Since its inception in 2018, restaurateur Mike Bramson’s Rebel Taco has been a hit. Originating as a food truck in Arlington, the venture has since expanded – first to Philadelphia’s Bourse food hall, and now to D.C.’s very own U Street.
Inhabiting the spot of former sports bar The Prospect, Rebel Taco’s cantina-style D.C. location was all set to open its doors in March of 2020. However, the restaurant was forced to delay its debut due to Covid-19, opening a few months later on August 5.
“It wasn’t our traditional grand opening we would’ve liked to have done,” Bramson says. “We opened the doors and the feedback was great right off the bat. The problem was people weren’t going out as much, and then the regulations started.”
Bramson and his team were forced to adapt to ever-changing indoor dining regulations. It was during this process that they came up with their new concept: Rebel Margherita.
“This whole time, the space we inherited had this beautiful brick oven and we were trying to find ways to use it with Rebel Taco,” Bramson explains. “I figured pandemic pizza would probably be the biggest hit. We spent about three to four months getting the recipes in play. We didn’t want to open up any pizza spot. We wanted it to be unique – get the dough right, get the sauces right.”
Rebel Margherita officially launched on February 3 as part of a one-month concept, and has been very successful.
“It’s been going great, better than we expected,” Bramson says. “We make our dough fresh every day and we only have a certain amount of dough per day. Twice already, we’ve sold out. That was pretty exciting. We came up with what we’re calling a Rebel Margherita margarita special. It’s two of our pizzas and two of our house margaritas for $45, and that’s been our most popular option so far.”
Bramson notes that other big hits have been those that use the classic Rebel Taco toppings.
“For example, our take on Hawaiian pizza has been one our most popular [options]. Al pastor has been one of our most popular tacos, and now it’s one of our most popular pizzas. I didn’t know how people would react to Rebel Taco-inspired toppings on the pizza, so it’s been a great hit.”
While Rebel Taco’s regular menu will return in March, the success of Rebel Margherita has inspired Bramson and his team to continue expanding their pizza menu.
“We’re definitely going to keep the Rebel Margherita going as we open Rebel Taco,” Bramson says. “It will be interesting to see how they go along with each other.”
The team is also looking forward to their second D.C. location, which will open on K Street later this spring.
“What we really love about this location is the outdoor patio is larger than the interior space,” Bramson says. “We’re extremely excited, especially with everything going on, to have such a large outdoor area.”
Starting February 22, the Rebel Taco menu will officially be back for takeout and delivery in honor of National Margarita Day. They’ll be offering a free to-go margarita with the purchase of a taco trio, which includes any speciality taco or traditional taco on the menu. The Rebel Margherita menu will also still be available.
Rebel Taco: 1204 U St. NW, DC; 202-735-5600; www.rebeltaco.com
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