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Taqueria Nacional
Taqueria Nacional
Photo: R. Lopez

Taco Heat Map: Tempting New Tacos to Try NOW

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Taqueria Nacional
| Photo: R. Lopez

These days taco shops are popping up all over DC. Also, several new restaurants and menus are pushing the boundaries of this Mexican favorite.

Whether the tacos are gluten free or served straight from a bag of Fritos, there are plenty of options for the taco lover.

In this Eater map, there are chefs staying true to traditional favorites, like carne asada, beef tongue, and tripe, and others experimenting with the tortilla, building Korean, Japanese, and even Greek-inspired tacos.

To the tacos map!
—Tim Ebner

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Agua 301

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Looking for the heat? Then head to Agua 301 and try the kimchi taco. It comes served with carne, kimchi, cotija cheese and a citrus aioli sauce.

Bidwell

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Bidwell opened this month, and already an early favorite is the lobster taco. Chef John Mooney uses tomatoes from his own garden to make the avocado-tomatillo sauce that tops the dish. The verde sauce is just one of many ingredients that he grows and picks on his own. In the spring, Mooney will really get to work when he plants a variety of produce items on the restaurant’s roof.

El Centro D.F.

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For something a little less traditional, head to the Georgetown branch of El Centro DF. The Greek taco is their take on a souvlaki sandwich. It comes with grilled chicken, chipotle yogurt, cucumber and is served on a pita bread tortilla.

El Rey

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El Rey is U Street’s newest taqueria and outdoor beer garden. And already, people are lining up (there’s a takeout window) to try Chef Jorge Pimentel’s tacos. Soft shell tortillas are made by hand, and there’s a gluten free variety. The carne asada with charred beef, radishes, cilantro, and onion is an early frontrunner. It’s a simple, classic taco that costs $3.

Far East Taco Grille

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Far East Taco Grille went from food truck to Capitol Hill restaurant this September. The restaurant concept is much the same as the food truck. First, pick a protein -- pork, chicken, steak, or tofu -- then dress it up with sauces and coleslaw.

Fish Taco

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Food Wine & Co.'s owners recently opened a fish taco shop. The Cabin John taqueria features four different kinds of seafood tacos, including a blackened fish taco with chili lime mayo, cabbage, and grilled pineapple.

Impala Cantina at the Pug

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While you wait for the official opening of Impala Cantina on H Street, head on over to The Pug on Tuesday nights to try their Impalocas. It’s a non-traditional take on the taco. Instead of a soft-shell tortilla, you get lengua, pork, or a veggie mix inside a Fritos or Doritos bag. The dish costs $5 and the whole thing comes smothered in beans, cheese, pico de gallo, and salsa.

Taco Bamba

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For an authentic Mexican taco, order the crispy tripe (small beef intestines) taco at Victor Albisu’s Taco Bamba. And for something more pedestrian, El Gringo, a taco with beef, bacon, American cheese, lettuce, and ranch dressing, might be the one.

TaKorean

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The latest addition at TaKorean is a pulled pork taco that packs a spicy punch. That’s because the taco uses Ssamjang sauce, a spicy Korean chili pepper paste. It can be found at TaKorean’s Union Market stall or on any food truck stop.

Taqueria Nacional

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Taqueria Nacional has a new bison tongue taco that apparently sells pretty fast. “By the end of the weekend, we’re usually all out,” says manger Dot Steck. The bison tongue comes from a farm in Virginia and usually arrives by Thursdays. They braise it, and serve it with cilantro, onions, and pico de gallo. Another taco special, the root vegetable taco, is vegetarian approved. It uses seasonal and organic beets, parsnips, carrots, and rutabaga.

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Agua 301

Looking for the heat? Then head to Agua 301 and try the kimchi taco. It comes served with carne, kimchi, cotija cheese and a citrus aioli sauce.

Bidwell

Bidwell opened this month, and already an early favorite is the lobster taco. Chef John Mooney uses tomatoes from his own garden to make the avocado-tomatillo sauce that tops the dish. The verde sauce is just one of many ingredients that he grows and picks on his own. In the spring, Mooney will really get to work when he plants a variety of produce items on the restaurant’s roof.

El Centro D.F.

For something a little less traditional, head to the Georgetown branch of El Centro DF. The Greek taco is their take on a souvlaki sandwich. It comes with grilled chicken, chipotle yogurt, cucumber and is served on a pita bread tortilla.

El Rey

El Rey is U Street’s newest taqueria and outdoor beer garden. And already, people are lining up (there’s a takeout window) to try Chef Jorge Pimentel’s tacos. Soft shell tortillas are made by hand, and there’s a gluten free variety. The carne asada with charred beef, radishes, cilantro, and onion is an early frontrunner. It’s a simple, classic taco that costs $3.

Far East Taco Grille

Far East Taco Grille went from food truck to Capitol Hill restaurant this September. The restaurant concept is much the same as the food truck. First, pick a protein -- pork, chicken, steak, or tofu -- then dress it up with sauces and coleslaw.

Fish Taco

Food Wine & Co.'s owners recently opened a fish taco shop. The Cabin John taqueria features four different kinds of seafood tacos, including a blackened fish taco with chili lime mayo, cabbage, and grilled pineapple.

Impala Cantina at the Pug

While you wait for the official opening of Impala Cantina on H Street, head on over to The Pug on Tuesday nights to try their Impalocas. It’s a non-traditional take on the taco. Instead of a soft-shell tortilla, you get lengua, pork, or a veggie mix inside a Fritos or Doritos bag. The dish costs $5 and the whole thing comes smothered in beans, cheese, pico de gallo, and salsa.

Taco Bamba

For an authentic Mexican taco, order the crispy tripe (small beef intestines) taco at Victor Albisu’s Taco Bamba. And for something more pedestrian, El Gringo, a taco with beef, bacon, American cheese, lettuce, and ranch dressing, might be the one.

TaKorean

The latest addition at TaKorean is a pulled pork taco that packs a spicy punch. That’s because the taco uses Ssamjang sauce, a spicy Korean chili pepper paste. It can be found at TaKorean’s Union Market stall or on any food truck stop.

Taqueria Nacional

Taqueria Nacional has a new bison tongue taco that apparently sells pretty fast. “By the end of the weekend, we’re usually all out,” says manger Dot Steck. The bison tongue comes from a farm in Virginia and usually arrives by Thursdays. They braise it, and serve it with cilantro, onions, and pico de gallo. Another taco special, the root vegetable taco, is vegetarian approved. It uses seasonal and organic beets, parsnips, carrots, and rutabaga.

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