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After a successful test run, Chef Victor Albisu opted to turn his South American steakhouse into the region’s fourth Taco Bamba this spring. The first location in D.C. proper opened April 6 in the former Del Campo space. It serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily.
There are ample traditional tacos on the menu to satisfy basic cravings, but if you want to enter beast mode, order the burger-taco hybrid the restaurant calls a “Royale with Cheese.”
The burger served on a flour tortilla instead of a bun features an all-beef patty that’s been seared on a griddle, then chopped. It’s topped with Chihuahua cheese, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, “pickle de gallo,” and Thousand Island dressing spiked with mezcal ($4.50). Chef Faiz Ally says the blast of boozy agave spirit cuts through the richness of the house-made dressing, giving the sauce some bite.
Ally explains that the Taco Bamba locations in Northern Virginia tried to serve a burger, but since it takes significantly longer to cook than the tacos, it was disrupting the timing of service. This burger taco is the answer. “Victor wanted a burger, we settled on this,” he says.
The tortilla is strong enough to contain the burger juices and thick layers of sauce that make it especially decadent. It’s everything you want in a burger, just in a different presentation.
Taco Bamba has a hobby of naming its tacos after movies, and this one is no different—it references a scene in Pulp Fiction. Another must-order only available on the D.C. menu is the “Mike Honcho.” The hat tip to Talladega Nights is a take on a chile relleno with an Anaheim chile stuffed with smoked brisket, Chihuahua cheese, rajas, nacho cheese, and poblano ranch dressing ($8).
Since you can’t pair your burger taco with a side of fries, opt for grilled Mexican street corn dressed in mayo, red chile, lime zest, and cotija cheese ($4) or rice and beans with a choice of black beans or pinto beans, yellow rice, pico de gallo, and cotija cheese ($4.25).
Try the burger taco for a quick lunch, or later at night when Taco Bamba morphs into a buzzy bar with a full cocktail list.
Taco Bamba is open Mondays through Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Taco Bamba, (202) 289-7377; 777 I St. NW; tacobamba.com