You know the drill: we open every write-up about a taqueria talking about what a tough time we’ve had finding good Mexican food in the DC area.  Since we started, we’ve received a couple of good recommendations, and we’ve been fortunate enough to find a few winners on our own.  At this point, I may be willing to concede that we were looking in the wrong places to begin with.

From now until April 1st, we know exactly where to look for by-the-book tacos in an unexpected setting: Tacos Impala.  This pop-up taco stand has taken up residency in the Philadelphia Water Ice Company’s digs at 1204 H Street, NE, and they’ll be turning out the tortillas for another two months.  If you miss out, you have only yourself to blame.

Everything about this classic street food is handmade fresh on a daily basis, from the corn tortillas to the chopped radish, onion and cilantro that make up the only available toppings.  Even the two sauce options – a green, tomatillo-based salsa verde and the milder red ‘Sauce Impala’ using guajillos – are made from scratch.  They make ingredient runs to the Florida Market six days a week.  And they show a deft hand when it comes to spicing the meats and beans that fill those homemade tortillas.

The story on what brings these tasty tacos to H Street after the jump. (more…)

After last night’s media sneak-peek at the H Street Country Club, you’ve probably got way more information about this new place than you could possibly want.  So rather than piling on with more descriptions, we just wanted to leave you with a few photos of dishes we ordered up at the soft opening this weekend (some of which weren’t on offer to media-types last night).

If you’re planning to be there for the opening tonight, you may want to head out of work early to be there when they unlock the doors at 5.

And when you’re staring down the Mixing Bowl on the sixth hole, Par Bar in hand, do yourself a favor and aim for the loop-the-loop in the middle.

Pork Tacos al Carbon – Smoky and succulent pulled pork, cilantro and onions in corn tortillas.  Served with tomatillo and roasted tomato salsas.Pork Tacos al Carbon - Smoky and succulent served with tomatillo and roasted tomato salsas

Lobster Tostada – Sweet bites of lobster meat with avocado and greens, lightly dressed and sitting atop a crunchy tortilla.
Lobster Tostada

Shrimp Tacos – Warm corn tortillas filled with light, tangy combination of chopped shrimp and veggies.  Served with roasted tomato and tomatillo salsas.
Shrimp Tacos

Chilaquiles with Roasted Duck – Rich duck meat atop a combination of corn tortillas, cheese, tomato salsa and crema.  The only entree we sampled.
Duck Chilaquiles
Image Courtesy Food Network

Image Courtesy Food Network

Sure, the contrived environment and sleep deprivation that food competition contestants go through are hardly the best conditions for showing off your cooking chops.  But with everything Teddy Folkman’s got going on here in Washington, his stint on the new season of The Next Food Network Star must have felt like just another month in the life of the Flay-slaying mussel man.

In addition to his duties at Granville Moore’s, Folkman has partnered with entrepreneur Joe Englert to take on consulting chef roles at both the H Street Country Club (opening tonight) and the Capitol Lounge.  He’s also working with Englert on a number of new restaurant concepts to debut over the next year or two on H Street, NE, and Pennsylvania Avenue, SE.  As if that weren’t enough to exhaust him, he is also a frequent participant in charitable events like last week’s Brew at the Zoo in Baltimore and the upcoming Brainfood grill-off.

So what was it like to go through the Food Network wringer?  After reading some of the notices responding to his bio video and Joe Yonan’s advance look at the first episode over at All We Can Eat, it sounds like Teddy may be rubbing some folks the wrong way…we wonder if the pressure may have had something to do with that (and we hope it’s a temporary condition).  Eager to get his take on the experience, we were lucky enough to score one of the first interviews with Teddy as the debut of the show (Sunday, June 7th at 9 PM) approaches.

We’ve been quite open about our friendship with Teddy and our desire to see him succeed, but it bears repeating.  We’re not even going to pretend to be impartial throughout this season.  Even so, we scheduled this interview through the Food Network’s PR people, just like every other food writer out there:


Image Courtesy Food Network

Capital Spice: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us today, Teddy!
Teddy Folkman: No problem, thanks for reaching out.

CS: So…what does it feel like to be DC’s Most Crushable Chef?
TF: I heard you guys did this while I was away…but I’ve just been telling myself that you meant ‘crushable’ as in “the chef you’d most like to tackle,” so I’m honored to know so many people want to crush me!

CS: That works.  So who’s your most crushable chef?
TF: No doubt – Ann Cashion.  She’s been a mentor and an inspiration throughout my career.

More Q&A with Teddy – including some teasers about what to look for on-screen and in-town when the episodes air – after the jump. (more…)

<<EDIT 1:20 PM:  Nice to see the big TV star hasn’t let fame go to his head.  Teddy Folkman emailed to inform us: “I must admit, the menu is definitely Ann Cashion with input from me, whether taken or not. And you have to mention Chef Pablo [Cardoso – formerly of Cashion’s Eat Place and Jackie’s in Silver Spring] who is running the thing.”  Thanks for the heads up, chef!>>

H Street Club BallAs we mentioned in yesterday’s First Look at Blue Ridge, restaurants seem to be opening all over Washington these days.  But few of them have been as eagerly anticipated – and certainly not for as long – as the H Street Country Club.  Rumors and speculations about Joe Englert’s newest H Street concern have run rampant for more than two years, fueled by regular updates from Tim Carman, the Going Out Gurus, FrozenTropics and pretty much everyone else.

But now that Teddy “The Next Food Network Star” Folkman’s (second) Food Network premiere is less than a month away, the stars finally seem to have aligned.  The H Street Country Club will open to the public on Wednesday, May 27th (two days after Memorial Day)!

Bags and FlagsWe had the opportunity to take an early look at the space with Teddy a few weeks back (okay…it was almost two months ago), and we’ve been waiting for the official announcement to share what we learned.  Believe me – it’s been hard.  Long story short: this is a restaurant/bar unlike anything you’ve seen in DC, and it has the potential to cement H Street’s reputation as the go-to place for unique nightlife opportunities.  In other words, it’s classic Joe Englert.

But Englert’s visions (tortured though some of them seem to be) aren’t the only ones playing out inside the massive Country Club space.  Folkman’s Mexican-inflected menu draws heavily on the input of one of his chief culinary influences – his former boss, Ann Cashion.

Food, Folkman, fun and photos after the jump. (more…)