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The “Drunken Master” taco at Taco Bamba.
Taco Bamba [Official photo]

14 Outstanding Tacos to Try in D.C.

Tortillas filled with Thai shrimp, beef tongue, chicken adobo, and more

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The “Drunken Master” taco at Taco Bamba.
| Taco Bamba [Official photo]

Any time is a great time to eat tacos in D.C.

This roundup highlights newcomers like Woodley Park’s Mayahuel and Shaw’s Cortez, as well as standbys such as El Rey and Taqueria Habanero. Most options — wrapped with flour or corn tortillas — start at $3 a pop, which means going on a citywide taco crawl is very doable.

And there’s more taco deliciousness on the horizon. Serbian bar vet Ivan Iricanin is getting ready to open a two-part restaurant Tacos, Tortas, and Tequilas in Silver Spring (and another this fall in Clarendon). And Mount Pleasant’s incoming Amparo is slated to be a tiny underground Mexican fiesta from Oyamel alum Christian Irabien Gamboa, who’s a native of Mexico.

The featured bars and restaurants are not ranked. They are arranged geographically from north to south.

Don’t see a personal favorite on the list? Sound off in the comments or shoot us an email (dc@eater.com).

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Mezcalero

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3714 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20010
(202) 803-2114
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This street food-centric taqueria fills its tortillas (corn or flour) with over a dozen featured ingredients. Combinations range from shrimp and avocado or mushrooms with goat cheese to the extra hearty campechano (chorizo and steak mixed with potatoes) as well as blackened fish smothered in spicy slaw.

Assorted tacos at Mezcalero.
Mezcalero/Facebook

2. Taqueria Habanero

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3710 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20010
(202) 722-7700
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This festive Petworth eatery is a casual and cool destination inspired by cuisine from Puebla, Mexico. Its native Mexican owners serve hits like tinga poblana (shredded chicken and sausage) and tilapia-filled tacos.

Taqueria Habanero’s al pastor, shrimp, and barbacoa tacos.
Taqueria Habanero [Yelp]

3. El Chucho

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3313 11th St NW
Washington, DC 20010
(202) 290-3313
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Whether they come for the boozy tequila drinks or the chance to soak up some rays on the spacious rooftop deck, confidence is high that every customer that walks into this Columbia Heights mainstay isn’t leaving without polishing off at least one of the kitchen’s inventive tacos. Fillings range from familiar (beer can-chicken, marinated pork) to adventurous (grilled octopus, braised beef tongue).

Assorted tacos at El Chucho.
El Chucho/Facebook

4. Mayahuel

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2609 24th St NW
Washington, DC 20008
(202) 864-6891
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This colorful Day of the Dead-themed eatery is worth the trek up to Woodley Park. A best seller is the trio of beef tongue tacos; the meat is braised four hours and served with habanero-mango salsa, fresh mango, chopped white onion, fresh cilantro, and lime wedges.

Assorted tacos at Mayahuel.
Simo Ahmadi/Photography by Simo

5. El Tamarindo

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1785 Florida Ave NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 328-3660
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Shredded chicken tacos are the name of the game at this funky taqueria, which hosts a booming Taco Tuesday with $3 to $4 tacos and drink specials.

El Tamarindo
Carla Sanchez/El Tamarindo

6. El Rey

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919 U St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 506-6418
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While its tacos sometimes emerge a bit greasy, this U Street fixture fashioned from shipping containers is a happening pregame spot for splurges like Thai shrimp and adobo chicken tacos. Wash them all down with $6 micheladas. Note: the super busy spot declines substitutions.

The buzzing scene at El Rey, which features a retractable roof.
El Rey [Facebook]

7. Cortez

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1905 9th St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 299-0381
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This airy and turquoise tequila bar transports diners to the coasts of Baja, California. Espita Mezcaleria alum Alexis Samayoa mans the kitchen, slinging chicken tinga with a generous lumps of shredded chicken, and his vegetarian cauliflower taco is also addictive. An expanded brunch is entering the mix starting this month. Rooftop food service is also in the works.

Chicken tinga (left) in a taco trio order.
Cortez [official photo]

8. Taqueria Nacional

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1409 T St NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 299-1122
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When she relocated power dining spot Johnny’s Half Shell from the its perch on Capitol Hill to Adams Morgan. the underrated taco shop James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef Ann Cashion created in the back moved too, setting up shop as a standalone eatery on T Street NW. The updated Taqueria Nacional fills its freshly made corn tortillas (never flour) with everything from grilled steak and marinated lamb to fried squash blossoms (when in season).

A fried squash blossom taco at Taqueria Nacional.
Taqueria Nacional/Facebook

9. El Techo

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606 Florida Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 836-4270
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At this bright and breezy rooftop hot spot in Shaw, customers are privy to mezcal cocktails and Cajun-rubbed shrimp tacos, topped with house-made pico de gallo and a choice of sauces (verde, chimichurri, roja, and loco). Downstairs sibling Rito Loco deals in build-your-own burritos and rice bowls.

Shrimp taco at El Techo.
Loudmouth Creative Co./El Techo

10. Espita Mezcaleria

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1250 9th St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 621-9695
Visit Website

This hip destination for Mexican fare and tons of mezcal is still going strong two years in; general manager Josh Phillips told Eater he’s actively looking for a second location in D.C. Try the tacos de alitas with chicken wings, lime cashew crema, and pickled celery, or the seasonal queso fundido with ramps, trumpet mushrooms, asparagus, and a slow-cooked egg. The upscale operation is also a family affair; Robert Aikens, Phillips’s brother-in-law, was hired last year from the Rainbow Room in Rockefeller Center

The scene at Espita.
Espita Mezcaleria [Facebook]

11. District Taco (Multiple locations)

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1919 M St NW
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 888-9898
Visit Website

A homegrown favorite, this eatery serves breakfast tacos at all of its locations. Options include basic breakfast tacos with eggs, cheese, and potatoes as well as veggie tacos with pinto beans, cheese, sautéed onions, and green peppers. They’re served all day, every day. Another great bet (at $3 each or three for $8): the al pastor filled with roast pork and pineapple.

District Tacos start at $3 and beers are $5.
District Taco [Facebook]

12. Taco Bamba (Multiple locations)

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777 I St. NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 289-7377
Visit Website

It took five years, but restaurateur Victor Albisu has finally delivered D.C.’s first full-time Taco Bamba restaurant. The updated version of his cult taqueria — which features new menu items, specialty cocktails, and playful art on the walls — delivers a mean lineup of quirky concoctions like a Sid Vicious (a spin on fish and chips) with crispy cod, malt vinegar salsa macha, mint tomatillo slaw, and tartar.

The Sid Vicious taco at Taco Bamba.
Taco Bamba [official photo]

13. Oyamel

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401 7th St NW
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 628-1005
Visit Website

If its legendary grasshopper tacos aren’t your thing, Jose Andres’ whimsical Oaxacan eatery has lots of other $4.50 options at the ready. Try the Yucatán-style pit barbecued Rocky Hollow Farms pork with Mexican sour orange and pickled red onion, or one with braised, roasted and grilled local brisket in a house-made tortilla with salsa verde, onions, and cilantro.

14. Taqueria el Poblano (Multiple locations)

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2400 Mt Vernon Ave
Alexandria, VA 22301
(703) 548-8226
Visit Website

This homegrown chain covers all the bases, serving taco favorites (seasoned pork, beer-battered fish, grilled vegetables) along with upscale proteins including roast duck and fluffy sweet lobster meat. There’s also grilled shrimp drizzled with avocado sauce, pineapple-studded al pastor tacos, and shredded chicken stuffed into crunchy shells.

Lobster tacos at Taqueria Poblano.
Mari A./Yelp

1. Mezcalero

3714 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20010
Assorted tacos at Mezcalero.
Mezcalero/Facebook

This street food-centric taqueria fills its tortillas (corn or flour) with over a dozen featured ingredients. Combinations range from shrimp and avocado or mushrooms with goat cheese to the extra hearty campechano (chorizo and steak mixed with potatoes) as well as blackened fish smothered in spicy slaw.

3714 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20010

2. Taqueria Habanero

3710 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20010
Taqueria Habanero’s al pastor, shrimp, and barbacoa tacos.
Taqueria Habanero [Yelp]

This festive Petworth eatery is a casual and cool destination inspired by cuisine from Puebla, Mexico. Its native Mexican owners serve hits like tinga poblana (shredded chicken and sausage) and tilapia-filled tacos.

3710 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20010

3. El Chucho

3313 11th St NW, Washington, DC 20010
Assorted tacos at El Chucho.
El Chucho/Facebook

Whether they come for the boozy tequila drinks or the chance to soak up some rays on the spacious rooftop deck, confidence is high that every customer that walks into this Columbia Heights mainstay isn’t leaving without polishing off at least one of the kitchen’s inventive tacos. Fillings range from familiar (beer can-chicken, marinated pork) to adventurous (grilled octopus, braised beef tongue).

3313 11th St NW
Washington, DC 20010

4. Mayahuel

2609 24th St NW, Washington, DC 20008
Assorted tacos at Mayahuel.
Simo Ahmadi/Photography by Simo

This colorful Day of the Dead-themed eatery is worth the trek up to Woodley Park. A best seller is the trio of beef tongue tacos; the meat is braised four hours and served with habanero-mango salsa, fresh mango, chopped white onion, fresh cilantro, and lime wedges.

2609 24th St NW
Washington, DC 20008

5. El Tamarindo

1785 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC 20009
El Tamarindo
Carla Sanchez/El Tamarindo

Shredded chicken tacos are the name of the game at this funky taqueria, which hosts a booming Taco Tuesday with $3 to $4 tacos and drink specials.

1785 Florida Ave NW
Washington, DC 20009

6. El Rey

919 U St NW, Washington, DC 20001
The buzzing scene at El Rey, which features a retractable roof.
El Rey [Facebook]

While its tacos sometimes emerge a bit greasy, this U Street fixture fashioned from shipping containers is a happening pregame spot for splurges like Thai shrimp and adobo chicken tacos. Wash them all down with $6 micheladas. Note: the super busy spot declines substitutions.

919 U St NW
Washington, DC 20001

7. Cortez

1905 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001
Chicken tinga (left) in a taco trio order.
Cortez [official photo]

This airy and turquoise tequila bar transports diners to the coasts of Baja, California. Espita Mezcaleria alum Alexis Samayoa mans the kitchen, slinging chicken tinga with a generous lumps of shredded chicken, and his vegetarian cauliflower taco is also addictive. An expanded brunch is entering the mix starting this month. Rooftop food service is also in the works.

1905 9th St NW
Washington, DC 20001

8. Taqueria Nacional

1409 T St NW, Washington, DC 20009
A fried squash blossom taco at Taqueria Nacional.
Taqueria Nacional/Facebook

When she relocated power dining spot Johnny’s Half Shell from the its perch on Capitol Hill to Adams Morgan. the underrated taco shop James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef Ann Cashion created in the back moved too, setting up shop as a standalone eatery on T Street NW. The updated Taqueria Nacional fills its freshly made corn tortillas (never flour) with everything from grilled steak and marinated lamb to fried squash blossoms (when in season).

1409 T St NW
Washington, DC 20009

9. El Techo

606 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001
Shrimp taco at El Techo.
Loudmouth Creative Co./El Techo

At this bright and breezy rooftop hot spot in Shaw, customers are privy to mezcal cocktails and Cajun-rubbed shrimp tacos, topped with house-made pico de gallo and a choice of sauces (verde, chimichurri, roja, and loco). Downstairs sibling Rito Loco deals in build-your-own burritos and rice bowls.

606 Florida Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001

10. Espita Mezcaleria

1250 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001
The scene at Espita.
Espita Mezcaleria [Facebook]

This hip destination for Mexican fare and tons of mezcal is still going strong two years in; general manager Josh Phillips told Eater he’s actively looking for a second location in D.C. Try the tacos de alitas with chicken wings, lime cashew crema, and pickled celery, or the seasonal queso fundido with ramps, trumpet mushrooms, asparagus, and a slow-cooked egg. The upscale operation is also a family affair; Robert Aikens, Phillips’s brother-in-law, was hired last year from the Rainbow Room in Rockefeller Center

1250 9th St NW
Washington, DC 20001

11. District Taco (Multiple locations)

1919 M St NW, Washington, DC 20036
District Tacos start at $3 and beers are $5.
District Taco [Facebook]

A homegrown favorite, this eatery serves breakfast tacos at all of its locations. Options include basic breakfast tacos with eggs, cheese, and potatoes as well as veggie tacos with pinto beans, cheese, sautéed onions, and green peppers. They’re served all day, every day. Another great bet (at $3 each or three for $8): the al pastor filled with roast pork and pineapple.

1919 M St NW
Washington, DC 20036

12. Taco Bamba (Multiple locations)

777 I St. NW, Washington, DC 20001
The Sid Vicious taco at Taco Bamba.
Taco Bamba [official photo]

It took five years, but restaurateur Victor Albisu has finally delivered D.C.’s first full-time Taco Bamba restaurant. The updated version of his cult taqueria — which features new menu items, specialty cocktails, and playful art on the walls — delivers a mean lineup of quirky concoctions like a Sid Vicious (a spin on fish and chips) with crispy cod, malt vinegar salsa macha, mint tomatillo slaw, and tartar.

777 I St. NW
Washington, DC 20001

13. Oyamel

401 7th St NW, Washington, DC 20004

If its legendary grasshopper tacos aren’t your thing, Jose Andres’ whimsical Oaxacan eatery has lots of other $4.50 options at the ready. Try the Yucatán-style pit barbecued Rocky Hollow Farms pork with Mexican sour orange and pickled red onion, or one with braised, roasted and grilled local brisket in a house-made tortilla with salsa verde, onions, and cilantro.

401 7th St NW
Washington, DC 20004

14. Taqueria el Poblano (Multiple locations)

2400 Mt Vernon Ave, Alexandria, VA 22301
Lobster tacos at Taqueria Poblano.
Mari A./Yelp

This homegrown chain covers all the bases, serving taco favorites (seasoned pork, beer-battered fish, grilled vegetables) along with upscale proteins including roast duck and fluffy sweet lobster meat. There’s also grilled shrimp drizzled with avocado sauce, pineapple-studded al pastor tacos, and shredded chicken stuffed into crunchy shells.

2400 Mt Vernon Ave
Alexandria, VA 22301

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