Photo by Deb Lindsey.


Alambre Taco with Grilled Steak at Ixtapalapa Taqueria

José and Teresa Valdivia, who own Taco Bar—the Gaithersburg taco stand within a gas station that food world insiders have thronged to since 2003—opened Ixtapalapa Taqueria in June 2017. The handsome (distressed wood, exposed brick, gleaming open kitchen), stand-alone, fast-casual restaurant, also in Gaithersburg, pays homage to the street food of the Valdivias’ hometown, Ixtapalapa, a borough of Mexico City.

Ixtapalapa Taqueria’s tacos are the stuff of dreams: Most simply feature an enormous pile of protein (such as chicken, slow-roasted marinated pork, tripe, grilled steak, shredded beef cheek and short rib) on top of two warm corn tortillas. You dress the tacos as you prefer from a fixings bar that includes three salsas (hot habanero, medium-spiced red, mild green), pickled red onions, chopped white onions, lime wedges, julienned radishes and chopped cilantro.

Our seal of approval goes to a taco that comes with more than just protein: the alambre taco, on which the meat of your choosing (go for the steak) is topped with bacon, grilled onions and red peppers, and melted Oaxaca cheese. It’s a blessed marriage of a taco and a cheesesteak.

Ixtapalapa Taqueria, 411 N. Frederick Ave., Gaithersburg; 240-702-0217;