Taco Bamba, a local chain of taco restaurants in Northern Virginia, is opening its first Maryland location on Friday in Rockville’s Congressional Plaza shopping center.
Taco Bamba serves a variety of tacos, as well as torta sandwiches and other Mexican fare.
Chef Victor Albisu opened his first Taco Bamba restaurant in Falls Church, Va., eight years ago. The chain has since expanded to five locations in Northern Virginia and the new Rockville location.
Albisu also previously operated a Taco Bamba in D.C., but was forced to close it last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he told Bethesda Beat on Wednesday.
Albisu lives in Virginia, but has friends and family in Maryland. He thought Rockville would be an ideal place for expanding his business.
“Rockville in general has always been a big destination for restaurants. I come here all the time to eat and love the restaurants around this area,” he said.
The new restaurant features a dining area and bar that seat more than 60 people combined.
Customers can either order at a counter and have their food brought to them in the dining area, or order directly from the bar. In one section of the restaurant, customers can sit on metal stools near the kitchen and watch their food being prepared.
The Rockville Taco Bamba features “traditional tacos” such as carne asada, pork, shrimp, beef and slow-roasted goat for $3.50 each.
Separately, there is a “taco nuestros” (our tacos) section of the menu that includes tacos specific to the restaurant. Those include MoCo Crab (crab, spicy mayonnaise, slaw, mini fries), Dante’s Inferno (crispy beef burger, caramelized onion, jalapeno, cheese, steak sauce, pickles) and the Fredneck (barbecue pork, slaw, pickled onion, jalapeno).
There is a taco named the Mrs. Hogan (kalbi pork, gochujang, kimchi bacon fried rice, cucumber, radish). Albisu explained that first lady Yumi Hogan’s South Korean heritage inspired the ingredients for the taco named after her.
Albisu said Taco Bamba’s customers like that each location has a specific menu.
“Here, we’re doing a Montgomery County crab taco, the MoCo Crab, which is kind of a crab melt on a tortilla with a really nice slaw and crispy tortilla sticks. It’s delicious. It’s almost like a whole crab cake on a taco,” he said.
“We have a lot of stuff that’s relative to being in a new market. We like to have ethnic menus that are relative to that area. So, this is always gonna be Rockville’s menu and I hope people around here like it and really enjoy it and identify with it.”
In addition to tacos, Taco Bamba features other dishes such as torta sandwiches, quesadillas, enchiladas, and “Ocean City Ceviche” (grouper, crab, shrimp, avocado, pico de gallo). Those items are between $4 and $12, depending on the food.
Taco Bamba also serves craft cocktails made in-house, Albisu said. Those are between $7 and $9.
Taco Bamba will tentatively be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Those hours are subject to change, Albisu said.
Dan Schere can be reached at email@example.com