Naco’s Kitchen Will Double as an Outdoor Food Trailer

Michael Scelfo's latest project now slated to open in May.


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Opening a restaurant is always a financial gamble, particularly if a chef or owner can’t secure a longterm lease. That’s why for Michael Scelfo’s (Alden & Harlow) upcoming taqueria, Naco, he’s taking an unorthodox approach to the design and buildout. Faced with an abbreviated 18-month lease, the chef has decided to erect his entire kitchen within a 30-foot trailer that will attach to the front of the space.

“This is not a food truck, it’s a large, oversized trailer, like something you might see at a state fair,” Scelfo says. “Part of the thought process behind it is that we’re in a short lease, and when you go into these projects they’re really expensive and high-risk. There’s a lot of investment to be made and a lot of that generally goes into the kitchen. So, how do you justify spending all that money on a kitchen when you know you’re going to be out of there in two years. No one is going to make that deal. That’s when we started to get creative and say, ‘What if we could take it all with us? What if it was mobile? What if we could walk away with our investment if we needed to?'”

Scelfo says his state-of-the-art trailer is actually larger than his kitchen at Alden & Harlow in Cambridge and is equipped with a variety of toys to help bring his ambitious project to life.

“We’ve got more equipment on this trailer—if you can even call it that—than is probably necessary for a taqueria,” Scelfo says. “We’ve got all the bells and whistles: a spit for our al pastor, multiple flat tops, a charcoal grill, ovens, burners, and fun, quirky weird stuff like a circulator and convection ovens, stuff that’ll help us pull off all the tricks we want to pull off. We’re pretty stacked for a taco joint with only 12 to 15 items on the menu.”

In addition to its everyday capabilities, the trailer will double as a quick-service pick-up window and food trailer during the warmer months. Essentially a free-floating work space, the trailer will be parked next to Naco’s patio, for an inviting outdoor area that will complement the taqueria’s 100-seat indoor dining room.

Scheduled to open sometime in May, the restaurant will feature six tacos, six tortas, sides, and a rotating selection of daily specials.

“It’s a true taqueria in that sense,” Scelfo says. “We’re not trying to pull off large plates. Everything is under $10. But nobody is going to be able to look at what we’re doing and say, ‘This is just like every other taqueria in Boston.’ There’s no carne asada. There’s no pollo verde or carnitas. What I’m going for is a fresh take on the medium.”

297 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge; You can follow Naco’s progress on Twitter at @NacoCentral and on Instagram at @NacoCentral.