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Nacho Mama's opens in Hicksville

A dirty dog at Nacho Mama's, a food

A dirty dog at Nacho Mama's, a food truck that has gone brick-and-mortar in Hicksville. Credit: Carlos Juarez

A two-year-old food truck that drew a following for its tacos and burritos filled with wood-fired meats has moved into a permanent home in Hicksville.

Nacho Mama's, which primarily did its rounds in East Meadow, Hempstead and surrounds, has opened as a 32-seat eatery in a strip of shops just off Newbridge Road in Hicksville, in the space where The Pie Shoppe used to be.

Owner and chef Carlos Juarez said most of the food truck menu — tacos, nachos, "sloppy" hot dogs and empanadas — is now being cooked on a much larger wood-fired grill, and served in a homey space he's fitted from reclaimed wood and tables, plus tin ceilings and a salvaged countertop.

The backbone of Nacho Mama's dishes are wood-fired meats and seafood such as chicken, beef picanha (a Portuguese-style steak), and shrimp, served in an array of tacos ($3 to $4.50) or atop nachos ($9 to $15), including a version with griddled queso. Burritos ($6 to $11) also come filled with turmeric rice, black beans, melted queso; bowls ($9 to $12) atop turmeric rice or lettuce, plus black beans and one of the eatery's sauces, including chimichurri and a vegan coconut-based sauce. 

About the only meat that doesn't see flame is Nacho Mama's pernil, or pork shoulder slow cooked in beer; Juarez said his version takes 36 hours. Other dishes in the Nacho Mama's arsenal include a "chori" burger of ground sirloin and chorizo ($11), topped with melted queso and pico de gallo; rubbed and slow-cooked pork ribs; and the butterflied "sloppy" dogs ($11 for two) slathered in garlic aioli, mustards, curtido (pickled cabbage), olives, pickled jalapenos, guacamole, cheese and crema.

If you still have room, street corn ($5) is among the sides, and cinnamon dessert nachos ($12) are showered with dulce crema, dark chocolate syrup, fruit and whipped cream. Nacho Mama's does not serve alcohol, but pours a limonada fresca of fresh lime, organic sugar, ginger and hibiscus petals, as well as a proprietary blend of locally roasted organic coffee whose beans come from central America.

Juarez grew up in Guatemala and moved to the United States as a child; he remembers the tortillas his grandmother would make daily (as well as the kids of the family nabbing them while they were still warm). "For us, the tortilla was the fork, the spoon, the napkin, and then in the end we would bite into it and eat it," Juarez said.

For Nacho Mama's, he finessed a tortilla recipe that uses a chemical-free process; they are being produced in South Carolina and shipped directly, though still in small quantities. "We've been working on the recipe for quite awhile. You can eat these things all by themselves."

Owner Carlos Juarez said one of his longtime customers, who prefers to remain anonymous, is an investor in the new venture. During the past two years, he said, stints in and around Mitchel Field in Garden City markedly affected him, and Nacho Mama's offers a 10 percent military discount.

For now, Nacho Mama's is open Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. It's at 7 West Village Green in Hicksville, 516-596-5182. Instagram: 

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