Let’s face it, most restaurants and grocery shops on Route One are nothing to look at. But don’t let the bland exteriors fool you. As Paige and Vero are discovering in this new series Eating All Over the Map, there’s more to Route One dining than meets the eye. We will try out a new restaurant or food market each week and share our culinary adventures as well as some of the people we meet along the way.
First stop: Ricos Tacos Moya
When asked where he got the recipes for his restaurant, which opened last July, owner Guillermo Moya told us they came from his ancestors, “My father sold tacos (in Mexico City) and we grew up selling and eating tacos. We had a sidewalk cart selling tacos.”
Moya and his family are from Jalisco, Mexico. He and his six brothers and one sister have worked in the restaurant and hospitality industry all over the DC area, from waiting tables to tending bar to kitchen work, which is his specialty. In our two visits to the restaurant, we met several family members, including Guillermo’s wife who was waitressing, two of his brothers, and his niece’s husband. What sets his restaurant apart, he says, is the food.
“This is authentic Mexican food, not Tex Mex,” said Moya.
Indeed, one look at the menu, and you’ll know you’re not at a Mexican restaurant chain.
Since tacos are the house specialty, we decided to sample four of them (there are eight listed on the menu and they are $2.95 each). Paige had the chorizo (spicy sausage) and the tacos al pastor (marinated pork) and Vero sampled the tongue (yes, you read that right) and the carne asada (chopped grilled steak). They each came on a soft flour tortilla with a simple topping of cilantro and onions and were served with a tray of garnishes, which included spicy red salsa, salsa verde, radishes, and limes. Our favorites were the tacos al pastor and the carne asada.
Several other appetizing dishes sailed by our table during our meal, including a whole fried fish and a torta (or overstuffed Mexican meat sandwich). Guillermo is especially proud of his pozole, which is a pork and hominy stew, and the barbacoa, slow-cooked lamb which has been marinated in a chili sauce.
To finish of the meal, Paige ordered the flan, a deliciously eggy pudding topped with a rich dark caramel sauce.
The drinks are also ones you would find at a roadside taco stand. We both had aguas frescas, or non-alcoholic drinks that are popular all over Mexico. Paige had a horchata, a milky concoction made with rice and cinnamon. Vero tried a tamarindo for the first time. It’s a refreshing sweet and slightly sour drink made from tamarind pods.
The restaurant does serve alcohol but only as a “complement to the food,” says Moya.
Ricos Tacos Moya serves delicious and affordable food in a cheery family atmosphere. “We’re part of the family of Mount Vernon,” says Moya.
We can’t wait to bring our own families to sample more of the Moya family recipes!
Ricos Tacos Moya is located at 8685 Richmond Highway. Inside, the space is bright and cheerful with red curtains, booths, and tables. The dining room is very clean, as is the semi-open kitchen.
Mention this Patch article to Guillermo Moya, and you will receive 10% off your bill.