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Exploring the local taco universe

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Posted on: July 10, 2024

By ALLAN WALTERS

The little white house at 4901 Decatur Street has been converted into the La Fondita restaurant.
Photo credit: Allan Walters

If it’s taco night, and you’re responsible for feeding a group of adventurous foodies who love tacos and are open to trying something a little out of the ordinary, then be glad you live in Hyattsville — the center of the DMV taco universe. Jump into your car and head to the intersection of Decatur Street and Kenilworth Avenue, where you can then drive in any direction for an amazing Mexican food experience. 

Start by heading east until you reach 5020 Edmonston Road, and you will find yourself at Taqueria La Placita. This is where you will find enough variety to satisfy any craving. As you walk in and look to the left you will see pictures of 30 different tacos on the wall. Point to what looks good and start building your order. They have all the standards — carne asada, pollo, and lengua — but my preferences usually run a little more obscure, so I opted for the cabeza (cow head) and the suadero (lean beef). One bite of the cabeza taco and I was back in San Antonio in the early ‘90s eating barbacoa tacos for breakfast. Don’t forget the sides — you will see stacks of homemade chicharron (fried pork skins) — and try the grilled nopales (cactus) and onions; they are great palate cleansers.

Next, head west until you see a little white house at 4901 Decatur Street that has been converted into the restaurant La Fondita. They will have plenty of options, but you should order their house special — the tacos al pastor. Succulent bits of seasoned pork that have been cooked until crispy mingle with grilled onions in a fresh corn tortilla. Buy a lot because these will go quick. Chicken tacos are another good bet — the meat is lean and mild, but when you spoon on the freshly made green salsa, the flavor of the taco is transformed.

If your taco basket is getting filled up and you want to try something a little different, head north to Taqueria Maria Bonita at 5612 Kenilworth Avenue. While you can, and should, order the tacos — the chorizo is the house favorite — the star of the show is the chicken milanesa torta. A seasoned chicken breast is flattened and fried, placed in a toasted soft roll and topped with an avocado spread, cotija cheese, shaved lettuce, and sliced tomato and onion. The creaminess of the avocado and cheese pair perfectly with the crispy chicken — the combination is so good that your “taco nights” may eventually turn into “torta nights.”

Since no meal is complete without dessert, head south to La Neveria Michoacana at 4527 Kenilworth Avenue for a

La Neveria Michoacana at 4527 Kenilworth Avenue offers a selection of over 40 different flavors of Mexican ice cream and popsicles.
Photo credit: Allan Walters

selection of over 40 different flavors of Mexican ice cream and popsicles. You should ask to try some of their more unique choices. Make sure you can handle the chamoy (a spicy, sweet and sour chili paste) in the mango sorbet. I usually go for a selection of different flavors, each in their own cups, which are then placed in drink trays to stay balanced while in the car. My favorites are the mora and queso (blackberries and cheese) and the pineapple and coconut. If you have someone in the car with you, the ice cream may disappear before you get back home — so plan wisely! 

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