Regino Rojas took his family to Mexico this past summer and almost didn’t come back. “It’s paradise,” says the owner-chef of Revolver Taco Lounge and its private, reservation-only dining space, the Purépecha Room in Dallas. It wasn’t Mexico City, Morelia, or even his hometown in Michoacán that tempted him. It was Isla Holbox, twenty-six miles long and just under a mile wide, north of touristy Cancún, and about six miles off the Yucatán Peninsula. Holbox is a sanctuary—literally and figuratively. “It’s an island away from the reality of Cancún, away enough from the very young tourists that go to clubs and all that stuff. There are no cars. Everybody’s riding a bicycle or driving little golf carts. It’s fantastic, and the beaches are out of this world. Beautiful place,” Rojas said. “It’s a sanctuary for birds and sea life [as part of the Yum Balam Flora and Fauna Protection Area]. The people from there are very aware of global warming, and they try to preserve their land as much as possible. I feel very at home and very inspired by the people and the island itself.”
Lobsters are abundant in Holbox, and so the crustacean makes for an appropriate centerpiece of the El Holboxqueño taco, Rojas’s homage to his island Eden. Sweet and saucy irregularly diced lobster sautéed in garlic butter is shot with refreshing pineapple pico de gallo that’s more citrus fruit than jalapeño. Sea beans—a salt-tolerant plant that commonly grows near tropical beaches—is tossed loosely over the garnish and filling. “I remember this guy selling coconuts. I asked him if he knew what [the sea beans were]. He called it weeds. ‘No. You can eat them.’ ‘No way, you’ll get sick,’ the man said,” Rojas says, recounting his first interaction with a local about sea beans. “It’s everywhere and grows beautifully.” Then comes the flourish of mild salsa verde.
Topping it all is a lone goldenberry with its husk still attached. A member of the nightshade family, this small but plump fruit looks like a yellow tomatillo, with a color evoking Holbox’s sunset. It’s intended to be consumed between bites of the taco or afterward. But the first time I ate El Holboxqueño, I devoured the fruit immediately upon being served the taco. Bright and sweet with a hint of tartness, the goldenberry makes for a wonderful bite. Indeed, as a whole, the El Holboxqueño is among the best tacos Rojas has concocted. For a stellar taqueria, one whose duck-breast taco placed in Texas Monthly’s top-ten tacos on the 2015 “120 Tacos You Must Eat Before You Die” list, that’s impressive and head-scratching. When will Revolver plateau? I hope we never find out.