Searching for tacos in Silver Spring/Takoma Park
You know that feeling when you pass a new Silver Spring area restaurant and whisper to yourself: I gotta try that place? I recently had the urge with Cielo Rojo, a new local taco place.
Ever since it opened in Takoma Park, I’ve been eyeing it. The outside patio, the tempting menu of quesadillas and tacos … you might say it beckoned me. And as an agent for the Donna Kerr Group, it’s my job to know what’s going on in lower Montgomery County, right?
So, on a recent Friday, not long after Cielo Rojo opened at 7056 Carroll Ave., I decided it was time. And I have one word to sum up the experience: delicious.
I’ve always liked the feeling of going into a restaurant for the first time and checking out the vibe. I was pretty sure Cielo Rojo would be an upgrade from the previous tenant – a Subway. The chain sub shop always seemed a little out-of-place among the distinctive shops on Takoma’s main drag.
As expected, Cielo Rojo was quite nice. Welcoming, you might say. Seating is varied. If weather permits, tables and chairs are available on the patio. Inside, a wide wooden bench along one wall works great for groups. And there’s a 4-table bump-out section along the front window to stay close to the sun or watch the world walk by.
I liked Cielo Rojo’s Mexican-inspired decor. It’s genuine, and not overdone. A few woven tapestries hang on the wall. Some big bags of maize are stacked near the register. I liked the tin ceiling and the huge picture of pineapples. I also appreciated the carved wooden creatures behind the “Order Here” sign. Loved the rhino.
I was with a friend on the day I stopped in. It was crowded, but that was expected for a Friday. We didn’t wait long for a table. And we had time for a nice chat with Carolina, one of the owners.
The Cielo Rojo menu offers three different beers (Negra Modelo, Victoria and Pacifico), several wines, and nine specialty cocktails (including the Jalapeno-Basil-Lemon Margarita, and the Maximillian Affair – a mix of Montelobos Mezcal, St. Germain, Punt e Mes, and lemon juice).
But it was lunchtime, so of course I played it cool (although my friend seemed very pleased with his margarita).
For an appetizer we ordered queso fundido – a mix of melted chihuahua and Oaxacan cheeses, plus rajas and chorizo on handmade organic corn tortillas. Very nice.
When it came to choosing the main course, reviewing the ingredients was essential. Perhaps the papas con rajas taco with “organic potatoes & poblano peppers on house ground heirloom tortillas from Oaxaca, Mexico, topped with onions & cilantro”? Or, the drunken mushroom quesadilla with “tequila-infused organic mushrooms & garlic” and topped with “pepitas & duo of house salsas”? All very tempting.
In the end, I decided to double-dip on tacos: first the Chicken Mole, with “organic stewed chicken in savory chiles & a touch of chocolate sauce,” plus carnitas, with hormone-free orange & Negro Modelo braised pork.”
Sound good? Yes, it was. Highly recommended on a Friday afternoon – or any day, for that matter.
If you're hungry for tacos definitely check out this sure-to be hotspot in vibrant Takoma Park.