By: Laurie Wallin
Capital Cooking Contributor
On Saturday, May 3, Del Campo restaurant hosted the “Bamba Bowl,” where three of DC’s hottest taco joints – Taco Bamba, Oyamel, and Casa Oaxaca – battled it out for guest votes and the glory of winning ‘best taco!’ This event took place on Del Campo’s patio on a beautiful DC spring day and between the tacos and drinks, was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon in our Nation’s Capital and kick off Cinco de Mayo.
First up was Casa Oaxaca’s Tacos de Cochito – suckling pig carnitas, pickled red onion, corn tortilla, and grilled pineapple-habanero salsa. Casa Oaxaca Chef Alfio Blangiardo delighted guests with this popular choice by cutting the meat straight from the suckling pig head that decorated Casa Oaxaca’s table. The sweet pork nicely balanced the pickled onions and paired nicely with the pineapple-habanero salsa.
Oyamel’s Colin King featured a local dry aged brisket topped with salsa verde, onions, and cilantro. Great the first time around, I sampled this particular taco twice and found the second one to actually be juicier than the first. I was pleased to find that the salsa verde complemented, not overwhelmed, the tender brisket.
Chef Victor Albisu’s Taco Bamba featured two different tacos; first, a Taco de Tinga de Pollo – roasted tomato and chipotle stewed chicken and a Taco de Hongos Silvestres y Chorizo Mexicano – local wild mushroom and Mexican chorizo taco. Taco Bamba’s Taco de Tinga de Pollo was my favorite – the stewed chicken was tender and delicious and the chipotle sauce added just the right amount of kick. This taco is the reason my vote went to Taco Bamba.
What better to accompany tacos than margaritas? J.P. Caceres, creator of Del Campo’s drink menu, delighted guests with his delicious frozen margaritas. His margarita, made with cooked purple corn syrup, triple sec, lime juice, tequila and topped with fresh mint leaves, was extremely refreshing! The house margarita was also a hit.
As if the tacos and drinks weren’t enough, Del Campo also passed around nachos and grilled corn with garlic aioli and parmesan cheese. Beautifully charred, I couldn’t get enough of the corn.
Although my favorite taco – and ultimately, my vote – was Taco Bamba’s Taco de Tinga de Pollo, it was Oyamel that took home the crown of ‘best taco’ that afternoon. I understand why this won the guest vote – the brisket was phenomenal. Well deserved, Oyamel!