Almost from the day it opened last summer, there have been lines out the door at Dirty Taco and Tequila in Wantagh: on weekends, a two-hour wait is standard for one of the 47 seats.
Now the same story is playing out in Rockville Centre, where, last week, Tom Cataldo Sr. and his family opened a second location, this one with more than 110 seats, including 28 at a communal table and 15 at the bar.
“We’re not just another regular taco shop,” Cataldo said. “Our tacos are LA-style, which is to say globally influenced with a strong Asian flavors — like kung pao chicken, Vietnamese shrimp and Thai salmon.”
The menus at the two locations, a collaboration between Cataldo and executive chef Rich Braverman, are similar. Some tacos are classic — like the carne asada with pico de gallo, or Baja-style fish taco with cabbage slaw — but most evince that Asian perspective: Korean short ribs with kimchi slaw and Vietnamese shrimp with cabbage slaw and peanut sauce are best-sellers. Tacos are $4 to $6.
With its bigger kitchen, Rockville Centre offers more vegan tacos, filled with either meatless chorizo and tofu-quinoa, and non-taco items such as kung pao dumplings and avocado toast.
The 15 tequilas are divided into three categories, blanco (young), reposado (aged up to a year) and anejo (aged one to three years). Shots range from $8 to $12, flights from $20 to $27. There are signature tequila cocktails as well as margaritas, sangria and beer.
As in Wantagh, the rustic-industrial decor features the work of local muralist Arlene Mcloughlin, with lots of Day of the Dead-style images of skulls, roses, etc.
For now the restaurant is open from 4 p.m. “to late,” but Cataldo wants to serve late-night eats, not just drinks. “If we see that we are just getting a bar crowd, we will pack it in earlier,” he said.
Dirty Taco takes over the corner location occupied by two short-lived ventures, Bucket List RVC and The Pig & Queen and, before that, by Ayhan’s Shish Kebab.
Dirty Taco and Tequila is at 201 Sunrise Hwy., Rockville Centre, 516-600-9874, dirtytacoandtequila.com.