Chop Shop Taco opened yesterday in Avanti Holding’s development Madison Collective in the Parker-Gray district. The name, a nod to the auto body “chop shop” that was originally there, also reflects the menu: a “chopping up” of various cuisines that come together to form a menu unlike any other.
Not meant to be traditional Mexican, the food is playful and creative – many cultures come into play in each dish. Take their roasted mushroom/halloumi cheese taco, for example. Inside you will also find dates, pumpkin seeds, salsa, scallion, and pickled red cabbage. Or their fried rice cheese croquettes with huitlacoche, cotija, salsa, and porcini (and one of the best things on the menu, in my opinion!)
What’s even cooler is that there will be something new and different every time you visit. Chef Ed McIntosh (Currently Pendleton Carryout, formally at Great American Restaurants and Matchboxfoodgroup and Shop Made DC) will be continuously switching the menu and playing with new combinations. Cocktail director Jon Schott, The People’s Drug mixologist, is known for adding unique twists to quality, craft cocktails. He takes his art to a new level at Chop Shop. Each margarita has its own custom salt rim, the Paloma swaps grapefruit soda for Schofferhofer Grapefruit Radler, The Lavender French 76 is vodka-based with lavender honey and uses the fresh citrus juice of the day, and my personal favorite, The Garden Grove, is their take on a spicy marg with a cucumber foam on top. So good and so refreshing!
Chop Shop is a “fast-fine” restaurant, meaning you will order at the counter and seat yourself in the dining room (or you can carry out). The build-out of the 1,000SF, 47-seat space is one of the most unique I have seen in Alexandria — a lot of the original hardware from the garage remains.
The garage floor was resurfaced, and you can see where the pins from the old car lift were nailed into the floor. The lift was recycled into the legs of the restaurant’s tables and chairs, and the original caged door is hanging from the ceiling. Banquettes reference the front seat of a classic car, while the leather dining room chairs feel look like the bucket seats in an old sports car. Out front, an old sign reads “used tires for sale.” I love that they were able to blend original elements with trendy décor and pops of color to produce a little oasis that takes you back in time, all while remaining chic.
Chop Shop Taco will be a restaurant DMV foodies travel for, we are so lucky to have it right here in Alexandria!
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