Tape sim plugins are great though they are not like the real thing. Just look at Clasp. If plugins worked as well as tape, no one would buy clasp, ever.
Clasp is a good way to combine tape and your DAW though it is very expensive. The cheap way is using delay plugins to remove the tape delay and then you can incorporate it into your setup.
The best way is to record through the tape machine immediately onto your daw. Best of both worlds.
Otari MTR-90 mkii 16 track 2"
Teac 80-8 8 track 1/2" with DBX
Teac A3440 4 track 1/4" with DBX
Teac X10r stereo 1/4"
Universal Audio Apollo Quad