All words: Farrah Skeiky
All photos: Stephanie Breijo
No matter how many instructions or Google Maps screen captures you’ve been sent in advance, you will surely make several wrong turns before finding Taco Bamba. Nestled in the far corner of the Idylwood Plaza Shopping Center and standing out with a bright red sign, Chef Victor Albisu’s newest venture is well worth the drive (and getting lost), dabbling in both traditional and modern taqueria fare in more aspects than one.
Let’s begin with the location. While the location is out of the way to be sure, it’s not so peculiar. Taco Bamba is meant to be a neighborhood spot. Idylwood Plaza also houses Plaza Latina, a Latin market owned by Albisu’s mother. This is where Albisu got his culinary start: helping at the butcher’s counter, stocking shelves, and getting a feel for the basics. Twenty years later, not only is he a few yards away, but his mother plays a significant role at the taqueria.
The other half of creating a genuine neighborhood eatery is pricing. Taco Bamba is shockingly affordable–traditional tacos are $3 for one or $8 for three, and the ever changing list of tacos nuestros bump up to $4. Tamales are $3, which is fantastic, because a tamale should never cost more than that. Making high quality traditional mexican fare accessible to the neighborhood, especially its large Latino population, is the smartest move Albisu could have made.
From start to finish, the meal is decadent. The guacamole features all grilled ingredients, yielding a smoky and savory flavor. And the traditional tacos could easily compete with the specialty ones– the tamales are simple and have plenty of heat (even without the green sauce), and the spicy Al Pastor is complimented by pineapple.
As for the nuestros, the Black Pearl (fried tilapia with creamy squid ink sauce) and Spicy Shroom (which is surprisingly smoky) are standouts. And for those of you who had taco night in your childhood home, El Gringo featuring bacon, a flour tortilla, and ranch dressing will emulate your “authentic” experience. And of course, the signature Taco Bamba itself boasts simple but well balanced flavors.
The menu also boasts a variety of non-taco items, from sides to traditional desserts. If you’re feeling adventurous, decadent, or simply really, really hungry, take on the Torta Bamba: stuffed with ham, hot dogs, enchilada, carne asada, chorizo, cheese, chicken milanesa, beef milanesa, pineapple and mayo. This monster of a meal could easily feed a family of four and still yield leftovers.
Rather stick to traditional fare? No problem. Taco Bamba is open for lunch, dinner, and soon breakfast–look forward to huevos rancheros and breakfast enchiladas.
Taco Bamba is located at 2190 Pimmit Drive in Falls Church, VA.