Asian-style nachos at the new Patchogue location of Dirty Taco...

Asian-style nachos at the new Patchogue location of Dirty Taco & Tequila. Credit: Newsday/Scott Vogel

At last a Dirty Taco & Tequila has opened in Suffolk County. 

“It’s almost like they talked us into coming to Suffolk, because it was nonstop,” said co-owner Tom Cataldo Sr., 57, of the online elbowing. “‘When are you coming to Suffolk?’ ‘When are you coming to Suffolk?’”

In just four short years — two of them pandemic years — Dirty Taco has become something of an Island juggernaut, going from a single spot in Wantagh to locations in Rockville Centre, Woodbury and now Patchogue, where the Massapequa-based Cataldo clan, which also includes wife AnnMarie and son Tom Jr., have taken over Indigo's  former home.

“It’s really unheard of, right?” laughed AnnMarie, also 57. “I waited till I’m my age now to work so hard, but I love it.”

 The restaurant's sneak preview event was a raucous-in-a-good-way evening wherein photographers dodged servers delivering plate after heaving plate of Korean short rib shreds over tortilla chips drizzled with peanut sauce (Asian-style nachos they’re called, $14), or platters of tots, queso and guac (totchos, $11).

Make way for the servers with duck bao bun tacos (a new menu item at $7), and watch-your-back barmen delivering Mason jar margaritas of every flavor and hue on the color wheel ($10-$12). Their destination: Tables where little cards encouraged diners to become Dirty VIPs, a club that involves NFTs, Ethereum and free margaritas.

Some are no doubt perplexed by the success of Dirty Taco , with its Day-Glo of the Dead décor, revisionist tacos, liturgical font menu, sangaritas and totchos. Whatever your opinion of the Cataldos’ formula, however, it is an indisputably winning and replicable one. Small wonder that their openings are becoming bona fide events in themselves, complete with buzzy excitement, searchlights roaming the night sky, and inevitably, talk of sequels.

“We have something scouted out right now, we do,” said AnnMarie of Dirty Taco V, which odds suggest will be another Suffolk spot.

“I’m going to see a place tomorrow morning,” added Tom. “But I can’t tell you where.”

Dirty Taco & Tequila is at 32 W. Main St. in Patchogue, 631-977-8226, dirtytacoandtequila.com. Opening hours are Tuesday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., and Friday, Saturday and Sunday from noon to midnight.

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