Chaia, a fast-casual vegetarian taco restaurant with two locations in Washington, D.C., is expanding to downtown Bethesda as a pop-up.
Chaia will open in the fall at 7237 Woodmont Ave., next to the Landmark Bethesda Row Cinema, according to a press release from the company.
Chaia’s taco menu includes braised mushroom; creamy kale and potato; roasted green eggplant; and chipotle sweet potato hash. Tacos are $4.50 each, or $13 for a trio.
Chaia also serves enchiladas and green rice for $13, along with quesadillas and tostadas.
Suzanne Simon and Bettina Stern founded Chaia as a farmer’s market stand in 2013. It has since grown to brick-and-mortar restaurants in D.C.’s Chinatown and Georgetown neighborhoods.
Stern said in the press release that they are pleased about the future Bethesda restaurant’s location near the Capital Crescent Trail.
“We’re joining a community that’s as passionate about health as we are, making it the ideal venue for us to test fresh ideas that will move our mission forward in a big way,” she said.
In an interview with Bethesda Beat on Tuesday, Stern said that they have “forever” wanted to put a restaurant in Bethesda.
“We’ve had many customers that have been begging for a long time, ‘When are you coming to Bethesda?’” she said.
The pop-up shop will differ from the D.C. locations in that the food will be prepared in a commissary at the Chinatown location and will then be brought to the restaurant, Stern said.
Chaia has signed a one-year lease for the Bethesda space, Stern said. If things work out there, she hopes can stay in Bethesda longer, and build out the space more.
Chaia is 100% vegetarian. It partners with local farmers to grow the vegetables used in the tacos. Tacos and side items can be prepared vegan, according to the website.
Stern said Chaia differs from other “plant-forward” concepts in that it doesn’t serve processed foods such as Beyond Meat or Impossible Burger. She said the concept was unconventional when they started the business eight years ago, and still is today.
“We were not sure if people would respond to a butternut squash taco,” she said.
Chaia takes over the space on Aug. 1. Stern said they hope to be open six weeks from then, but no firm date has been set.
Dan Schere can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org