There’s nothing quite like Tacombi in this city. At least not that I’ve seen.
With a barely noticeable facade located just south of Houston on Elizabeth Street, it’s a wonder anyone finds Tacombi among the bustle of Nolita. Once you enter, you’re transported to a new world of sparkling sangria and loud Bob Dylan music and a VW bus purveying tacos parked in the center of the floor. You are handed a double-sided paper menu and are instructed to sit in one of the folding chairs beside bright yellow tables with four different kinds of “homemade” hot sauces to choose from. You notice that you’re sitting next to two sinks flanked by paper towels with signs demanding that employees wash their hands. You wonder why there are sinks in the middle of a restaurant, but take it as part of Tacombi’s charm. You notice a bright blue-and-yellow burst on the wall near the kitchen that says “Tacombi” and you consider the meaning of the word. You search for the word on Google when you get home and cannot find any sensible definition, so you’re left pondering what exactly the experience of Tacombi meant to you.
You order guacamole with chips (totopos) because this is what you do at Mexican restaurants. You enjoy the guacamole and notice a hint of spice, perhaps chili powder, within the great avocado mush. For drinks, you and your dining partner order sparkling sangria, forgoing the various juices (watermelon!) they have on the menu. The sparking sangria is served to you in giant plastic glasses with straws and you slurp it down quickly, ignoring the fruit floating throughout because there isn’t any silverware on the table to use to fish out the pieces of apple.
For entrees, you order tacos, because this is what you’re meant to order at Tacombi (they have quesadillas, too). You’ve heard that the maiz y poblano (cheese) taco is extraordinary, so you get two of those and enjoy them greatly. You also order a pollo taco because you fear spicy food and want something basic. The pollo taco doesn’t impress you, and you return to the second maiz y poblano taco. You order rice and beans on the side, because they’re delicious, and you delight in the soupy black beans mixed with short grain rice.
In addition to his various tacos (his favorite being the al pastor), your dining partner orders esquites, or toasted corn in a cup with chipotle mayo. It is delicious. This is what you had on your food tour that you went on last weekend, and your dining partner had been thinking of esquites all throughout the week.
Your waiter asks you if you want anything else, and you politely decline because Tacombi has adequately filled your gut with delicious foods. You (or your dining partner) pay the bill and you leave a generous tip because Tacombi has treated you well. You escape Tacombi and abscond into the dark, frigid night, heading uptown toward 14th Street where the energy is up and the Strand bookstore awaits you.
267 Elizabeth Street, between Prince and Houston
Nolita, New York
Take the N/R to Prince, or the 6/F/B/D/M to Bleecker-Lafayette.