Renowned chef Victor Albisu announces August 28 as the eagerly awaited grand opening date for Taco Bamba’s Raleigh, NC location. Located in The Ridgewood Shopping Center on Wade Ave, this will be the first Taco Bamba spot outside the Washington, D.C. metro area. Widely known for its inventive and generously-stuffed tacos and tortas, deep mezcal-focused bar, and bold design and soundtrack, Taco Bamba began ten years ago as a hole-in-the-wall Northern Virginia strip mall carryout. After quickly earning a name for itself with its flavors and hospitality, Taco Bamba has grown to over ten locations in the D.C. suburbs and Raleigh, with future openings planned in Nashville, Tenn., Richmond, Va, and a return to D.C. proper.
To celebrate its opening, Taco Bamba will be giving away a free taco a week for a year to the first 100 guests who place an order in person.
“Our opening date is almost here, and I hope Raleigh is as excited as we are,” Albisu says. “We’re proud to join such a strong and welcoming restaurant community. We’ve had business connections to the city for several years, and in that time have grown to love and appreciate the diverse community and restaurant scene. Raleigh is obviously a taco town, and we’re excited to bring our brand of tacos, tortas, empanadas, and cocktails.”
On The Menu
Taco Bamba’s menu honors traditional flavors and cooking methods with a selection of classics like chicken tinga, al pastor, carne asada, and barbacoa, but its most famous dishes diverge from taco tradition. While that includes originals that are available at every location, like the signature Taco Bamba (skirt steak, chorizo, grilled guacamole, chicharrones) and the Spicy Shroom (chipotle portobellos, grilled corn, pepitas), the headliners are always tacos unique to the specific location. In Raleigh, that means the Wolfpack Poutine, with sweet potato fries, white BBQ, pimento cheese, jalapeño onion salad, and spiced pecans. Taserface tops Bamba brisket suadero with salsa macha, and sweet and spicy pickled chiles. Cheerwine BBQ bacon carnitas is the star of the Sweet Baby Jesus, which also features chipotle mustard, jalapeño slaw, and tomatillo chow chow in a flour tortilla.
The menu in Raleigh will include Taco Bamba’s new clean-style tacos, a carb-free option allowing guests to skip the tortilla in favor of a crisp cabbage cup. Clean-style tacos are a response to the restaurant’s much-loved dirty-style option, in which any traditional taco filling can be served on a flour tortilla griddled with cheese and topped with a signature sweet chili sauce. Among the non-taco options can be found Bamba ceviche and a potato salad with sweet corn esquites, along with classics like Mexican street corn, and posole rojo.
Taco Bamba’s tortas and quesadillas have almost as many fans as their tacos. The super-sized Torta Bamba is a big-as-your-head sandwich available at all locations that barely contains carne asada, chorizo, al pastor, ham, hot dog, beef and chicken milanesa, black beans, Chihuahua cheese, pineapple, avocado, and pickled jalapeño (yeah, it’s a lot). Selections that are both unique to Raleigh and far more reasonable for a single diner to take on include the Sir Walter Raleigh, with Carolina-style beef Frank, spiced ground beef, chili sauce, queso, and chipotle mustard. Garlic herb cream cheese spread, cucumber, roasted bell peppers, and avocado are the star of the vegetarian Feet Fleet. Vegetarians will also be thrilled by the Big Fat Mexican, a quesadilla packed with a roasted walnut mushroom “chorizo” and grilled corn.
Behind The Bar
In the Northern Virginia and Maryland suburbs of D.C., Taco Bamba has become known for its hidden gem cocktail bars. Tucked into unassuming strip malls and shopping centers, each location contains a killer bar serving creative mezcal-focused cocktails. In addition to great margaritas, sangria, and micheladas, bartenders in Raleigh will be pouring the Disco Diablo, a mule featuring a choice of tequila, vodka, or bourbon with a cherry basil syrup, lime and ginger beer. The Pink Pantera is a spin on the classic paloma with mezcal, pamplemousse rosé, fresno, orange-scented agave, and pink grapefruit soda. Gin, strawberry lemongrass cordial, and elderflower tonic meet in the Permanent Tanlines.
As part of its opening celebrations, Taco Bamba’s Raleigh location will be participating in the restaurant’s annual “bar crawl,” with cocktail specials, and collectible glassware on offer every Wednesday in September, kicking off September 6.
Albisu and his team worked with Raleigh-based New City Design Group to import Taco Bamba’s signature bold black and red design with unique murals to the Ridgewood Shopping Center. Interior and exterior artwork featuring Taco Bamba’s rooster mascot grace a 2,500-square-foot space seating 54inside, including a 10-seat full-service bar ringing to a soundtrack of hip-hop, and rock. The bar will connect the front entry to a large, covered, raised deck, which will seat an additional 50 overlooking a hillside, which will eventually offer additional outdoor seating.