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Posted at 12:13 PM ET, 12/13/2010

Taco Underground? Toki folks pop up on H Street NE

By Lavanya Ramanathan

Carne asada and carnitas tacos are two of the offerings at the pop-up taco stand Tacos Impala on H Street NE. Two of Toki Underground's owners opened the stand while the restaurant is under construction. (Matthew J. Taylor for The Washington Post)

While the forthcoming ramen and dumpling restaurant Toki Underground gets its finishing touches -- it will likely open early next year in the space above the Pug on H Street -- a few of the principals have already started cooking: They've opened a "pop up" restaurant, a taco stand a few doors down at Philadelphia Water Ice.

The water-ice joint was closing for winter, and a trio of H Street entrepreneurs including Toki Underground's Erik Bruner-Yang and Troy Hickman approached the owner to turn the space into a limited-menu taco stand for a few months.Tacos Impala -- which you can find under the Philadelphia Water Ice sign at 1204 H St. NE, between 12th and 13th -- opened last week, and the plan is for the tacos to keep on coming till March 31.

The menu is simple: There are three tacos for $3 apiece, including a carnitas, carne asada and vegetarian version with beans and cojita cheese. Toppings including onions, cilantro and radishes are sprinkled atop hearty servings of meat or beans layered on two soft, housemade tortillas.

When we swung by for a taste, my dining companion said the meat on his carne asada (steak) and carnitas (pork) tacos was perfectly tender, though he preferred the carne; my veggie tacos were good, too. But both of us felt the rojo salsa (which costs 25 cents extra) deserved a rave: It was thick and flavorful, and complex enough that it seemed almost mole-like. It was perfect for lunch, but will be even better at 2 a.m. after a night of drinking -- yup, the stand will stay open into the early morning hours.

Tacos Impala opens at noon daily, and will stay open till about 10 p.m. on weekdays, and 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

By Lavanya Ramanathan  | December 13, 2010; 12:13 PM ET
Categories:  Restaurants  
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