Think “farm to table” is overrated? Try “farm to tacos” and you might just change your mind.
Chaia Taco of FARMFRESH fame officially bid adieu to its farmer’s market roots and opened up its first brick-and-mortar storefront on Georgetown’s 32nd and Grace streets on Thursday.
Walk into Chaia’s newly refurbished doors and you’re immediately greeted with a warm, rustic-yet-modern, bohemian space. The industrial decor – sporadically exposed brick facade, white walls, minimalist furniture – is offset by wood in the ceilings, tables, floors and stairwells.
The result for co-owners Bettina Stern’s and Suzanne Simon’s business is a cozy and inviting atmosphere that’s slightly bohemian without crossing the line to pretentious.
“We wanted to marry the old into the new,” Stern said.
To match the minimalist theme, the recipes at Chaia’s are simple: Most of the tacos are made with four to five seasonal, non-traditional ingredients piled onto a handmade corn tortilla. The locally grown and fresh vegetables are definitely the star of this modern take on a Mexican staple.
For example, the carrots in the Moroccan carrot taco are grilled just enough to bring out their natural sweetness without losing too much of their satisfying crunch. There’s a light dusting of curry flavor to complement the carrots rather than mask them, and the layer of goat cheese added just a hint of savory to the dish.
Although the Moroccan carrot is one of their two seasonal offerings (along with a brussels sprout taco, served with ricotta, chili oil and lemon), Chaia also offers three year-round fan favorites. The pepperjack and poblano give the creamy kale and potato taco a kick (with pickled onions that add a crunch). The garlicky greens, with cotija cheese and tomatillo salsa, lighten up a staple dish while maintaining vibrant Mexican flavors. Veggie lovers can also try the mushroom taco, served with feta cheese, red sauce and cilantro.
The components, the assembly and even the flavors were simple, but put together they added up to a taco that felt, tasted and was good for you. Taco fiends can get one tortilla-wrapped handcrafted bite for $3.75 or buy a market trio for $11 – and if you’re extra hungry, you can add a side of beets and quinoa, green rice or black beans for $4. On the weekend, you can turn your taco into breakfast with the addition of a fried or scrambled egg.
The traditional taco seeker looking to pile on the beef and guacamole might not find what they’re looking for at Chaia. But the eatery’s unorthodox, yet refreshing, take on a classic might be able to satisfy even the most die-hard Taco Bell and Chipotle fans (or at least help sneak some vegetables into their diets).