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Taco Bamba’s Alexandria Location Opens This Week, With More on the Way

Plus, homegrown chains Chaia and Rasa make a nationwide “Breakout Brands” list

Special “nuestros tacos” from the Taco Bamba in Fairfax
Location-specific “nuestros tacos” from Taco Bamba in Fairfax.
Greg Powers for Taco Bamba

Welcome to a.m. Intel, your bite-sized roundup of D.C. food and restaurant news. Tips are always welcome, drop them here.

Chef Victor Albisu is expanding his local taqueria chain in a big way, and the latest Taco Bamba lands in Alexandria this week. The 2,000-square-foot Landmark location at 6259 Little River Turnpike will open on Wednesday, April 20, at 11 a.m. This seventh location is special to Albisu; he once worked in the area at his mother’s Latin market. The neighborhood influences several dishes that can only be found at the new Landmark outpost, including the Starvin Marvin meatball torta (which riffs off of the nearby Starvin’ Marvin’s subs of Albisu’s youth).

Meanwhile, a Porque Pop taco is stuffed with Korean-style chicken nuggets, as a nod to nearby Koreatown in Annandale. There’s also a crispy sweet potato-filled Veggiemachatatte taco and the Generous George — a quesadilla filled with spaghetti and meat sauce (presumably named after Alexandria’s long-ago “pasta and pizza house”). There are also agave-forward mixed drinks that are unique to this Taco Bamba, which boasts a full-service bar and a covered patio. Other Taco Bamba locations in the works include a Gaithersburg restaurant later this spring, a Herndon shop in the summer, and a return to D.C. this fall.

Chaia and Rasa are named “the next great restaurant chains”

Two men smiling and sitting in rope swings
Rasa’s founders Rahul Vinod and Sahil Rahman are actively looking for more locations.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

Nation’s Restaurant News’ 2022 list of eight Breakout Brands — aka “the next great restaurant chain” — includes two names from the D.C. area: Indian hitmaker Rasa and vegan taco shop Chaia. Rasa, with outposts in Navy Yard, Mt. Vernon Triangle, and National Landing, is in the process of doubling in size thanks to a recently closed financing round. Next up: a new location in Fairfax’s Mosaic District this summer. They’re actively looking for other sites in Virginia and Maryland, specifically Montgomery Country, where founders Sahil Rahman and Rahul Vinod are from.

And Chaia, which recently opened a third area store in Bethesda, returns to its roots with a pop-up stand at Georgetown University’s Farmers’ Market on Wednesday, April 20. The female-owned brand, which debuted in Georgetown in 2015 soon after its start at a farmer’s market, will offer free tacos and giveaway raffles.

Columbia Pike gets a new Ethiopian restaurant

Meda Restaurant and Lounge is planning to open by early May at the latest on Columbia Pike, reports ARLnow. The new restaurant from owner Yohannes Getachew will also serve as a coffee shop and bakery. Meda is going to 5860 Columbia Pike, formerly the home of Cinthia’s Bakery II (which closed during the pandemic).