Words by Kaylee Dugan, Photos by Clarissa Villondo
I don’t get into Virginia very often. There has to be something pretty great happening to make me take the time to grab a car and drive over the bridge. When I do find myself on that side of the river, I’m delighted by the quality of their strip malls. I’m from the suburbs too, so I know a gross, horrible looking strip mall can often hide some of the best food and booze around.
And that is especially true when it comes to Taco Bamba‘s newest location in Vienna. Now, this is not one of the falling apart strip malls we all know and love, this one is new and bright and clean and filled with all the fast casual eatery’s the kids are into these days. But ignore the Chop’t and Panera, the only reason to find your way this far up Maple Avenue is if you’re on the hunt for tacos.
Opening September 8, this location has a different menu from their well established Falls Church restaurant, including an entire menu of tostadas and nachos (just in case you’re not in the mood for nachos for some ungodly reason). But the biggest difference is their full service bar. Drinks at the new restaurant include classic margarita, and more inventive drinks like the Mexican Elvis (El Charro Blanco tequila, triple sec, watermelon aqua fresca, lime, and basil) and the Horchata Boracha (housemade horchata, Milagro Anejo tequila, Presidente Brandy, and cinnamon). While the Mexican Elvis is great for the few remaining weeks of warm weather, I can see the Horchata Boracha being a fall favorite with its spicy, more herbaceous notes.
While I didn’t get to go all out on their tacos (which is retrospect was probably good for my health) I can confidently tell you that the Bamba Balls Revenge and the Vienna Vape Shop are going to be favorites. The first features meatballs covered in anchos, cotija cheese, and Mexican pickles. The second is a taco stuffed with fries, Vienna sausage, rajas, cotija, and their salsa especial. Putting fries on anything is a good idea, bu mixing it with the creamy cotija makes it even better. If you’d prefer your taco to be a little more adventurous, the Black Sheep (which is actually a goat taco) comes topped with calamari escabeche, chilis, and is also black as night. It’s very heavy metal.
The space is bright and airy, with the rustic features that fast casual restaurants can’t seem to go without, with some bright, modern pops of red thrown in for good measure. It’s a nice space to sit down and enjoy a taco, or get drunk in the middle of the day.
If you want to explore other parts of the menu, the nachos come in huge portions and include both meat and vegetarian options. Or, you can grab a crunchy, crispy tostada. They also have bacon guacamole. Just let that sink in.