In Rosslyn, Taco Rock delivers on taste, creativity, affordability
Taco Rock is a recently-opened fast-casual concept from Mike Cordero, it’s chef and president. He is also president of MacNac Hospitality, a restaurant group operating the likes of Bronson Bier Hall and Barley Mac in Arlington, Va. The look and feel of Taco Rock in Rosslyn is crafted by designer Yvette Irene, who features a giant guitar “jutting out of the ceiling” inside the 2,467-square-foot restaurant and bar space.
The music video-centric atmosphere, edgy design and Cordero’s blue corn tortillas & creativity are at the heart of what is already making this eatery popular. Just take a look at some of the specialty and vegetarian tacos, and you’ll know why the taco and tequila hangout is worth a try: Key West Grouper – tequila battered, chipotle mayo, diced tomato & granny smith apple slaw; Land & Sea – skirt steak, tequila battered shrimp, crunchy reddish pickled onions, and horseradish sauce; Ahi Tuna – fresh sashimi tuna, seaweed salad, sesame/ginger slaw, crispy ramen, & cucumber wasabi sauce; General Tso cauliflower – sesame/ginger slaw, spring onions, Thai chili, toasted sesame seed; and Truffle Portabella & Peppers – grilled truffle portabella mushrooms, peppers, cotija cheese, cilantro, & red pickled onions.
Team Cordero—a family business group consisting of partners Mike Cordero, and his sons Nick and Anthony Cordero—manages Taco Rock. In addition, Chef Stefano Marzano, co-founder of Mighty Meals, joined the group, bringing an extensive culinary art to Team Cordero. The Swizzle Chill team recently had an opportunity to experience Taco Rock. (A favorite during the November visit was the Carne Asada Taco, a steal for $3.) Here’s an interview in which we learn more about the menu and concept.
QA: Mike Cordero, chef and president, Taco Rock
Swizzle Chill: Please tell us about the soon-to-be-famous blue corn tortillas and how you came up with the idea to have them as a differentiator of your concept’s menu.
Mike Cordero: Well there’s a taco place on every corner, so I wanted to come up with something totally unique and different from everyone else. I figured why not start with the tortilla base. Blue corn tortillas are unique not only for the color but also for the taste.
SC: How long did it take to get the right composition and texture?
MC: It definitely took months of tweaking the Taco Rock recipe. We wanted this concept to be superb and with trial and error, we incorporated different ingredients and came up with the perfect blue corn tortilla.
SC: The ambiance is great with the rock music and edgy vibe, but tell us about taking Taco Rock to go.
MC: Yes, the Taco Rock ambiance is definitely a hit. I was shooting for a full-service restaurant and then shrunk it down to a fast-casual concept. I think that Taco Rock speaks for itself by just having some out-of-the-box street tacos that people want to eat in or on the go. Business has been great.
SC: What’s the plan for the concept? Do you see more restaurants getting built in the near future?
MC: Time will only tell, but so far Taco Rock has been a big hit. We are definitely looking to open more locations.
About Chef Mike Cordero
Mike Cordero is a Bronx native with a strong passion for working in foodservice. He started working at his local pizza shop at age 13. There, he learned to make New York style pizza. At age 20, Cordero moved to Fairfax, Va. to pursue the president of operations job with Italian Delight (a New York pizza chain). He then launched his own venture, Bravo Cucina Italiana, a fine dining restaurant. with chef and business partners Victor DiVivo and Chef Sergio Castilloni. Cordero then went on to open Malibu Grill, a Brazilian steakhouse, and various restaurants in the Northern Virginia area. He is now the executive chef and president of Barley Mac, Bronson Bier Hall, Bronx Pizza, Don Tito, Don Taco, Primetime Sports Bar, Rockwood Sports Bar, Taco Rock and The G.O.A.T Sports Bar.
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