Cafe El PresidenteIf you’re in search of some of the most authentic mexican cuisine NY has to offer, you only need to remember one word: Tacombi. We recently were invited to a preview of the menu of their newest location, rightfully dubbed Cafe El Presidente, and the current taco induced coma we’re all in has never felt so good.
Tacombi all started in a VW bus down on Playa del Carmen where they sold tacos to locals on the beach. But lucky for all of us, the wagon was still fully functional and is now comfortably parked down on Elizabeth St. Their newest location keeps with the company vision of changing the NY Mexican food scene by going straight to the source and bringing the tradition directly from Mexico.
This taqueria is designed to make you feel like you’re actually in a market, complete with marisqueria, tortilleria and a Veracruz style coffee bar- but don’t worry, the decor isn’t the only thing authentic about this spot. We started out the meal with some in house-made chips and guacamole, and let’s just say no amount of guac is enough for us. After taking down one our favorite appetizers, we moved on to the Yucatan-style Montauk fluke ceviche and chicken mole soup. If you know NYLON Guys editor Josh Madden, you probably know that he generally steers clear of ceviche due to the food poisoning tragedy of ’03--but in this case we talked him into trying it and he was floored. To quote, “This is hands down the best ceviche I’ve ever had!” Coming straight from Montauk, we think they made him change his mind about the dish. The traditional chicken soup was equally as delicious-- there’s something about how they shred their chicken and add their homemade tortilla chips that gives it an authentic flavor. Something we love about this place is the fact that they put their quesadilla in the appetizer section. This totally helps our dilemma of deciding between ordering a quesadilla or tacos for our entrée, because we can have both! We’re also glad we don’t have to choose, because their quesadilla is unreal. Made with a house-made blue corn tortilla, queso chihuahua and sauteed swiss chard, we could have honestly stopped the chow right here and been completely satisfied- when you go here, do not sleep on this. Being that this is a taqueria, their taco selection is broad and has something for everyone... and we tried them all! We started with three traditional tacos: the al pastor, carne asada and pollo con achiote. The carne asada is topped with salsa rojo, cilantro and onion--we love spicy, and the salsa on these give the ol’ taste buds a good kick. The chicken was shredded and braised with sour orange juice, and we topped it with a spoonful of the house red sauce to make this taco staple 100% on point. Out of the three, however, we’ve got to say that al pastor was our favorite. They top the pork with roasted pineapple and the fruit just explodes with sweet flavor to contrast the savory pork. Maybe fish tacos are more your speed. Don’t worry, they’ve also got you covered in this department with the likes of crispy fish, seared fish and shrimp tacos. The seared fish is fresh caught from Long Island, marinated in a red chjili mojo do ajo, seared and topped with fresh pico de gallo. Super simple, but sometimes simple is the best recipe. Our favorite, however, is a toss up between the crispy fish and the shrimp. The crispy fish is beer-battered Alaskan Cod, deep fried and topped with a house-made roasted poblano mayo and slaw. The batter makes the fish so fluffy and flakey that it just melts in your mouth as your taste buds reach total euphoria. The shrimp are marinated in a chili-herb mojo do ajo and seared and topped with a habanero salsa. Each bite has the perfect crunch, while the salsa gives you mouth a refreshing heat wave. We can’t decide which one we like more, so you’ll have to go in and decide for yourself. If you’re a vegetarian don’t sweat--just order the nopales, poblano and queso fresco taco. For those of you who don’t know (honestly, we didn’t until we looked closer at the menu) this is grilled cactus petals served with roasted poblano peppers. This was the first time for us trying cactus but it definitely won’t be our last. No matter what you order you should grab one of these tacos too, just to add some variety to your dinner. Cafe El Presidente opens to the public April 28th and you know we’ll be there the 29th and every week after that to celebrate Taco Tuesday! Be sure to check them out on Facebook HERE and Twitter HERE.
-words by Yung Will photos by Josh Madden