Tacombi founder Dario Wolos got his start selling tacos out of a refurbished Volkswagen on Yucatán beaches over a decade ago. Since then, Wolos has transformed a roving van into a growing taco empire that now boasts four bustling outposts throughout Manhattan and one in Montauk. Inspired by classic neighborhood taquerias, Tacombi explores the distinct culinary regions of Mexico and celebrates authentic taco culture through all aspects of food, drink, and design.
We caught up with Wolos to get his top Mexican spots around New York City. From a Michelin-starred restaurant in Long Island City to a Tijuana-style taqueria in Chelsea Market, here are his go-tos.
Each Tacombi has a different taquero, which is essentially a taco master. Our taqueros mostly come from various parts of Mexico, including California, which to Mexicans is just northern Mexico. At our newest location in the Empire State Building, the taquero, Jason, is from California and makes awesome barbacoa, so I go there for that. Then I get my breakfast tacos at Tacombi in Nolita because the taquero there makes my favorite ones.
Casa Enrique is an honest Mexican place that’s very humble in its approach. It also happens to have a Michelin star. My favorite thing to eat there is the puerco cochinita, a traditional slow-roasted pork dish from the Yucatán. I also always have a Monopolio beer, which my brother actually brews in San Luis, Mexico. As you know, beer and Mexican food go hand in hand.
One of my favorite places to go lately is ATLA on the corner of Lafayette and Great Jones. Their menu represents the best of clean, Mexican home cooking. Nowadays, there’s a cliché in terms of what’s considered to be authentic, but I think the most difficult thing to do is to make food honestly and with respect to the tradition. ATLA truly is how you eat at home in Mexico if you’re using local ingredients and not going to town on traditional recipes.
Jajaja is entirely plant-based, so it’s very vegan and vegetarian friendly. The restaurant has a cool Mexico City vibe and they serve proper Mexican dishes made in a healthy way. What’s cool about Mexico that a lot of people don’t realize is that there’s so much biodiversity, which includes a lot of vegetables, fruits, and plants that are part of the cuisine but don’t get used as often because people are accustomed to heavier Mexican food.
Los Tacos No. 1
Los Tacos No. 1 in Chelsea Market is a perfect example of a Tijuana-style taqueria. It’s hard to find a solid place for nopal tacos because you have to do a lot of volume to get a quality taco. Because they have so many visitors throughout the day, they’re able to do a great nopal one there. Nopal has a lot of beneficial health qualities, so it’s considered to be a superfood in Mexico.
Cosme’s understanding of mezcal is the best in the city. Their beverage director Yana Volfson really gets mezcal and the regionality of it better than most do. The best way to enjoy mezcal is to get four friends and finish a bottle together: you need to have three to four shots to truly understand a mezcal, and you have to sip on it so you can’t finish it quickly. I’m not a proponent of using mezcal in cocktails but I believe in finding one you want to drink straight instead. There are so many to pick from on Cosme’s list, so I suggest you start there.
Black Flamingo is another bar on the Mexican cocktail front. It feels like New York City meets the Condesa or Roma neighborhoods of Mexico City. When you hang out here at night, the way that people are socializing and dancing fits comfortably in a world between New York and Mexico City.