomorrow at 1008 Madison Street, near the Braddock Road Metro.
Chef and co-founder Ed McIntosh already has taco street cred, most recently manning a the roving Tortilladora across the area. Chop Shop Taco sits in Alexandria’s Madison Collective development, which sits nearby the Pendleton Carryout Co. operation he co-founded last fall with the same team.
The name refers to its 1,000-square-foot home’s former life as a garage, with lots of its original hardware making comeback appearances inside the industrial-style restaurant.
A local artist painted a colorful 8-by-10 mural that reads “chop it up.” The quote is a nod to a menu full of cultural mash-ups that incorporates chopped meats roasted on a spit (duck, whole chickens, ribeye), nostalgic snacks, tacos, and Mexican barbecue.
The original garage floor is still in place, resurfaced and shined for foot traffic purposes. If people look closely, they can spot where an old car lift used to be nailed into the floor. Pieces of that lift have been converted into legs for high-top tables and chairs.
Original sturdy doors were also repurposed and reused. When a roll-up garage door is closed, its pink-tinged glass casts a rose-colored hue over tables. Wall decor includes a vintage sign that reads “used tires for sale.”
Numbered succulents act as table markers, and cocktails are served in mismatched crystal glasses, some of which are family heirlooms.
Stainless steel plates ideal for outdoor camping resemble hubcaps and mirrors. The design of its 47 seats also looks to cars for inspiration. Banquettes look like the front seat of a classic car, while dining room chairs feel like retro bucket seats.
McIntosh plans to go “old school” with the music selection, blasting some of the 1990s hip-hop he grew up with in New York City. He’ll also air lots of Gotan Project, an electronica-meets-tango group out of Paris.
Chop Shop plans to operate from Wednesday through Sunday and opens at 11 a.m. A dinner menu will be available starting at 4 p.m.