In these factious, divisive and contentious times, is there nothing on which we can agree? Nothing besides Dirty Taco & Tequila, I mean. Yes, it was just two years ago that the uber-popular Mexasian eatery first fell to earth, but it landed like a meteor on Wantagh, which greeted it with near-universal praise. A similar phenomenon occurred a year later in Rockville Centre, after a second DT&T opened, quickly achieving a Bethenny Frankel measure of local fame.
People are already curious to see what the third location of Dirty Taco — which opens today — might do for Woodbury. But perhaps the better question is, what won’t it do? The place hadn’t even opened Tuesday and Nick Jonas had already raved about it on Instagram. If you traffic in tacos, Nick is the Jo Bro you want. Last year, he and clothing designer John Varvatos launched their own brand of tequila, Villa One, and there is no one else on the Island who sells more of it than the folks at Dirty Taco. Hence the rave.
"This one is the final master of them all," declared Tom Cataldo Jr. of the newest location. Housed in a space in the Woodbury Common shopping center, it is alone among Dirty Tacos in its upscale pedigree. Which was not necessarily a good thing.
"We had to dirty it up, to be honest with you," said Tom Sr., who owns all three restaurants with his son and wife AnnMarie. Here as elsewhere, the walls’ murals are fantasias on Asian and Mexican themes, and Woodbury's legacy vaulted ceiling wasn't spared either.
"They’re calling it the Mexican Sistine Chapel," laughed Tom Jr.
Food-wise, the Woodbury outpost will feature a slew of new menu items. Chief among them is the eatery’s first attempt at a birria taco which, true to its name, is served with a cup of beef consommé ($5.75). Other innovations include a pork spare rib taco served with an Asian apple slaw ($5.50) that’s been "flying out the door" during previews, according to Tom Sr., whose favorite new item, he reports, is a "fantastic pork belly taco with watermelon cucumber salsa and a Korean barbecue glaze" ($6). Not to be overlooked is a new tuna, salmon and yellowtail salad ($16), and a sandwich composed of ground beef and pork, ginger, water chestnuts and queso fresco, served on a sesame seed bun. It's called an Asian sloppy joe, and the cost is $8.
The trio were suspiciously silent on where a Dirty Taco might alight next on the Island. It would appear that much is riding on Woodbury’s DT. If the Cataldos can successfully dirty up a shopping center whose anchor tenants include a Dunkin' Donuts, the sky may well be the limit, and world peace may not be far behind.
Dirty Taco is at 8285 Jericho Tpke in Woodbury, 516-864-0068, dirtytacoandtequila.com. Opening hours are Tuesday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Closed Monday.