Dude, Where’s My Taco Bell?

Photo courtesy of
’11/365 – Taco Bell is a fickle mistress.’
courtesy of ‘BLW Photography’

What DC needs is a good Taco Bell. Fellow We Love DC Author Max addressed this pressing issue in May of 2008 and somehow I find that our beloved District is still plagued by a lack of cheap taco-y goodness.

Monday night, I figured this out for myself. It was the cosmic forces that really brought this one together. I kid you not. You see — my friend’s car needed a good jumping and I chose (out of the kindness of my heart) to stand outside in the bitter cold of night for an hour. The hour passed. The man with the jumper cables showed up. He told us, “Now you gotta drive around for AT LEAST 25 minutes to make sure that battery doesn’t fail ya,” so we did.

Instead of driving aimlessly, we plugged in the good old GPS to find somewhere less random to go. But of course fate chose to get involved. We passed Cactus Cantina (on Massachusetts NW and Wisconsin NW) when thoughts of gluttony suddenly possessed me, “I want tacos,” I said.

And — ALAS — the dream to find a Taco Bell was born.

We entered “Taco Bell” into the GPS and picked the “third closest” one near Court House. Why so far? As NW-natives, my partner on this magic carpet ride and I knew that the Taco Bell near the Van Ness-UDC metro station closed a few months back. So on to Court House we pressed.

Now I know what some of you readers are thinking, “That location has been closed for years.” Well that may be so, but my friend and I had no idea that this was true until we pulled up to an empty lot full of gravel with a couple of broken hearts and a Wendy’s staring us in the face. I have no idea how long ago this Taco Bell was more than a vacant lot but I have a feeling it was sometime before the Taco Bell Truck stormed into town.

That failure led to a short period of frustration followed by a jump start in our adventure.

Photo courtesy of
‘Nightview GPS’
courtesy of ‘Amy Guth’

The night pushed forward as 107.3 blasted in the background (Side Note: Since when is Nickleback still putting out records that get actual airplay?) Next stop — Alexandria. The next 3 stops are a blur. It was a mixture of Taco Bells inside of malls that were closed for the night or locations that no longer exist due to Burger King’s being built in their place.

We. Were. Devastated. And I mean DEEEEVAASTATED. That’s when I decided to use my brain.

The universe came together on this one. How do I know that? Because we ended up 10 minutes from Kingstowne shopping center … and it just so happens a friend of mine lives out there. So we dropped him a line to tell him about our adventures and he led us to the Chalupas!

So what started as a 25 minute quickie-adventure turned in to an epic odyssey to find a meal for under $3 (mine only came out to about $2.60 — how sweet is that?!?!?).

Photo courtesy of
‘Tacos is Brain Food’
courtesy of ‘rochelle, et. al.’

Here’s the real kicker. DC has a couple Taco Bell opportunities if you’re willing to bare the grunt of dealing with the patented KFC/Taco Bell joint-venture. 14th and U St. offer up some of the meaty, cheesy, sour cream-filled heart attack in a hard shell, in addition to the finest fried chicken out of “Kentucky”.

That’s the problem with finding a good Taco Bell in (and around) DC — they’re either closed down stores, vacant lots, inside a mall, or attached to a KFC.

All the Taco Bell “store locators” found via Google say the same thing too. There are “two” stores “in DC”, one on 14th St. (with a KFC) and one at UDC (which is no longer in operation as of August 2009).

Dear reader, I have but one request — do you know if there is a GOOD Taco Bell in DC? And I mean a REAL Taco Bell. None of this “I’m attached to a KFC or inside a mall” shenanigans. I mean a “sit-down, shut-up, and eat your penny saving, artery clogging meal” Taco Bell. If so, I’d love to hear about it. Pay it forward. Thanks.

Rachel moved to DC in the fall of 2005 to study Journalism and Music at American University. When she’s not keeping up with the latest Major League Baseball news, she works on making music as an accomplished singer-songwriter and was even a featured performer/speaker at TEDxDupont Circle in 2012. Rachel has also contributed to The Washington Examiner and MASN Sports’ Nationals Buzz as a guest blogger. See why she loves DC. E-Mail: rachel@welovedc.com.

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34 thoughts on “Dude, Where’s My Taco Bell?

  1. There’s one on Old Courthouse Road in Vienna, but that’s a considerable distance past where you cross the river, so it’s probably too far for most.

  2. There’s a Taco Bell/KFC right by Fort Totten, across the street from Food and Friends. For regular, stand-alone Taco Bell, it’s College Park for me.

  3. There is a stand alone, not closed, not sketchy, Taco Bell in the Aspen Hill area of Montgomery County. It’s a few minutes (driving) from the Glenmont Metro, a straight shot up Georgia Ave to Aspen Hill Road, take a left and the welcoming fake adobe architecture of Taco Bell is there to welcome you and offer $0.89 hard shell tacos..mmmm.

  4. instead of eating taco bell’s bullshit excuse for mexican, maybe try something significantly more awesome, like super taco (on 18th st.)’s tacos, pica taco’s (off 16th near harvard) or distrito federal on 14th. all cheap taco-y goodness, without the congealed cheese!

  5. @sarahlucy Thanks for the tip! I may have to check that out sometime real soon! There’s nothing I love more than cheap taco-y goodness.

  6. Sweetheart, There is a Taco Bell on Lee Highway (Rt 29) in Arlington. It is the best Taco Bell in the area and they are open til at least 4am on weekends. It’s 7 minutes from the Key Bridge

  7. There’s one (I think it’s stand alone)in the Shirlington/Fairlington area on Rt. 7 just off 395. It’s a bit of a hike, but really just on and off the highway.

  8. OMFG the situation reads we love dc. (he also speaks the truth, that TB is baller.) (I also enjoy the one on King Street)

  9. There used to be a Taco Bell “inside” the movie theater that was closest to AU’s campus…there was an ice cream place there too. Was it on Wisconsin? I can’t remember streets anymore. All I remember is that it was within walking distance of Anderson Hall.

    Or maybe it wasn’t and I just REALLY wanted a freakin’ CrunchWrap.

  10. I’m an infrequent but grateful customer of the Bell on Lee Highway mentioned earlier. By Taco Bell standards, they’re one of the better ones I’ve visited, and would have saved you a trip down to Alexandria, being only a few minutes from the now-deceased Bell on Wilson Blvd. (Not sure when it closed, but they tore it down nearly two years ago now).

    …crap, now I want chalupas and fiesta potatoes*. Damn you, We Love DC!!!

    *(yes, putting fiesta potatoes in a chalupa is one of the simple pleasures in life. Try it.)

  11. @Matt Brown. First off, DC misses you. Second, sadly … that location has been closed since you left bud. I know, it’s depressing. Try to cope as best you can.

    @TheDenverite I’ll have to give the fiesta potatoes in the chalupa a shot!

  12. Uh, did you try the store locator on the Taco Bell website??? I got all the stores that have been mentioned above. Also, there are some on the east side of the city; NY Ave/Bladensburg Rd to be exact.

    On a funny side note, I just typed in my home zip, and whatever map system Taco Bell uses, they still call FedEx Field, Jack Kent Cook Stadium. I think I need to go to a Taco Bell soon for that alone!

  13. @Brian Well I would’ve tried the store locater only neither my friend nor I had a smart phone on us … our GPS with maps that haven’t been updated in months was our guide lol Oh well …

  14. @Rachel That would make it hard. But now you know, and knowing is half the chalupa…I just like saying chalupa. :OP

  15. I Hate Taco bell, but I also now hate Baja Fresh. My favorite are the roaming Mexi-tTaco wagons. You know the ones, all aluminum with side panels that lift up. Often found parked out front of DMV’s.

    I’ve never been into the Taco Bell on Lee Hwy just west of Glebe Rd, but I’ll admit it looks nice for a Taco Bell, and its ALWAYS open. Also, Arlington was part of DC until sometime in the late 1800′s, so its not even that much of a stretch.

  16. If you head out to Tysons or Vienna, there are tons of them. There is a nice one about a 1/2 mile east of 66 on route 7. They always throw in a mint and moist towelettes.

    I too had this problem when I first moved to the area. We went searching for late night Taco Bell. All we found were a couple of closed malls, and I assume the same closed/transformed Taco Bell in Springfield.

  17. The New York Ave (near Bladensburg) Taco Bell is one of those Pizza Hut / KFC / Taco Bells … but it will do.
    *I’m at the KFC. I’m at the Taco Bell. I’m at the combination KFC and Taco Bell*

  18. I’m still bitter that a Taco Bell replaced my beloved Vienna Donuts (previously Mister Donut, the name changed but the donuts didn’t) in 1994.

    There used to be a Taco Bell at Lee Hwy/Gallows Rd that did a huge volume, but I believe it moved down Lee Hwy. There was actually a clique of girls from my high school that hung out there apparently, it was all over the senior quotes.

    At $0.89, Taco Hell is still overpriced.

  19. I love the ridiculous idea that somehow a Taco Bell/KFC combo is somehow inferior to a regular Taco Bell. It’s not like there’s any actual expertise involved in “cooking,” assembling and serving the menu items . . .

    Also, I get the occasional appeal of “comfort junk food,” but this area has TONS of great Central American taco places (both stationary and in truck form) and a few solid Mexican taco places, and ANY of them will provide better and tastier foods than you’ll ever find at a Taco Bell. Personally I’m happy to spend a little bit more per taco to get actual freshly-made tortillas and real beef instead of the Cheapest of All Ground Meats that TB uses.

  20. is the one on Lee Highway still around?

    Taco Bell‎ – more info »
    4923 Lee Hwy, Arlington, VA‎ – (703) 525-2015‎

  21. Yes, the Taco Bell on Lee Hwy is still open, and fairly close to I-66 West, so it is easy to drive to from a lot of areas.

    The closure of the one in Courthouse was particularly sad because it was closed at the same time as Dr. Dremo’s, my favorite bar. If I had a nickel for every time I left Dremo’s late and hailed a cab just to get me through the drive-thru (lobby closed at 9) for a cheesy gordita crunch…..well….I would have a s#!%-ton of nickels.

  22. When did the Courthouse one close down? I think it was sometime after summer 2006 … after that, I’m drawing a blank.

  23. Yes, I heard about dremos coming back. Very excited. The tb in courthouse closed the end of January 2008.

  24. Taco Bells do not open and often close locations prone to robberies like DC’s crime riddled streets.

  25. Pingback: Coming Soon: Taco Bell in Union Station » We Love DC