This year, Washington, D.C. saw a rise in number and popularity of taquerias. You could practically go on a citywide taco crawl. We’re living in the age of casual dining, and tacos fit right under that category. To help you celebrate National Taco Day, here are the best tacos in D.C.
Run by a husband and wife from Puebla, Mexico, Taqueria Habanero is as authentic as it gets. The restaurant offers everything from a fresh platter of chips, homemade red and green salsa, and a bowl of complimentary guacamole to handmade corn tortillas. Not to mention, it’s incredibly affordable. Tacos start at $2.50 and only go up to $3 for specialty ingredients such as shrimp, tilapia, and cactus. The juicy al pastor taco and the tinga poblana (shredded chicken and sausage) are highly recommended!
Oyamel, one of Jose Andres’ whimsical Oaxacan eatery, is more of an upscale cuisine ($4.50 for a taco) and a popular tourist spot in D.C. Its legendary grasshopper tacos are a must-try, but if you’re not up for it, definitely go for the Yucatán-style pit barbecued pork tacos or the braised, roasted, and grilled local brisket taco. This lively and casual restaurant has happy hour Monday through Friday from 4 to 6 p.m., so get there early for flavorful tacos and $7 margaritas.
Grab a quick breakfast taco or a cheap lunch at the crowd favorite, District Taco. They use fresh ingredients for their short and sweet menu, and despite the large portion sizes, it’s completely affordable. Most tacos are just 3 for $9, and if you go on a Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, or Sundays, get the fish taco. The grilled tilapia is marinated in chili peppers, lime, garlic, and salt and topped with strings of cabbage and chipotle mayonnaise (3 for $8.50). Did we mention there’s a homemade salsa bar?
If you’re looking for a fun pregame spot with great drinks and even better tacos, then try El Rey. Described as a “bar-meets-taqueria,” the restaurant has a small but tasty food menu and gets loud and full on the weekends. You can order a large portion of nachos topped with jalapeños, cheese sauce, and protein (pork, chicken, mushroom, steak, or seafood) for just $7 and tacos for $3. Their giant Thai shrimp tacos and the classic carne asada tacos are notable with extra salsa, topped with freshly chopped onion, pickled radish, and cilantro.
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At El Chuho, you’ll find loud music, a bustling rooftop, and inventive tacos such as the grilled octopus or braised beef tongue tacos. There’s happy hour all night long on Mondays where you can get 2 tacos for $3.50, draft margaritas for $4.50, and guacamole for $5. Moreover, the menu offers plenty of items for vegetarian and vegan friends to choose from, including the highly praised elote, or Mexican grilled corn. The pollo taco is also a fan favorite with its hand-shredded chicken, sofrito, and crumbled cotija cheese.
Chef Victor Albisu opened up the casual and affordable Taco Bamba earlier this year as a counter-serve storefront for takeout and quick stand-up dining. This modern take on tostadas, nachos, tacos, and cocktails has led to the creation of quirky dishes such as the Sid Vicious — crispy cod, malt vinegar salsa macha, mint tomatillo slaw, and tartar. Their tacos are cooked to perfection each with a generous amount of meat. The Black Pearl Taco is a go-to menu item: deep-fried, beer-battered tilapia, coated with spicy coleslaw, squid ink aioli, and avocado.
Lots of these taquerias offer takeout options. Live in Common’s beautiful coliving homes in Washington, D.C., and bring some back for a taco party with your suitemates. Find out more about our homes in D.C. here.