The best way to describe Tacombi at Fonda Nolita is cool.
Much of the reason why is because the restaurant has so many unique features, inside and out. The exterior of the restaurant is painted white and blue brick and looks very much like a garage or auto shop. A little paletas cart can also be seen outside the restaurant, and there are interesting decorative features on the wall like a small section that has a picture of a woman with a hat with the words “Vista Hermosa” above and “Salsa Fantastica” below.
And it doesn’t stop once you’re inside. Probably the first thing you’ll notice when you walk in, is the Tacombi red and white Volkswagen bus in the middle of the restaurant. It’s not just for decoration either. There are people cooking inside it and a cash register there as well. Directly to the right when you enter, is a little beverage area and counter with drinks like sangria, agua del dia, and jamaica in big containers. It almost looks like a place you would find on the side of the road where you could just grab a quick drink. There’s another tiled beverage counter further back in the restaurant as well. The light bulbs strung across the restaurant plus the aluminum tables and foldable chairs made me feel like I was eating in an outdoor patio somewhere other than New York City.
The menu is uncomplicated. You can get entradas, like corn esquites (toasted corn with lime and chipotle mayo), guacamole, and frijoles criollos (homemade chorizo and beans with totopos), and then there are the tacos, breakfast tacos, and quesadillas. The taco section has the most choices, ranging from pork belly to pollo con mole to seared Veracruzana fish. Each taco is served on two fresh, gluten-free corn tortillas, and they recommend you order 3.
Favorite items on their menu are starred, and these include the ceviche, the maiz y poblano taco, the crispy fish taco, and the huevos con chorizo taco. I don’t normally order fish tacos when there are other options available, but I had to try one of the favorites and got the crispy fish taco. I also orderd a barbacoa taco and some horchata, which is a creamy, sweet, rice-based drink flavored with cinnamon (totally delicious if you’ve never had it before!).
Although small, the tacos were piled high with filling so two actually ended up being enough for me. They also have some hot sauce on the table for you to use as you wish. It was a little too dark inside when I went to read the labels, but I just knew that I really really liked the “orange one” which I have since learned is Dried Chile de Arbol sauce. They were not lying about the favorite menu items. The crispy fish really was the stand-out winner between my two tacos. The big piece of fish with the crunchy, fried outside, and juicy inside…yum yum yum.
Tacombi started as a converted VW bus that sold food in Playa del Carmen in the Yucatan (yes, the same bus!) and has now brought its homestyle tacos to Nolita. If you ever want to feel totally transported and soak up some beachy vibes, you gotta check this place out.
Barbacoa taco, crispy fish taco, horchata
267 Elizabeth St.
New York, NY 10012