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Posted at 11:28 AM ET, 10/26/2007

Steal a (Chance to Talk About a) Taco

By Erin

Anybody who is watching the World Series -- or likes tacos -- has heard of the Taco Bell promotion "Steal a Base, Steal a Taco." The promotion went like this: If any player were to steal a base during the series, the national fast food chain would give away free crunchy seasoned beef tacos from 2 until 5 p.m. next Tuesday, Oct. 30. Well, during the fourth inning last night, Jacoby Ellsbury stole second, so free tacos are on the horizon. If you dream about scoring a $0.79 taco for free, this is your kind of promotion. Me, I'm excited that the spotlight is on the tortilla-wrapped package of Mexican deliciousness so that we can start chatting about where to get the area's best taco. Taco talk, if you will.

As a California girl, I have an affinity for the slightly greasy crunch of the crispy taco. I love the snap of the shell giving way to the juicy tomatoes, shredded lettuce and spicy meat filling. I could rarely go more than a few days without one in Los Angeles, but I am not so lucky here. I have only found one place that masters the art of the crispy taco: Taqueria Poblano. The L.A. crispy taco is available with cuminy chicken, spicy pork, vegetables or my favorite, chile-braised shredded beef. The restaurant also offers fantastic fish tacos, but I can never avoid the temptation of my beloved crispy taco.

For soft tacos, there are a few more options.

La Sirenita in Hyattsville offers fabulous, cheap tacos with fillings like tongue, beef, chicken and barbacoa (goat). A side of delicious guacamole will cost you something like $3.

Sure, Adams Morgan's most famous "Mexican" food may be the frozen-margarita-swilling perpetually-packed mayhem of Lauriol Plaza, but not too far up the road is a surefire bet for a fabulous taco. Tacos Pepitos Bakery II has a variety of fillings for $2.50. You can go for barbacoa, roast pork, carnitas, chorizo or venture into tongue or cow head. Just be sure to avoid the crispy tacos (labeled something along the lines of gringo tacos), which come in a shell way too reminiscent of stale cardboard. When Taco (or Tacos) is in the name, you can be confident that you're in the right place.

The same holds true in Columbia Heights at Taqueria Distrito Federal. The tacos, with a variety of meats, are $2 and come with a sprinkling of cilantro and radish with slices of onions and avocado. Fill the taco with goat, carne asada, chorizo, carnitas tongue, tripe and chicken.

On Capitol Hill, Taqueria Nacionale offers an escape from standard Hill lunch fare. Set just behind Johnny's Half Shell, the tiny takeout space packs in a crowd eager to get a beef, pork, chicken or fish taco wrapped in a corn tortilla. These tacos don't dazzle me quite as much as the aforementioned dive varieties. I haven't been overwhelmed by the tortillas and wish that the beef and chicken could burst with flavor as they do at La Sirenita and Distrito Federal. The exception was the fish taco, which was slathered with yogurty white sauce and topped with cabbage. My favorite thing is to kick up the spice with a few squirts of the three salsas.

These are my favorite tacos and they are quite affordable. Of course, if it's the free taco that you really want (or maybe a free taco to accompany your chalupa), there are plenty of the Bells around. By my estimation, there are around 19 locations within 10 miles of Dupont Circle.


By Erin  | October 26, 2007; 11:28 AM ET
Categories:  Restaurants  
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A site has gone up that asks you to donate your FREE Taco Bell taco in hopes that Taco Bell will add that value up as a donation to help the victims of the California wildfires. Donate your taco before 5pm on Tuesday!

Posted by: Mike | October 28, 2007 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Oh another city foodie taco review. I liked it the first time around... back in June of this year... in Zihuatanejo... by a man called Famous Fat Dave's.

Posted by: Andy Woo | October 30, 2007 12:29 AM | Report abuse

I couldn't agree more, the L.A. cripsy taco is the best I've had in the area. I'm powerless agaisnt it.

Posted by: Warren | October 30, 2007 10:07 AM | Report abuse

The tacos at Asylum in Adams Morgan are really good too. Maybe not the most "authentic", but still REALLY good.

And super cheap too.

Posted by: Michael Medlock | October 30, 2007 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Tippy's Taco's. Yummm

Posted by: DirtyHarry | October 30, 2007 10:50 AM | Report abuse

I second Tippy's.

Can't get enough!

Posted by: TacoFan | October 30, 2007 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Distrito Federal is not only delicious...their tacos are just like the authentic version served in Mexico, not some BS version with ground beef and/or shredded cheese.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 30, 2007 2:06 PM | Report abuse

TACO LAREDO in Falls Church (Annandale Rd and Hillwood). Homemade goodness that beats anything this side of the Rio Grande.

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | October 30, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Re: Distrito Federal. I agree that their tacos are delicious. My favorite, filled with tripa, are not tripe filled. Rather, they are filled with (small) intestines. You may wish to consult with the owner regarding the translation. I thought I had ordered tripe and mentioned to him that it was delicious but tasted nothing like tripe, and he confirmed that it was not. Not sure whether tripa is slang for chitterlings, or whether the menu is simply incorrect.

Posted by: Lobbert Morbid | October 30, 2007 3:47 PM | Report abuse

After hearing about it a number of times I went to Taqueria Poblano in Arlington recently to give it a try and was underwhelmed. I too like a crispy taco, so I got one L.A. Crispy style with each of the three types of meat. I found them all quite bland and overpriced - their hot sauces were on the uninspiring side too and didn't do much to change my mind. It's not that they were bad - just nothing to get too excited about in my opinion. Give me Guajillo anyday over that place - at least you get what you pay for there.

Posted by: Ballston | October 30, 2007 4:04 PM | Report abuse

The Taqueria taco may be great, but how could anyone know when it's on the same menu as that incredible pork burrito or their carne asada? I've been there like 50 times and haven't had a taco yet.

Posted by: Matt | October 30, 2007 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Some of my fav's in Arlington:

El Charrito Caminante - great, cheap tacos, burritos and yucca. I like their papusas.

Guajillo - Everything I have eaten there has been great. They also have a great selection of Tequila.

El Pollo Rico - Best chicken in the area.

Posted by: r0d | October 30, 2007 4:59 PM | Report abuse

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