Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Take me out for a taco, take me out to the roof of… Taco District

Iron Vine Owners Bring Guatemalan Flavor to Division Street  
Hever and Dina Palacios join a number of other Peekskill restaurateurs with two dining establishments in the downtown. (Photo by Steve Pavlopoulos)

I’m 9 years removed from Brooklyn and, as my son will tell you, I have never been cool, but stepping into Taco District at 20 North Division Street made me feel like I was transported to the hippest new spot in Bushwick. I may be an unreliable source, but the care that Dina and Hever Palacios have put into their vision is undeniable and the result is a cozy, airy, family-run dining establishment to celebrate. 

When Hever and Dina Palacios took over Iron Vine Tapas Bar on Main Street three years ago, they carried on the tradition of owner Gabriel Arango to source everything in the restaurant from Peekskill. It was a four year restoration project and a love letter to our historic city. With the opening of their new venture, Taco District, on February 12, they expanded their epicurious footprint while giving the community a novel dining experience.

Taco District is at 20 N. Division Street on Peekskill’s Restaurant Row. (Photo by Steve Pavlopoulos)

The idea for Taco District was born in 2016. Hever developed the concept when he was working at Ramiro’s 954 in Mahopac. In order to drum up business at the upscale Latin bistro, he suggested a “Taco Tuesday” special. While the chef was reluctant to try it, he eventually conceded and it was a hit with customers. In order to make their culinary vision a reality, Dina and Hever found the ideal location at 20 North Division street. The building was home to an insurance agency and a nail salon before becoming vacant. 

Once Hever and Dina bought the building, they worked quickly to make their vision a reality. It was truly a labor of love – Hever put in seven days a week for a year working to renovate the building with his crew. The effort paid off: guests immediately notice the clean aesthetic and meticulous detail that went into the transformation. Keeping the business local, they worked with three area artists to create the look and feel inside and on the roof deck. When they were ready to open, they kept on two of the construction crew members who were looking for steady work. Hever spent a few weeks training them in the kitchen and it’s been a win/win for all parties. Dina is pleased to report that, in a short time they’ve, “grown to be a family.”

The outdoor dining area has brightly painted murals. (Photo by Steve Pavlopoulos)

As for the food, the philosophy is in line with the look. Hever and Dina developed a menu that builds on their passion for new food adventures and delivers the colors and flavors of Mexico to local diners. Taco District sources its ingredients and spirits locally to create an authentic culinary experience that is “fancy and clean.” Those descriptions fit the entire aesthetic and vibe of Taco District from the stylish interior featuring work from artists they know in the area to the facade and signage on North Division Street that invites passersby to come on in for tacos, tequila and good times at Peekskill’s friendliest (and first) rooftop restaurant.

“This is our baby,” explained Hever. The result of “our experience of all these years working in restaurants.” It’s been only two months and Dina’s progress report exceeds all expectations. She said, “it’s been amazing. The dream was always to do something in Peekskill and we’ve been accepted by the community.” 

The rooftop dining area is the first of its kind in Peekskill. (Photo by Steve Pavlopoulos)

This wasn’t always the plan for the couple. They moved to Mahopac to raise their family because it was a better fit at the time. They’ve come full circle now that they are empty nesters owning and operating two local eateries. Six months ago, they moved into an apartment in downtown Peekskill to be closer to their businesses and because they really love it here. “There seems to be lots of people coming to Peekskill,” Dina said. So much so that, Hever reported that the previous Friday and Saturday, when the weather truly felt like spring here on the Hudson, Taco District was so busy they had to turn people away. (Luckily for diners who couldn’t get a spot, the staff at Taco District were quick to recommend other watering holes and restaurants nearby. The benefits of being part of a friendly community.)

Dina came to the United States from Guatemala in 1987 and made her way from Los Angeles to Peekskill where, in 1999, she met Hever. Hever has been here since 1993 when, at the age of 16, he started working at The Westchester Diner with his father. Starting as a dishwasher, he ultimately ended up bussing and serving at the Mohegan Diner learning the ins and outs of the restaurant business along the way. Dina grew up in the restaurant industry as well. The daughter of a chef back home, she took her knowledge of the business and, “worked really hard” to support herself and send a little something home to her family when she could.

Dina is grateful for the opportunities she and Hever have found here in Peekskill. She said she’s come a long way from the modest house her father built for the family in Guatemala. In a span of 37 years, she’s still part of a family operation, only she and Hever are working hard at the helm while their son is at Iron Vine and their daughter works at Taco District. Hever is proud to say that, “Customers can’t stop talking about the place.” Dina seconded that sentiment saying she hears people saying, “This is what Peekskill needed.” 

About the Contributor
Steve Pavlopoulos
Steve Pavlopoulos is a freelance writer, producer and journalist based in Cortlandt. After various stints in music and pop culture-related video programming, he enjoys contributing to local news and covering the people, places and events that make Peekskill a "friendly town" and so much more. A native of Clinton, Connecticut (the Bluefish Capital of the World), Steve graduated from UConn where he definitely did not play basketball (despite attending every home game his freshman year). He is a member of the Board of Trustees at the Hendrick Hudson Free Library and once flew halfway around the world covering a pop superstar's 7 show tour of 7 countries in 7 days.