A glistening silver orb now sits on the banks of the Potomac River, resting on the plaza in the shadow of the Torpedo Factory. It’s not a UFO, but rather a 1962 Airstream trailer, as sleek and shiny as the day it rolled off the production line. And it’s now the home of Riverside Taco Company, the latest offering from Alexandria Restaurant Partners, a fast-casual stationary taco truck that opened its doors last month.
Riverside is “bringing a little bit of what’s not in Old Town to Old Town,” said ARP partner Scott Shaw, calling the shop “a slice of Austin on the Potomac.”
The idea for the trailer came about in stages. Alexandria Restaurant Partners already held the lease on the outdoor space adjacent to the Torpedo Factory, but had found itself at odds with what to do with it. It was too far away from neighboring Vola’s to be an adequate outdoor space for that restaurant; its slender footprint made it a challenge to build on.
The answer for how to handle the vacant space came in the form of that silver Airstream, a throwback to another time that seems perfectly at home amid the World War-era Torpedo Factory surroundings. Compact but efficient, it is the perfect housing for dishing up a relatively simple menu tacos and bowls.
And though the menu is simple, it has heft, as well. All the major components of a proper taco truck are in attendance — carnitas, chicken, steak and even a vegetarian taco. Riverside Taco has branched out with bowls, as well, taking some of those same tacos and converting them to a rice-based meal instead. Pair your entrée with homemade chips and guacamole, and maybe a beer, frozen margarita or pure-cane-sugar fresca to wash it down, and you’ve got a complete lunch or dinner, complete with a cookie from Together We Bake for dessert.
The patio is perfect for a quick stop-off between errands or — in the case of so many summer tourists — sightseeing visits. And though it is a stylistic departure from much of Old Town, Shaw says that’s part of the shop’s charm.
“Old Town is Old Town and we all love it, and it serves as a great backdrop for bringing some new things that pop more,” he said.
The taqueria’s success so far “tells you that people want some hipness in Old Town,” he added.
Though Riverside Taco Company is thriving in the summer, Shaw aims to keep the fiesta going throughout the cooler months as well as temperatures allow, opening up on nicer days to keep the tacos coming.
Hope Nelson owns and operates the Kitchen Recessionista blog, located at www.kitchenrecessionista.com. Email her any time at email@example.com.