Blink, and you might miss it: south of the border fresh, bold flavors.
Real tacos are a simple treat, filled with charred meat with cilantro, onion, and lime. Sure, you can dress them up with some crema, salsa, sliced radishes, and lettuce, but you don't need much to enjoy the tender tortilla bundles. When you head down Route 1 in Woodbridge, you have plenty of options, including Tacos el Costalilla.
Blink, and you'll miss it. The Woodbridge location is tucked away in a brick strip mall, surrounded by other small businesses. They don't have an online presence, other than on review sites, so you may want to call before heading over, just in case the hours have shifted.
TACOS EL COSTALILLA:
- ADDRESS: 14406 Jefferson Davis Highway in Woodbridge | 7862 Richmond Highway in Alexandria
- PHONE: (703) 910-6061 (Woodbridge) | (703) 704-9088 (Alexandria)
- HOURS: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday
The layout is strip mall casual, with a counter where you order and tables for dining in. The open kitchen lets you watch as your food is expertly prepared. They'll call out your order when it's ready, and dishes come out sporadically, so listen carefully until you have everything. The prices are low, even for Woodbridge, and you can order everything a la carte. That makes this the perfect place for date night and family gatherings alike.
Anything you get can be topped however you want, and you dish out your own extras at a little salad bar off to the side. There are two types of fresh salsa: mild green with tomatillos and a spicier red (a little too hot for me!). You can also help yourself to fresh dried chilis and bottled hot sauces like Valentina. Both fresh and pickled veggies round out the options, so load up on chopped cilantro, onion, and lime.
The food here is distinctly authentic, with simple tacos in soft corn tortillas and different cuts of meat prepared with care. We had hearty carne asada and lengua tacos, a savory chorizo quesadilla, pork tamales, and a crispy fried sope topped with lettuce and carne asada. Yes, it was a bit much, but you just have to try a little of everything, right? Portions are generous, and you'll have plenty to take home for later. Everything was absolutely delicious!
To wash it all down, we had a fresh melon juice and a horchata, a cinnamon-spiked creamy rice drink. Both were just the thing for a warm day and spicy food. If you're not sure what to get, order a few tacos and definitely have a quesadilla with your favorite filling. Ask for a side of crema, dress it all up, and dig in.
You can take your food to go or dine in. If you go the takeout route, be sure to ask for a small container to put your toppings in while they prepare your food. It doesn't really get much better than this.
For more great NoVA Eats, click here.
**All photos by Sarina Petrocelly
Have you been to Tacos el Costalilla? What are some of your favorite menu items? Let us know in the comments what we should try next.