Tacos El Chilango parks at the corner of 14th Street N. and N. Quinn Street nearly every day. From the truck, people can see drivers whiz by on Route 50. Before customers get a $2.50 taco (or five), they might stand in a line that goes down the block. The menu is limited to only six kinds of meat tacos and a small selection of drinks. But no one is complaining.
Making Yelp’s Top 100 List in 2014 was no easy feat. Engineers from Yelp took into account number of reviews and star ratings to reveal the most popular spots in the country, over the past 10 years that Yelp had been up and running. Tacos El Chilango made number 58.
Jesus and Juan Antonio Santacruz opened the truck together in Arlington in 2007. Juan Antonio now runs El Chilango’s D.C. location (1119 V. Street NW), which opened in 2012. It has a somewhat larger menu including veggie options and indoor and outdoor seating space.
When the two first opened shop, they were inspired by their parents, who moved from Central Mexico to Mexico City in the 1950s and opened their first taco business.
“My parents had the house, and in the front they had the business, so we practically lived there. We are eight siblings and we all have taco shops,” Juan Antonio said.
Five taco stores are in Mexico, and three are in the U.S.– the two El Chilango locations, and Tacos El Papi, another truck, owned by their eldest brother, is parked on Columbia Pike in Arlington.
Juan Antonio and Jesus established their space because Jesus lives nearby, and one winter they got snowed into the spot. People started noticing the truck because there aren’t really other businesses around. And so they stayed.
What makes these tacos special? People could look to the 349 Yelp reviews (only five of which are under three stars) or ask someone who took to the street at lunchtime today.
Maurice Dayton calls himself a “religious patron” of El Chilango. He said he comes to get his lunch at the truck at least twice a week. He’s not the only super fan — 55 Yelp reviews used the word “love” to describe their feelings for the fresh tacos.
“I’m not lying, I’m from Texas and I know a thing about tacos, this is the closest I’ve come to being back home with tacos, and I have to say, it’s even better,” Dayton said.
Jesus says the secret to the tacos is never changing the recipe — and keeping ingredients fresh every day.
“A lot of people ask for sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes and we say ‘no.’ We like to keep them authentic, the way we grew up with them, the way we make them in Mexico. We make everything pretty much every day,” Santacruz said.
Dayton lives in Maryland but works in a nearby State Department office, where he says everyone makes the walk down to the truck. He mentioned a few other spots he said had good tacos, but they didn’t compare.
“I just absolutely love coming here. You have to try the El Mixto. They’re some of the absolute best tacos anywhere. I wish I could franchise this place,” Dayton said, laughing.
Matt Evans is a longtime patron of the truck who just moved in Arlington, just blocks away from El Chilango’s parking spot — a move he’s very excited about.
“I have a lot of coworkers who are super into District Taco, and hands-down this is way better than District Taco. It’s that authentic, it’s like California tacos,” Evans said.
It makes sense that they would be authentic, as “Chilango” is a Mexican slang word meaning the people who live in or come from Mexico City. And Juan Antonio says even though there is the most business on Fridays and Saturdays, the truck is busy year-round.
“Even when it’s so hot or so cold, people want tacos,” he said.
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The Arlington-Aachen High School exchange is returning this summer and currently accepting applicants.
The sister-city partnership started in 1993 by the Arlington Sister Cities Association, which seeks to promote Arlington’s international profile through a variety of exchanges in education, commerce, culture and the arts. The exchange, scheduled June 17th to July 4th, includes a two-week homestay in Aachen plus three days in Berlin. Knowledge of the German language is not required for the trip.
Former participants have this to say:
_”The Aachen exchange was an eye-opening experience where I was fully immersed in the life of a German student. I loved biking through the countryside to Belgium, having gelato and picnics in the town square, and hanging out with my German host student’s friends. My first time out of the country, the Aachen exchange taught me to keep an open mind, because you never know what could be a life changing experience.” – Kelly M._
Learn about the new assessment of Arlington’s urban tree canopy and the many ecological and social benefits trees provide. Staff from the Green Infrastructure Center (GIC) will share study results and compare canopy cover for different areas of Arlington.The webinar will include assessments of ecosystem services such as stormwater mitigation, air quality, carbon uptake, and urban heat islands. For background on Arlington trees see the “Tree Benefits: Growing Arlington’s Urban Forest” presentation at http://www.gicinc.org/PDFs/Presentation_TreeBenefits_Arlington.pdf.
Please register in advance to assure your place at the webinar, https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/29543206508863839.
About the Arlington County Civic Federation: The Arlington County Civic Federation (“ACCF”) is a not-for-profit corporation which provides a forum for civic groups to discuss, debate, inform, advocate and provide oversight on important community issues, on a non-partisan basis. Its members include over ninety civic groups representing a broad cross-section of the community. Communications, resolutions and feedback are regularly provided to the Arlington County Government.
The next meeting is on Tuesday, February 21,2023 at 7 pm. This meeting is open to the public and will be hybrid, in-person and virtually through Zoom. Part of the agenda will be a discussion and vote on a resolution “To Restore Public Confidence in Arlington County’s Governance”. For more information on ACCF and this meeting, go to https://www.civfed.org/.
Valentine gifts for someone special or for yourself are here at George Mason University from noon -4pm on February 14, 2023. Satisfy your sweet tooth with Kingsbury Chocolates, find a handmade bag from Karina Gaull, pick up treats from Village