WASHINGTON — Hold on to your seats people, and get ready to enjoy a lot more fourth meals: a Taco Bell Cantina is opening in Columbia Heights. For the uninitiated, the cantinas are the upscale little sister of the OG Bell, featuring trendy decor, shareable appetizers and, the real kicker, alcohol.
Yes, you read that right. At a Taco Bell Cantina, you can enjoy your spicy tostada with a boozy slushie (Baja Freeze, served with vodka, Tequila or Rum), wine, beer or sangria. Every Taco Bell Cantina location also serves one local beer, such as Fairwinds IPA that is served at the Taco Bell Cantina on King Street in Alexandria, which opened in December 2018.
TB enthusiasts will find classic items ranging from a crunchy taco to a crunchwrap supreme and Mexican pizza. But if you want to think outside the bun, try one of the items exclusively available at Cantina locations, such as the cheesy jalapeno dippers or naked chicken chips. The tapas-style menu also includes three types of nachos: chicken enchilada nachos, fiesta salad nachos, and steak and cheddar nachos.
Popular local instagrammer Taco Bell Sommelier described the chips as "deliciously fried and perfectly seasoned with fajita tasting spices." Tarun Sinha, who runs the account, recommends pairing the chicken chips with a Margarita Baja Freeze as the "citrus really balanced out the flavor of the chips."
Taco Bell Cantina will open in 2021 inside the 890,000-square-foot DC USA shopping mall at 3100 14th Street Northwest.
The first Taco Bell Cantina in the country debuted in Chicago in 2015. There are 35 cantina locations across the country currently, though Taco Bell said it has plans to open more than 300 by 2022.
Other than a Taco Bell inside Union Station, and two Taco Bell/KFC combo locations, D.C. proper does not currently boast any solo Taco Bells, so the Columbia Heights cantina will be the only stand-alone locale in the District. A Taco Bell at 14th and U Street Northwest previously closed in May 2011.
Now far be it from me to deny true Taco Bell lovers their quesaritos and chalupas, but if you really want to live mas, consider patronizing some of Columbia Heights authentic Mexican restaurants such as Mezcalero, El Chucho, Taqueria Habanero or Anafre.