When it comes to Mexican food and tacos, I’m a big fan! And a recent influx of interesting Tex-Mex, higher end Mexican eats and bars have made the food scene really interesting in the Triangle. Over the last several years, we’ve added Torchy’s, A’Verde, Superica, Mezcalito, and more. The latest entry into the Mexican restaurant list for the area is the new Taco Bamba at the Ridgewood Shopping Center in Raleigh! Brought to you by Chef Victor Albisu, this Washington, DC chain (13 locations) has a reputation for its imaginative taco offerings and breakfast. So I was excited to hear about it finally opening and have been able to stop in for a couple of lunch visits.
Taco Bamba, Raleigh – Location and Interior
The new Taco Bamba sits in the busy Ridgewood Shopping Center on Wade Avenue near the I-440 intersection. Anchored by Whole Foods on one end, Taco Bamba sits in a new, stand-alone space at the other end. The large lot is usually only half-full but you will have to walk over to Taco Bamba a bit since it sits in a high-traffic spot near an entrance with limited parking. But given this space was custom built for the restaurant, it’s the perfect space for this taqueria!
Inside Taco Bamba, you’ll find an interior dominated by reds, blacks, and natural woods. Red-lacquered metal chairs on small 2-tops and 4-tops fill the room. Usually rock music is pumping out of the speakers overhead given the restaurant a more edgy and raucous feel. There’s a bar to the right where you can sit and get a full service meal and to the left, the main indoors dining area and order counter. What makes Taco Bamba really nice is a large covered patio behind the building which probably doubles its seating.
Taco Bamba, Raleigh – Menu and Food
Now what to order at Taco Bamba’s, hmmm? A quick scan of the menu overhead by the cash registers turns up a large range of meal choices organized by: breakfast, traditional tacos, special house tacos (quirky names here), tortas, crispy things, bowls, and sweets from $4 to $15. Tacos offer up 12 different protein types (wow) and are available also as sopes, cups-bowls, and taco kits (4) with tortillas on the side. It’s a lot to look at and so it might take some time to figure out what to order! Start with the chips and queso (served in a paper bag) along with some of their house hot sauces (verde, taquera, morita, arbol) which comes in a nice array of colors and flavors. The chips are thick and bubbly making for some good dipping.
For appetizers I’ve done the garlic wings which are cooked twice. Baked first and then finished off on the grill for some really excellent flavor and serious garlickiness! The Queen Bee taco is a great choice if you enjoy crunchy chicken, honey, and bacon candy, pretty unusual. And the Gringo seems popular since it’s a basic taco featuring ground beef, ranch, pico de gallo, and lettuce on a mini-cheese quesadilla. The tacos at Taco Bamba are over-sized, probably about 6″ inches across and well-filled, two to three should definitely fill you up!
One other nice touch to the Taco Bamba menu is the addition of breakfast items! Given they open at 9am, Taco Bamba offers breakfast tacos, huevos ranchero, and chilaquiles for you early birds. I tried the Migas taco with egg, crema, pico de gallo, and bacon which was nicely prepared, stuffed with soft scrambled egg, and filling. I definitely need to explore more off of this menu, Taco Bamba offers up free coffee for breakfast diners.
Taco Bamba, Raleigh – Service and Conclusion
Service at Taco Bamba is efficient, I’ve eaten at the bar a couple of times and staff has been engaged and helpful. The staff is eager to answer any questions you may have about Taco Bamba’s quirky offerings and flavor combinations. Note that since Taco Bamba is chef-driven, menu items will rotate on-off the menu as needed so some of the items mentioned here may or may not be available when you visit. Note also that the food is served in a ToGo fashion so expect paper containers and plastic sauce cups, a very casual presentation.
In our world of fancier tacos and Mexican eats, Taco Bamba does a great job. We’ve seen a surge of higher end, fancier Mexican eats and tacos over the past few years in the Triangle and Taco Bamba holds its own in that sense. While there are higher-end Mexican restaurants like A’verde in Cary, Taco Bamba fills a nice gap in the middle layer and is more similar to Torchy’s Tacos. Expect your meal to be in the $15 to $25 range. With a menu of creative tacos, appetizers along with the option for adult bevvies and sit-down service at the bar, Taco Bamba is a good option for a spicy, flavorful, and affordable meal.