The Nolita outpost of mini-chain Tacombi offers what might be the coolest setting to eat Mexican street food in New York: a buzzy garage space where chefs serve piquant tacos out of a retro VW bus. A nod to the original Tacombi taco truck founded on the beaches of Playa del Carmen, the small red-and-white bus is parked right inside the Elizabeth Street restaurant, which sports crisscrossing Edison bulbs, high wood-beamed ceilings, and a large skylight. It's a fun and beachy escape on your lunch hour -- a wise time to head here, as the place gets particularly packed for dinner.
Tacombi’s tacos are certainly the main event, but they register at a minuscule four-inch diameter, so stave off a growling stomach with starters like the heaping portion of creamy, mild guac & house-made totopos (crispy tortilla chips that are lightly salted and sharp enough to cut your mouth if you’re not careful), and an order of corn esquites: roasted sweet corn shaved off the cob into a to-go cup and topped with lime, spicy chipotle mayo, and cotija cheese. The most popular taco -- as one of the professional waiters will tell you before rattling off each ingredient without taking a breath -- is the crispy fish, a soft gluten-free corn tortilla topped with cabbage and two pieces of golden-brown, tequila-battered Alaskan cod. Three tacos per person is recommended; so consider complementing the fish with the peppery pollo adobo and the slow-roasted Berkshire pork. All the spicy food calls for a refreshing agua fresca on the side, like the agua de sandía, a slushy watermelon juice that epitomizes summer with its pink color and subtly sweet flavor. Kick it up a notch with a mezcal mule or margarita and you may never get back to the office.