Rebel Taco Cantina doesn’t plan to reopen on U Street NW until D.C.’s indoor dining restrictions allow at least 50 percent capacity, so in the meantime, the short-lived Mexican bar is turning into a pizza pop-up that sells wood-fired pies topped with taco fillings and drizzled with jalapeno-infused oil.
The pop-up, dubbed Rebel Margherita, will start selling a menu of 11-inch Neapolitan-style pizzas for takeout and delivery at 1214 U Street NW from Wednesday, February 3, through at least the end of the month. Hours are 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday and Sunday; and Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Instead of Hawaiian pizza, Rebel Margherita has an Al Pastor pie that swaps ham out for roasted pork. It also has applewood bacon, pineapple, pickled onions, and cojita cheese. Another option that features short rib barbacoa short rib with Mexican chorizo, pepperoni, and basil.
“Most places have a ‘Meat Lovers’ — we are calling ours a ‘Meat Affair,’” Rebel owner Mike Bramson says. “Instead of Italian sausage we are using spicy chorizo — even for ham we are using Serrano ham.”
Wings — a likely accompaniment to pizza — are also available ahead of Super Bowl weekend, slathered in the same house sauce it uses to build its crispy chicken “Buffalo Soldier” tacos, as well as barbecue, or jerk options. House mango margaritas and sangrias also make a comeback this week in $25 to-go carafes. A $45 meal deal includes a margarita carafe and two pizzas.
Rebel Margherita is taking pre-orders now for Super Bowl Sunday, with expanded hours that day from noon to 8 p.m.
Arlington’s Rebel Taco food truck opened its first standalone store in D.C. last summer in the two-story building that housed Bramson’s shuttered sports bar, the Prospect. The new pizza pivot makes use of a workable brick pizza oven from the space’s even earlier days as Ulah Bistro, an Italian restaurant that operated under different ownership.
“We were debating doing tortillas in there, but with everything going on, pizza is always a great delivery [and] carryout option,” Bramson says.
The plan is to keep the pizza pop-up as its sole menu through March. Rebel Taco’s revived menu will then join the mix, along with on-site service, when it makes sense to allow customer back inside. The patio will also return once early signs of spring start. Bramson says heaters don’t function well at its location.
“We are a really small restaurant, being split with two levels, and you do 25 percent capacity, it really limits us,” Bramson says.
Bramson’s business parter Michael Juliano once worked at a small taco spot in Mexico and dreamed of opening his own stateside location one day. Latin chef Jorge Contreras did three years of R&D to help create Rebel’s menu, and his tortilla stems from a family recipe.
There’s nine red and two white pizzas to start, along with build-your-own options, that run $11 to $14.
Bramson upped up his pop-up game in Arlington this month with the debut of Clarendon Pop-up Bar, a rotating club in the former Clarendon Ballroom that kicked off with a winter wonderland theme and White Claw-spiked cocktails.
Bramson was a co-founder of the Social Restaurant Group that opened La Vie at the Wharf and Provision 14 off the U Street NW corridor, but he split with his partners. Along with the Rebel brand, his portfolio under B Social Hospitality now includes Provision No 14, Pamplona, The Lot beer garden, Roll’d sushi and dumplings in Ballston Quarter, and the forthcoming Skew’d pop-up.
Anafre, chef Alfredo Solis’s seafood-centric Mexican restaurant between Petworth and Columbia Heights, added its own “Mexican-inspired” pizza pop-up back in December.