Chef Victor Albisu - Proprietor / Taco Bamba (Jonathan Timmes)

Taco the Town

In April 2023, Eat by Lauren KruchtenLeave a Comment

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Lettuce, rejoice! NoVa-based taqueria Taco Bamba is headed to Raleigh.

Move over, Austin—Raleigh is coming for your title of America’s best taco city (!). While the City of Oaks already ranked a cool No. 12 on Clever Real Estate’s 2022 list of top taco towns, it was the only East Coast city listed in the top 15 (all, save one Midwest outlier, were West Coast, natch)—and no doubt this news ups the ante for our fair city’s 2023 rank.

Even NoVa-based Taco Bamba recognizes Raleigh’s taco allure. The uberpopular fast-casual taqueria with a cultlike following chose Ridgewood Shopping Center for its first location outside the DC metro area, slated to open this summer—and adding to our town’s fast-growing catalog of tempting taco spots (see: Leroy’s Tacos n Beer, Gym Tacos, Chido Taco, etc.). 

“Raleigh is a taco town,” says Taco Bamba chef-owner Victor Albisu in an exclusive interview with Raleigh Magazine, “and it’s a town that’s really receptive to creative eating and food.” … And Albisu is confident that Raleighites will welcome Taco Bamba’s unexpected yet unique offerings with open arms—and stomachs.

Taco Bamba
Get a taste of Taco Bamba’s eclectic menu during its one-night-only pop-up at Junction West on April 26. (Greg Powers)

Shaking up your taco Tuesday, the taqueria is best known for its assortment of house tacos starring out-of-the-box ingredients—from ramen (yes, really) to fried chicken to beef tongue—which vary by location. The Raleigh outpost will feature its own slew of unique tacos, tortas and empanadas—in addition to Bamba’s all-day breakfast program feat. breakfast tacos and free coffee offered until midafternoon. NTM a full-service bar with a focus on agave spirits (tequilas, mezcal) to elevate happy hour. 

The diverse menu—which also features traditional tacos, quesadillas, chips and queso, and the like—pushes the boundaries of standard Mexican fare and allows the Bamba team to experiment with and introduce different flavors, textures and ingredients while connecting a myriad of cultures. So, shelling out an exotic foodie tour, if you will.

“My intention is not to scale one menu—my intention is to scale a style of food we own and believe in,” explains Albisu. “It’s been a really incredible journey putting a team together and creating a new style of food and a new style of taqueria. We never have an issue creating a new menu. That’s the engine that drives us—the thing that keeps us growing.”

The other star worth shellebrating (had to) will be its expansive patio (!), which Albisu says will serve as the main dining area—and feature accessibility to the main bar. Albisu also maintains Bamba’s products drive the eatery’s environment, with each location boasting its own identity in an effort to “adhere to a neighborhood, and have the neighborhood identify with us,” he says. Translation: Raleigh’s Bamba will stand out from the rest of the existing eight locations, especially with it being the taqueria’s first endeavor into a wholly new market.

“This is probably the most exciting time for our little company that’s growing,” says Albisu. “We’re really hoping to connect and be able to grow in Raleigh and beyond. … And we’re going to give it all we’ve got.” Taco ’bout an exciting time to be a taco-loving Raleighite. 

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