Dario Wolos working the Combi

Dario Wolos, the mind and energy behind the “taco stand,” Tacombi, exudes positive energy. Yea, that may sound new agey. And yet from the moment you meet him or step foot in his restaurant, it hits you like V leader Anna’s bliss. As such, Tacombi, which offers up Mexican fare, specially brewed beer, and unique sodas, has become a pillar in the Nolita community.  On a rainy afternoon, we sat down with Dario to talk about his journey of creating Tacombi.B: Tell us about your upcoming beer brands.
DW: The beer is definitely an important component of the brand. We want to run the business in a smart and environmentally positive way. Nowadays, Mexican beers don’t need to be made in Mexico to carry the Mexican vibe. With this in mind, we decided that we were going to make beer locally (in Brooklyn) because why ship beer from far away when you can make it here? Based on this idea, we decided that we’d make four locally brewed Mexican-inspired beers. And now in early May, just in time for summer we’ll start offering the first two beers on tap here.

B: What styles of beer?
DW: We’ll begin with a typical German pilsner-style lager, which is the main style of beer made in Mexico. It’s the type of beer that has the right flavor profile to eat with spicy Mexican food. We’ll have a light and a dark beer to start off with–La Huarra and Usumacinta.

B: Where did these names come from?
DW: Usumacinta is the river that divides Guatemala and Mexico, so it’s a pretty important waterway. There are a lot of cool things about the name and the river. Usumacinta is going to be our dark beer which will pair well with anything that has tortillas. The lighter beer will be La Huarra, which means blonde in Spanish. It’ll be a lighter lager, a nice selection to begin with.

B: They’ll be on tap?
DW: We’ll serve the beer communally. You’ll be getting it in the same way as a beer would be served from a typical Mexican Bodega. We’ll sell it in a bottle similar to a 40 [oz].  We’ll serve it in a big-bottle with small glasses to be shared, ice cold.

B: The New York food scene has had a noticeable lack of Mexican options.
DW: Yeah, but it’s been changing quite a lot since my business partner and I have been looking to do this project. Recently there has been an explosion of options that came on the scene, all much better than what’s come before.

B: So, do you see the restaurant picking up steam in the notoriously tough NY food scene?
DW: Yes, without any PR we’ve had a great amount of press. We don’t have the budget to hire a PR team or anything like that, but the major news outlets of New York [New York Magazine, the New York Times] have all written very positive things about us and given us huge exposure. Last week, we were featured in New York Magazine’s “Best of New York”. As a growing business, all of this has been awesome. Having a famous chef as part of our team, Aaron Sanchez, is obviously a key part of that, but what’s also cool is that he brings the same kind of vibe that we were looking for. He’s authentic, true to his roots, a family-oriented guy, all in all really cool. It’s becoming more and more collaborative which is what happens as a business grows.

B: Coming from a summer, beach setting, how was it selling tacos in the New York winter?
DW: It was tough without alcohol. But now, we’re serving which will be great for all seasons.

B: Was it tough to get it all going?
DW: Initially, when we came to New York we wanted a space that fit what we were looking for. If you want to get a beer and wine license, it’s helpful to choose a space that already had one. If it’s a new space, a non-restaurant, it’s much more difficult. Because the space looks like it could have been club-like, the community board didn’t trust that we were going to do what we said we were going to do, which is to create the best taco stand in New York.

B: Operating out of a van must have advantages …
DW: What is cool about our business is that we can take the other Tacombis that we have and cater events. It’s like a mobile service. Since we’ve been in New York, we’ve put the Tacombi in nightclubs, in some of the open spaces in the Meatpacking district, and catered big private events. We put one inside the Nomad Hotel, as well as in the MoMA sculpture garden which was so cool.

B: And you open up the restaurant for events?
DW: Oh yeah, we’re actually looking at spaces right now for pure private events based on some of the same concepts. We don’t want to turn the restaurant into a pure private event space, but between the good business and getting the beer and liquor license, it just makes good business sense to expand in this way.

B: To what do you attribute to the success of Tacombi?
DW: I think it’s how we set up the space, with the different stations and whatnot. It lends itself to a community setting. The way we set things up you get a deeper connection with the people that are serving you your taco. When you’re ordering, you get a black chip. You have to go up and order from the taco person, versus most places where the server sends a receipt to the chef and then all they do is follow instructions. Here, there is an interaction between you and your taco guy, which of course we did on purpose. There is a nice interaction between staff and clients, lending itself to the energy here.

B: And your favorite Taco?
DW: Man, that’s tough…I eat them all. I think my favorite taco is our Picadillo. The recipe is from Monterrey, and is similar to the recipe that my mother used to make all the time. It’s basically ground sirloin with carrots and potatoes. It’s a very warm, filling, homemade recipe.

To see part I of this interview, click here.