Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Horchata Chronicles: Tacombi at Fonda Nolita

I'm not sure exactly when my love for horchata began, but I'd surmise that it was right around the time I first heard of it.  "Horchata" wasn't really a word that was thrown around my household as a kid, and I fear that it was well into my 20s before I had a taste.  That's a lot of wasted horchata time, if you ask me.  Time to make up for it. But how, how can I ever begin to make up for all those lost tastes and the unknown enjoyment? With a horchata series of posts, of course. I'm hoping to use this series as a way to motivate me to taste every horchata that crosses my path - sweet or spicy, virgin or spiked.  Especially spiked.  Recommendations welcome and encouraged!

Next time, spiked.

Horchata, in case you’re not familiar (!), is essentially rice milk, typically, sweetened with sugar or honey and spiced with cinnamon.  It’s both earthy and sweet, and though I didn’t grow up with it, I’ve come to find it quite comforting. 

I am far from a horchata expert.  In fact, I’m not sure exactly what makes a good horchata, and I’m sure that those I’ve had are far from the best.  Before I set out on my mission to try a whole bunch of different horchatas, high end and low, from trucks and restaurants, shacks and stalls, to see how they differ, to see what I like, I’m going to start with a horchata I’ve had and enjoyed on a couple of occasions.  

Tacombi is an interesting little spot. Essentially a beach-side taco truck plunked down into a NoLita garage, Tacombi manages to pull off that lazy, surfer vibe despite its Elizabeth Street locale. There are tacos served out of that re-purposed, non-functional VW bus, and breakfast tacos and tortas served from the kitchen in the back.  There are white bridge tables and high counters; paper napkins kept in cups atop tables and hot sauce aplenty. 


The juices at Tacombi are kept in giant jugs atop this drink station. There’s watermelon juice, a tamarind drink and couple of agua frescas at any given time.  There’s also the horchata. 

I’m not sure where on the authenticity scale Tacombi's horchata rests, but it ranks pretty highly on my deliciousness scale.  It’s just sweet enough to make you really want that next sip, but not sweet enough to nauseate.  The cinnamon is prominent, but not at all chalky.   

As I was drinking it, I was amazed that such richness could be coaxed predominantly from rice, but looking at their menu now I see that Tacombi spikes theirs with sweetened condensed milk, which lends the drink a remarkable creaminess and delightful sugary burst. I’m not sure whether Tacombi's horchata is authentic, but I’m sure it's tasty. 

Highly recommended.

Tacombi at Fonda Nolita
267 Elizabeth Street
(917) 727-0179 

1 comment:

Shanelé said...

this is the only place I've had horchata and LOVED it! Open to try others to though!