Set up in a former garage, the bright and festive Tacombi @ Fonda Nolita is a welcome (and relatively new) addition to New York's Mexican food scene. In fact, scene is the first word that comes to mind: attention has been paid to this space's cool aesthetic, just as attention has been paid to being fashionable by the chic crowd that lines up for tacos on weekend nights. The scene in question is intended to evoke Playa del Carmen—backgammon and checkers tables, strings of lights, potted plants, beer signs painted on the walls and, most notably, a bright red-and-white taco truck (converted VW "Combi"). The mini-van, which used to sell fare beachside in the Yucatan town, has here been converted into a taco-making kitchen (thus the name Tacombi, taco+combi).
As it turns out, the van is just one of many food stations. The first step is to buy some tickets at the drink counter, which you can then exchange for any taco of your choosing. On a quiet morning, we stopped in to try the daily breakfast fare; tickets cost just $3.68 each and were to be exchanged at the the back kitchen.
Perhaps the most transporting of the tacos was the Cactus-Poblano: diced Nopal cactus with potatoes and eggs. The "prickly pear" cactus provided that elusive, earthy-green flavor that has no exact match, and which is rarely prepared well (or offered) outside of good Mexican restaurants. Topped with a slice of avocado and served on fresh, petite, flour tortillas, this was the best of the three options on this particular morning.
The A la Mexicana was, if less unique—with its ingredient list of onions, tomatoes, jalepenos, cilantro, eggs, and avocado—perfectly delicious.
A third taco—the Chorizo—though full of potential, wasn't as flavorful as it could have been. It didn't have enough of that dark, rich chorizo favor that we were looking for. In fact, a few more bits of actual sausage would have been nice. We spiked ours with hot sauce from the table to add a bit of lacking heat, too.
There's coffee to drink, of course, but if you're okay on caffeine, there's also Hibiscus tea and a tasty, cinnamon-scented horchata.
We enjoyed each dish and left very satisfied (each item seemed to have roughly two eggs as a a base and was made with fresh, flavorful ingredients), but as they're not yet going to be winning an award for best breakfast taco in the city, it's the creative space that really stands out.