|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.
Tacombi at Fonda Nolita
267 Elizabeth Street