King David Tacos — known for bringing actually good Austin-style breakfast tacos to NYC — will debut its first permanent location on May 11. Until now, KDT’s tacos have been sold via carts at Grand Army Plaza outside Prospect Park, at Coenties Slip Park in the Financial District (temporarily closed), and in Madison Square Park, as well as at a growing list of coffee shops and cafés. During the pandemic, they also launched Taco Drops to deliver ready-to-be-heated tacos and queso across Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens.
Now, KDT has leased a massive 11,000-square-foot warehouse space (previously used for packaging Chinese herbs) in Prospect Heights, just off bustling Vanderbilt Avenue at 611 Bergen Street. They’ve installed a 4,000-square-foot kitchen, which the team has been working out of since mid March, and a small retail space up front. Most of the seating will be outside on a spacious 1,200-square-foot all-weather patio with an awning and heaters.
Before KDT’s arrival, the Austin-style breakfast taco — generally consisting of a flour taco stuffed with breakfast-y items such as scrambled eggs, potatoes, cheddar and/or Monterey Jack cheese, refried beans, and bacon or chorizo if you‘re not vegetarian — were difficult to find. Fans of King David could order a variety of options, with or without beans, bacon, or chorizo and one with migas, an egg scramble with salsa, peppers, cheese, and crumbled tortilla chips. While the tacos will still be available for grab and go — steaming in their trademark gold and silver wraps — the brick-and-mortar debut will feature an expanded menu: made-to-order nachos and chips and queso, housemade horchata, a horchata-coffee drink, and Mexican hot chocolate. They also plan to branch out into more “lunch-ish” tacos, including one with steak, potato, egg, and cheese and one with shredded chicken and a verde migas, which will be available after 11 a.m. A liquor license is in the works.
“Just to be able to sit on a patio with a coffee and queso and breakfast tacos, that is my dream,” says Liz Solomon Dwyer, the founder and owner of King David Tacos.
Solomon Dwyer founded KDT in 2015, after moving to NYC from Texas a few years earlier. Born and raised in Austin, her mother would make migas on the weekends and in high school, her friends rotated who would pick up the “Shack Pack” of breakfast tacos from Taco Shack for a morning snack. Like many Southwestern transplants, she was dismayed by the lack of breakfast tacos in the city.
“Breakfast tacos were part of the norm,” Solomon Dwyer says. “And even though you know Tex-Mex is not anywhere else, until you really experience the absence of it, it doesn’t really sink in.”
While she was working in advertising, her father had half-jokingly suggested she start selling breakfast tacos out of a cart in Times Square. She laughed off the suggestion then, but the idea always seemed to stick with her. Her father, who was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia when she was in college, is the David in King David, a nickname his Texan friends bestowed on him.
“Ten years into my advertising career in New York, I wasn’t happy in my job. My dad was dying. And I was like, it’s now or never,” says Solomon Dwyer. “I had the opportunity to try to make something happen and if I was to be diagnosed with dementia at 50, like my dad was, I would want to know that I had tried to do something more than what was handed to me.”
Solomon Dwyer sold her first breakfast taco in June 2016 and her dad died in November 2016. She initially launched KDT as a catering business and developed her taco and red and green salsa recipes with her mother in Austin. She soon enlisted her sister, husband, and in-laws to fill salsa cups and cut potatoes in a rented space in Industry City. After testing out various New York tortillas that couldn’t hold up to steaming, she insisted on getting authentic Austin tortillas and convinced Fiesta Tortillas, which supplies many Austin schools and restaurants, to deliver to New York. Solomon Dwyer focused on catering until she figured out the best way for New Yorkers to enjoy breakfast tacos: on the go.
“I believe in the efficiency and the quickness of breakfast tacos, if it’s going to be a concept that takes off in markets other than Texas,” says Solomon Dwyer. “The lifestyle in New York is to not sit and have a leisurely breakfast or drive for 45 minutes to your office and therefore you can eat your breakfast taco in your car.”
To stay focused on the convenience factor, she decided to launch a mobile cart and applied for a permit in the Financial District and Prospect Park — and won both at the end of 2017. By 2018, KDT tacos were being sold in various cafes and food halls, and another cart in Madison Square Park was added. They were quickly outgrowing their commissary space, and Solomon began to look for a larger kitchen. When she discovered the warehouse on Bergen Street, not too far from where she lives with her husband and daughter, she knew it was the next move for KDT. It made sense to add a retail area because they were already paying for space in a prime location.
Customers can order inside, or at the window that faces the sprawling patio. The floors are terra cotta and recall the shape of an armadillo, KDT’s mascot, and the bar is made of soapstone and wood, with slim wood rail counters along two walls. The overall feel is rustic with a splash of snazz, thanks to the metallic walls and ceiling.
“I envision it being such a draw for the neighborhood for people to come by with their kids or their friends and sit for a quick bite and a beer,” says Solomon Dwyer. “The whole concept of grab-and-go breakfast tacos is to be convenient and focused. This is what we do, and we do it really well.”
Pandemic delays not withstanding, they spent months fixing up the space. Now the kitchen can turn out more than 1,500 tacos a day with the capacity for much more. The intimate retail space has pewter walls and a gold ceiling that helps convey a feeling, as Solomon Dwyer puts, that “you are literally wrapped in a taco.”
King David Tacos at 611 Bergen Street will be open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily