A staple of authentic Mexican cuisine, corn — or maize — traces its roots all the way back to the Aztec and Mayan eras. The cereal grain is an essential ingredient in tacos served in their country of origin, Mexico, where Dia del Taco is celebrated annually on March 31.
North of the border, May 3 was initially put forward in the 1960s by San Antonio’s National Taco Council as the day to celebrate tacos and also to serve as a kickoff to a week-long promotion of Mexico and Mexican cuisine tied to Cinco de Mayo two days later.
Decades and a new century later, all that had become unknown or forgotten.
So, in 2009, California’s Del Taco chain unilaterally proclaimed National Taco Day as October 4, just because it said so.
And just like that, it became so, with more and more restaurants getting in on the act with all manner of taco-related promotions and specials with each passing year.
Given the widespread Taco Bell-warped sense of Mexican cuisine in the U.S., many tacos and taco day promotions are served in a soft wheat tortilla or a hard-shell corn tortilla, as opposed to the traditional, historically Mexican way, with a corn tortilla served warm right from the oven.
The traditional way is the only way to celebrate the special day at Buena Vida Gastrolounge, the recently revamped and reopened restaurant in Clarendon that serves “authentic Mexican cuisine with a twist.”
Overseen by Executive Chef Jaime Pelayo, and a sister restaurant to Ambar, D.C.’s Michelin-recognized Balkan restaurant, Buena Vida even offers all-you-can-eat options at lunch and dinner modeled after the signature “Ambar Experiences” that has been a huge hit for nearly a decade now.
For this year’s special day, essentially a Super Taco Tuesday promotion, Buena Vida will serve tacos for the very first time, debuting the Mexican street food staple as part of its unlimited Buena Vida Experiences at lunch and dinner in the restaurant.
Buena Vida is adding four seasonal tacos, two filled with protein and two vegetarian, all served wrapped in house-made corn tortillas.
Options include Pork Belly, with braised and pan-seared meat topped with ancho glaze, watercress, and sweet pickled onion; Mushroom, or sautéed creminis with charred corn, garlic, and onions; Lamb Barbacoa featuring slow-roasted adobo lamb shoulder topped with nopal salad; and Butternut Squash enhanced with caramelized onions, sautéed Brussels sprouts, pipian sauce, and chili threads.
Tuesday, Oct. 4, available at lunch and dinner on the first and second floors only.
Buena Vida Gastrolounge is at 2900 Wilson Blvd., in Clarendon.
Buena Vida’s Lunch Experience is $25 per person and Dinner Experience is $44.99 per person.
Visit www.buenavidagastrolounge.com or call 703-888-1528.
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