Food & Drinks

‘Iron Chef’ Jose Garces Opens a Ghost Kitchen for Fish Tacos in D.C.

A delivery-only offshoot of Philadelphia-based taco shop Buena Onda arrives in D.C. this week, kicking off expansion plans for the company from Iron Chef celebrity Jose Garces.

Starting Wednesday, September 15, an Arlington, Virginia, kitchen will cook orders that arrive via DoorDash, Caviar, Grubhub, and Uber Eats. Regular operating hours will be Tuesday through Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., for delivery via Door Dash, Caviar, Grub Hub and Uber Eats. According to a news release, the delivery radius will depend on the app.

The six-year-old fast-casual brand specializes in sustainably sourced seafood that fills out tacos and bowls influenced by the Baja California coast in Mexico. Atlantic mahi mahi or Pacific shrimp tacos ($4 each) can be ordered battered and fried or grilled in a tequila lime glaze. They get served on a homemade flour tortilla with chipotle remoulade, avocado, red cabbage slaw, and scallions.

Other taco options include adobe chicken, short rib, or shrimp and chorizo. Customers can pick from the same proteins to build a bowl on a bed of white rice, brown rice or lettuce mix, along with spiced black beans, chipotle mayo, crema, queso fresco, carrot and cabbage slaw, avocado, crispy garbanzo beans, and salsa.

A Pacific shrimp bowl from Buena Onda
Michael Persico

More Buena Onda virtual kitchens are slated to arrive in Florida, New York, and Massachusetts. To scale the brand, Garces partnered with SuperFd — a D.C. catering and “performance nutrition” company that creates meal programs for athletes and professional sports teams across a dozen markets in the U.S. and Canada. Its commitment to using local and organic ingredients appealed to Garces, who works with Seafood Watch to ensure the integrity of Buena Onda’s fish and shrimp. At Buena Onda, a quarter of every guacamole and bottled water sold is donated to Garces Foundation, his longtime nonprofit that helps connect immigrants to vital care and education in Philly.

A move to D.C. builds upon pandemic-era ghost kitchens Garces runs in Philly, including Garces Trading Company, which packages meals from across his restaurant group, Livy’s Plant Based Love, and Rustika’s Peruvian chicken. By bringing a celebrity-backed ghost kitchen to town, Buena Onda follows a strategy employed by David Chang’s Fuku and various brands from Planet Hollywood founder Robert Earl, including Guy Fieri’s Flavortown Kitchen.

Garces won a James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic for his work at Amada in Philadelphia in 2008. He was attached to D.C. hotel steakhouse Rural Society until it closed in 2017 and backed out of previous plans to build a footprint in the District. Following a bankruptcy announcement in 2018, Garces canceled plans to open a location of burger bar Village Whiskey in Blagden Alley. Developer Edens also split ways with Garces while putting together the all-Latin American food hall by Union Market that became La Cosecha.

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