ChowHound Assignment:Go A Place Never Reviewed On This Board.
I'm branching out.
Other than one or two posters who can throw me a curve once in a blue moon,I've been to every single place regularly discussed on the Austin board.It's not necessarily a bad thing but I'm dying to try something new.So,I've given myself the above task.
Being magnanimous I would like to share this task with others.There's a good 4 or 5 'hounds who I expect great things from operating under this onus.
Use the wonderful new search feature to make sure you're breaking some Chow news of import.Then get out there and hound it down.
I found a place in the hinterlands of South Austin.It has apparently never been mentioned and I'll be doing some recon soon and reporting back.
Reviving an old but good thread.
According to their website, Chu Mikals cafe has been around since 1989 but as best I can tell via google and the board search nary a mention on this board.
A blue-collar diner on E. 7th St. open for breakfast (all day) and lunch Monday-Saturday, serving burgers, sandwiches and a plate special or two (today's was pork chop). Nothing fancy, just simple, honest food. The menu reminds me of a smaller Cafe Java from up north. I had a burger and fries. Burger was griddled and was decently seasoned and tasty. Fries were processed and not worth mentioning.
Will I be back? Perhaps, but it's not that far from El Taco Rico--in fact Rico is why I came here today as I saw it on the drive back from my Sunday morning taco run.
Since I only found one mention of the Texan cafe in my search and that was for the pies, I thought I'd mention it. Here is the previous thread I found http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/535011
The Texan Cafe in Hutto (right off 79) is the closest I've found so far to diner food in or near Austin. It serves the traditional fare of hamburgers, homestyle dishes like chicken fried steak, steak, and fish. The pie place is adjacent with its own counter so the pies can either be bought there or with your meal.
They have daily blue plate specials which are good but it can be disappointing to see something you want and not be able to get it cause its the wrong day.
We have been several times and enjoyed the food. They have killer sweet potato fries which you get instead regular fries.
Their burgers are good size with decent variety. I usually opt for the mushroom swiss as it is a favorite, but my husband said good things about the blue cheese and bacon.
The chicken fried steak had a nice crispy shell without too much grease. I can't comment on the gravy as I am not a gravy fan.
The dumplings in the chicken and dumplings were pretty good size and good if a little bland.
I enjoyed the pies (though the peppermint is really pepperminty) and the whipped topping didn't bother me at all.
There are few things I'd rather do than blow off work and ride around Central Texas eating from the taco carts.
I'm motoring down Montopolis Drive in Southeast Austin when I spot a roadside kiosk[to call it a cart would be charitable]trumpeting AL PASTOR EN EL TROMPO.I pull into the tiny plaza and take a gander.It's a little metal shanty sitting to the side of Bonita's,a small Mexican restaurant that used to be Sylvia's a few years back.It appears to be defunct but I make a mental note to come back and see if they have the spit fired up in the future.
A few blocks down at 1213 Montopolis I spy a new cart;Moys Tacos,pull in and walk up to the window.I'm planning on eating seriously at Tacos El Rico so I restrain myself to one taco:Puerco Carne Guisada[Pork in Red Sauce].
The taco arrives simply garnished with chopped white onion served on a good,homely corn tortilla.The meat is similar to a lot of the fake al pastor served around town which is not a bad thing.It's tender but not terribly flavorful.
The hang is good.I hunker down at the impromptu dining area under the awning of a car repair shop.A spill of pain pills is at my feet as the traffic races by on the busy street.It's a sunny day and the food is just fine.
I say my goodbyes to Elvia,my cook and make my way a few blocks over to Tacos El Rico which is closed for the day.Much gnashing of teeth ensues before I quickly find myself on 183 North,969 East and then finally 973 South[yeah I'm just spinning around hoping for something delicious to pop up].Finally a mile or south of the 969 intersection I spot a little neat looking wood frame building in the parking lot of the rock crushing plant;Portales Mexican Food.
Walking in Portales looks good.Hardwood floors,sunken dining room and a big flat panel teevee showing some Mexican music channel or the other.
The barbaco taco comes and is standard issue.The corn tortillas are not homemade but serviceable,the barbacoa itself is good and fatty but not a standout.My gordita is unusual.It's enormous,the biggest one I've ever seen and hot from the fryer.It's sweet like a Churro and also has a bit of cinnamon in it which does not particularly compliment the Pierna or the beans or the cheese.
The chips and salsa are good.The chips hand cut and fried in house,the green salsa is spicy,the red nondescript.
I bet Portales does good business.They have a large menu replete with pictures of the food.Not the Polaroid quality photos you normally get but good hi res pictures.This is always a bad thing but I doubt the hungry truck drivers caroming about the facility really care.
Walking outside into a brisk summer rain I take note of the very nice al fresco dining area to the north of the building.A few cabana huts are circled about a pretty fountain and with the rock crusher a few hundred feet away the industrial tableau is complete.Very nice.
Two new joints.Neither exceptional but without more sampling it's hard to tell.
Those gorditas at Portales do sound good. If I ever find the place, I’ll have to check them out.
FYI: A trailer next to what is now Taquería La Bonita appears to have been nonfunctional for at least a year. La Bonita is the place that was delivered a citation today (see this thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/543309 ).
About a year ago, I tried Moy’s. I believe Nab checked it out about the same time. We both independently came to the conclusion that their food was nondescript. Here’s a link to that older thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/433261
GUATELINDA review: Rutland and Parkfield Drive off North Lamar (78758)
This place has been open 1 year, is 3 blocks from my house, and I ventured in for the first time (yeah I know, what an idiot !!) and was immediately impressed by the clean, open, and attractive dining room. This half mexican and half guatemalan menu offers the standard fare of grilled meat plates, there's a bakery inside with the standard treats that I didn't try. I had the sausage, eggs, black refry's, and plantain plate. Perfect, the sausage is pork and jalapeno, made in house, and my new favorite in town. outstanding - not the typical greasy make you sick half the day breakfast sausage replete on BK plates. A real winner. The plantains were outstanding - just the right sweetness and well browned, served alongside a mound of mexican sour cream and a nice long rectangle of firm mexican white cheese. The beans were standard, but good. The chilaques (sp?) passing by looked excellent, as did the appetizers. Carne asada and the pork dishes next to me were huge and looked nice and aggressively coated in spices, those dishes kept coming out as well.
A must try!!
Correction: it's MI GUATELINDA. sorry 'bout that.
Here are some menu items that go beyond the typical fare:
Carne adobado (pork)
Pollo en Crema (chicken, tomatoes, cream)
Pollo pepian (pumpkin sauce)
Mojarra Frita (whole fried tilapia)
Philly Cheese Steak (right? hilarious!! probably pretty good but who'd get that?)
Chilaquiles con huevo
The plate I had = dasayuno Chapin c/longaniza. This sausage is reminscent of the former jalapeno sausage at Black's (since ruined with the addition of processes cheese food product). It's just the way I like it - not greasy, nice and grainy textured on the dry side, but not burned or tough or overly dry. The seasonings include a hint of cumin, the heat of the jalapeno, and probably a lot more I'd probably notice only if they weren't there.
I'm pretty sure this is the place I review up higher in this thread (not trying to steal your thunder). I remember confusion about the name of the place and I think I went with the name on the menu. Thanks for the information--it reminds me that I want to get back there and try it again. Your plate sounds good.
re: Carter B.
Hey Carter B, heck, you're right. Thunder stolen. But they indeed changed their name to Mi Guatelinda. I'll try the adobado, sounds excellent. I'm pretty keen to try the pumpkin sauce chicken and shrimp / fish dishes soon. Report to follow.
Another point of interest, their "chips" with salsa are flour based, not corn.
Thanks for this great report, slowcooked—and Carter B. The breakfast dishes at MG sound good, as does some of their regional fare (like the pollo en pipian).
I think I've managed to add a Google link to the restaurant's location.
9428 Parkfield Dr, Austin, TX 78758
I'm in this area daily, have been all over this neighborhood even on foot working for the neighborhood assoc. and have never seen this place. Will give it a try tommorrow AM. Also there is a new stand on the parking lot across from Target on Peyton Gin Rd, Taquiria Avila or something like that. Cooks eggs as your order them, has head, napolitos, and a few other things. I have been there only twice but would appeciate others comments. Very clean place wiith screens and quite a chatty guy. I hope it is still open. It was shuttered when I drove by this AM at 9.
I made it into Dora's with minutes to spare. I had an unstoppable wing jones and was in the neighborhood--around Berkman and Briarcliffe.
I thought the wings were as good as any in town that I've tried. Freshly deep-fried and standard sized. What I really liked, even though the "hot" could have been hotter for me, was the depth of flavor of the hot sauce. I saw her shaking it out of a very large (magnum?) unlabeled bottle. At first I expected plain Frank's, but after driving about 10 minutes to get home, I sneaked a look because of the drool-inspiring smell and saw sauce that was a bit thicker than the consistency of Frank's, slightly brown, and there was what I first thought to be a small pool of grease on the bottom of the container. It seemed like I had let the container get too cool and the sauce had separated, but the oil seemed to be melted butter, which, after stirring everything around when I got home gave a satisfying richness to the heat. I'll try the wings again to verify all this.
Also, the menu listed 99 cent (!) tacos of barbacoa, chicharrones, guisada and I think steak. Definitely worth a repeat visit to check those out. More when I get back.
Taqueria Diego 5611 Hwy 183 South
On a recent trip to Eureste's Grocery in Waelder,Texas I noticed some very promising looking Taco Carts on the side of the highway as I made my way south out of Austin down Hwy 183.
During a leisurely run through Montopolis for some recreation and shopping I try to figure out if I want to tap some bona fide Taco Gold that I've already had or go a place I've never been.The decision is made for me when I find Taco El Rico to be closed[and moved about 50 feet further south].
Not being sure how many more sun filled 85 degree afternoons we'll be having I hit it high gear down the road hoping for greatness on the fringes of Austin.
Taqueria Diego is on the West side of Hwy 183 just south of Burleson Road.It's easy to spot straddling a little patch of asphalt in front of a small complex of mechanic-looking shops.The handmade sign profers all the usual options:Tripas,Suadero,Fajita,Pastor and Chicken.It smells really REALLY good.There's no smoke rolling out a chimney so all the beauty is coming out the window,off the comals of Nelvia,a very fine Mexican cook.
There's a small crew of workmen at the window cutting up, ordering a load of Tacos,Tostadas and Tortas and looking real hungry.I bull my way into the mix and peer into the trailer.It's a nice small outfit,tidy and once again the aroma is driving me mad.I really want to lunge through the window and start eating anything at hand...I'll eat raw onions like apples,scarf down meat both raw and cooked and guzzle salsa straight out of the jug.I'll....wait my turn and order and hope I get out of there with no rough stuff.
I try to run the table and get a taco with each filling but the Suadero and Tripas are both sold out.Barbacoa is an off the menu special so I go for it as well as Pastor,Fajita and Chicken.
As my order is being cooked I admire a very handsome carafe of Salsa Verde sitting on a small table.It's brilliant green with big chunks of fresh Avocado and White Onion.I wish I had a big basket of chips so I could mow down on this concoction but that's the weak link of Taco Cart dining.No chips and salsa.
The food comes quick and hot.All the fillings come on the requested Corn Tortillas...it's a rare cart that can hang with the Goddesses of El Rico and El Rinconsito in the tortilla department but these are every bit as good.Made with lard and heated with fat on the comal til lightly crisped and brown I'll be having some more of these ol girls come tomorrow.
They are that good.
My dining companion and I retire to the rear of the cart and sit at a table overlooking the highway.The clouds are pink and orange...traffic is sparse and the wind warm.This is a picture perfect setting and the food is an intense take on the Mexican standards.
The Beef Fajita is crispy in some spots,plump in others and has a delicious smoky flavor.The little charred bits will haunt me;they are addictive.
The Barbacoa is a touch dry but good.I think the kitchen is running low because this is the smallest taco in the bunch.
The Pastor is so good I feign stretching and take another look inside the kitchen to see if I can spot a tromp.I don't see one.Perhaps it's prepared offsite as it tastes like the real deal.
The Chicken is the weak link.It's merely good.Small pieces of Dark Meat chicken that are probably boiled then heated on the griddle.I won't order this one again.
Along with the Tacos I also order a Pastor Tostada.It too is delicious.A deep fried homemade Corn Tortilla shell is loaded with Refried Beans,Lettuce,Tomatoes,Pastor and topped with a rich Crema that has Cotija Cheese blended throughout.I proceed to get this one all over me as I eat it like a complete madman.I want to run hollering down 183 til I arrive back in Austin,hoarse and exhausted but content that I've done my fair share of evangelizing for this tiny little food cart.
Mid feed we are offered a red salsa through the window.I've already doused everything in sight with the Green[which is good but not great] I'm not in the business of turning down hospitality so I generously pour the red all over everything too.It's good but not amazing.It's the standard version you find at Jalisco style joints with Cilantro,Jalapeno and White Onion being the dominant flavor.
Tacos el Rico being closed turns out to be a godsend.A beautiful ride out through the country capped by eating at a top tier Taco Cart to which I've never been.I can't wait to get back out to Taqueria Diego and sample some more of this woman's delicious home cooking.
Do not get the hamburguesa at Taqueria Diego.
I was daydreaming at work this morning about my triumphant return out 183 to this little cart and certainly did not plan on getting a hamburger but upon arriving all the eaters had them and they looked good.
Served on a real plate with crinkle fries glistening with fat the patty is the godawful kind you see in the freezer section of grocer stores everywhere.
The fries are commercial but good.The bun is soft,not griddled and dressed with Mustard,Mayo,Lettuce,Tomato[homegrown]and Onions.I was starving and did not finish my burger.The gray,too soft meat tasted like it had some sort of filler in the thin,large patty.
I'm not about to let this dissuade me from returning.Nelvia has her game face on on Mexican food and that's what I'll have on my next visit to Taqueria Diego.
Taqueria El Pelon[Southeast corner of Burleson and Hwy 183]
Another 85 degree late Autumn afternoon can only mean one thing.Time to hit the blacktop and roust up some chow on the fringes of Austin.
The ritual of driving to Taqueria Diego[Ive been fantasizing alot lately about Nelvia's delicious home cooking]turns up a dry run;the cart is empty.Nobody home.
I motor back North up 183 a mile or so and get to some Taco Carts I've been meaning to try[but unable...it's like eating in Montopolis and NOT eating Tacos el Rico it's not easy]
Taqueria El Pelon is in a small parking lot with a mini flea market,a produce vendor and a couple trailers filled with livestock:Goats,Cocks,Hens and good fat Hogs].
The menu features Borrega,which is the reason I decided to give it a try along with Carnitas,Al Pastor,Fajita and Barbacoa....the best options are all sold out.I'm left with Fajita and Al Pastor.
The Tacos are $2 apiece which is highway robbery...right there on 183 in front of everybody...these guys are plundering travellers and rocking out on Bronco while they're doing it.
The Tacos arrive on store bought corn tortillas...I get that sick,sinking feeling I always get when I get store bought-ed...cheaped out...bad food warning dead ahead.They are not delicious.
The Al Pastor is fake and not good.It's been held in a steam table and has never seen a tromp...basically flavorles with a gray-ish red color.
The Fajita is better.It's the little crispy bits-style that I like.Once you've had Graciella's on E.7th you're standards are impossibly high but these are tasty.
Two salsas are available;Red and Green,both have an overwhelming sweet flavor.Neither are very good but the Red at least has a little bit of heat.
The hang is actually great.I'm sitting next to a big mud wallow that a tiny Mexican girl who's selling produce has to constantly navigate around....the big ol Hog is grunting and squealing...the smell of the Goats and Hog is mixing with the aroma of Mexican cooking and it is intoxicating.A Woody Guthrie moment if ever there was one....or maybe Bozo Texino to be more accurate.
I just wish the food was better.
This tiny corner of Southeast Austin is a good one.The ladies in the produce stand sell me some delicious Home Grown Tomatoes,Valley Lemons and Fresh Garlic....Bronco is ringing out and a party seems like it could break out in a minute...maybe over by the booth with the fighting cocks and the salesgirls in stiletto heels walking over the turf...
Thanks for another great report, Scrumptiouschef!
As someone who's stranded in the tex-mex desert that is England, but hopes to move back to Austin soon, you guys are all giving me a very long list of places to hit on my return, as well as a good few hints about spots best passed over. Your toils on our behalf are appreciated!
Taco Cart With No Name.East Side of Comal between 6th and 7th Street.
My palate is growing weary of Hog Testicle Tacos.
Yes,they are delicious and I definitely need to work my way through more of Saul's [parking lot of Primo's Icehouse on E.6th] menu but when I find something this good I tend to get overly focused [eg:I have no earthly idea what anything else on Graciellas' menu on 7th st.tastes like 'cause the Carne Asada is a revelation].
Last night after a shakedown performance by Egyptian Lover at Beauty Bar my bike's GPS pulls me straight to Sauls...but wait,my palate hollers "branch out" so I motor back west into the alley and backtrack a couple blocks to the parking lot of La India Bonita,a very fun Mexican nightclub with dj's,a dancefloor and typically a nice crowd of Bud Light fueled revelers.This cart has been here for years and has been one of my standards for a good while.
I beat the rush by maybe a minute and walk up to the window.The two workers greet me warmly and I ask for two tacos,one Al Pastor and one Deshebrada,both on Corn Tortillas.The Al Pastor is fake but tasty,very moist,bright red and hot off the flat top,the Corn Tortilla is commercial and arrives warm off the griddle and not oiled.The Deshebrada is delicious.I'm not sure if Deshebrada is Brisket or Chuck Roast,it is beef and it is very good.In the same league as El Rinconsito for flavor.
A folding table holds a host of small containers with Salsa Verde,Red Salsa,Pickled Cactus,Sliced Sweet Onions,Sliced Limes and Salt and Pepper.I garnish heavily with everything offered,the Salsas are both good but not spectacular[I still dream of El Centenarios' Red Sauce and El Ricos' Green].The onions are sweet and fresh and the Pickled Cactus is a good commercial offering.
Environment is great.Everybody's lit up and feeling the night inside them.Elaborately attired young ladies toddle about the gravel parking lot in skyscraper stilletos,the gents accompanying them are decked in pressed Wranglers,Stetsons and buffed Justin cowboy boots.Everybody's friendly and chatty as we commence to feed on the carts' bounty.
There are a number of new-ish carts popping up after 10pm on East 6th St.I'm intrigued by the one in the parking lot of the "East 6th Cool Store",where the woman's pre-teen sons race about the lot yelling "WE GOT TACOS...WE GOT TACOS" to passers by.It's on my list but I haven't made it by just yet.
I went to the cart in Primo's parking lot Saturday night but they did not have hog testicles. In fact, I inquired about them and they said they knew nothing about it. They did have ear and I believe neck. Those two I greatly enjoyed. There were two women working it and when I asked what the name of the cart was, they said it had no name but one of them joked that should call it Blanca's -- after herself.
OK I don't know if this cart has been reviewed before so I take a chance. Missed El Meson this pm and found my way to N Montopolis that's basically called Carne Asado but does grilled chicken as well. It's in a rather weary looking parking lot on the east side. I'd seen it before after other hounding and future hounding(scouting?) but it looked attractive w/ an old smoker that they grill chicken and beef on. They also have al pastor and shredded beef. I got the asado plate w/pinto and yellow rice. The beans were ok w/bacon onions and pepper. The rice just right and the beef had a distinct charcoal flavor. The salsa is the thick,hot green variety w/ a roasted onion. I've never tried the beef at El Regio but now I need to compare. The tortillas were good(6) and serving plentiful. The meat at first seemed a bit dry but I'd like to try it at about 11am because it had a great grilled flavor.
From an earlier post:
Brokedown and hardscrabble.
If that's how the area surrounding the restaurant is described then you're[sometimes] certain of good eating.
At Asadero Nuevo Leon[730 Montopolis] these words really ring true.
Stroll down the dirt path due north out of the parking lot of the PaknSave,place your order at the counter of this small Taco Cart,the smell of burning mesquite and meat fat hitting hot coals will beguile you.Their intense take on Mexican barbecue is highly addictive.Crispy chicken[$5],smoky Carne Asada[$1.50],hot Green Salsa and Sweet Grilled Onions are the order of the day at this humble mecca of Mexican food.Grab a whole bird[$9],some beer from the quickmart,hike down to the Colorado.Live it up Austin-style.Hours:8am-7pm Wednesday-Sunday.
Taqueria Huentitan 4700 E.Loyola Lane Austin Tx 78723
Having exhausted Austin proper for my 5 times or so weekly Mexican feeds I'm branching out to the far reaches of town in my hunt for deliciousness.The 183 corridor is one of my final frontiers so the appeal is obvious.This is virgin territory and needs some serious inspecting.
I amble around for a couple hours aimlessly motoring about and soaking in the beautiful Austin Fall weather.The [non -food] highlight being riding through a group of young girls in Easter-esque finery standing in the street in front of an old church who all simultaneously release a huge cluster of balloons.
A couple minutes later I spot a plaza set back off the road with few promising "open" signs.
Taqueria Huentitan is a small,excruciatingly clean Mexican restaurant with a classic Jalisco-style menu.Lots of meats:Picadillo,Barbacoa,Fajita,Lengua,Carne Guisada etc. I ask the gentleman,who along with the waitress,double teams my table,what the specialty of the house is and he answers:Fajita.I order a side of Refried Beans and 3 Tacos:One Fajita,One Carne Guisada and one Al Pastor.I ask him if it's true Pastor and he answers honestly "no,but it's very good".I'm served a trio of Salsas:A Red that's a bit watery without any prominent flavors.A loose Verde that is primarily sweet and a vivid Green that is the Pureed Poblano style.None are arresting.They're fine but not delicious.The Chips are fried in house and good.
The tacos come on store bought corn tortillas garnished,at my request with just onions and limes.The Fajita is ok,neither bad nor good but edible.The Pastor is ok as well.It's not real but it's pretty good.The Carne Guisada is the star of the tacos with good,rich gravy and very tender beef chunks.The Pintos are delicious;part creamy,part chunky and simmered with plenty pork fat.
The menu is basically a carbon copy of Arandas and when I mention this, Luis,the owner,smiles and says "same family".This guy is shooting honest and I really appreciate that...it's not something you run into very often in this industry.
Service is great with the owner and the waitress who I doubt is out of middle school,both attending to needs both real and imagined.I'm the lone patron and the effort to ensure a repeat visit is plain.Taqueria Huentitan wants your business.Would I make a special visit to Loyola Lane for their chow?No,but if I was in the neighborhood I would happily wheel in for a Carne Guisada taco and some more of those delicious Refried Beans.
I'vr been on a bit of a carnitas bender lately and found a couple new gems. Started out Sat. at Habenero which was excellent.
Sunday I decided to try E. William Cannon which is close to home. There's a market (carniceria, fruiteria etc.) called La Morelano(I think) which had some excellent carnitas tacos. Not sure if tortillas were store bought but the meat was a little crispy on the outside and moist on the inside with just enough salt. It came with 2 salsas. 1 red, 1 green kind of creamy, They complimented the tacos just right with a healthy amount of heat. This morning I tried Mi Ranchito across the street. Tacos were above average with a roasted tomato salsa. Close to home and close to 2 great parks for the dogs. Anyone else tried these?
OK I'm back at Mi Ranchito for a Sun. dinner to go. Today the special was pork in verde sauce. Yes. It tastes much like a similar item at Los Comales. Pork was fresh and tender. Broke apart just right and simmering in a nice green chile sauce. It tasted more like chiles than tomatillos as it didn't have any bitterness. Accompanied with refried and orange rice. Both tasted very good. 3 slices of avocado on top of shredded ice berg and 6 corn tortillas. I think they were homemade as some were a little rough on the edges. A more gritty kind of corn taste(which I like) and just the right consistency. A hlf lime w/cilantro and onion. When I first pulled it out of the sack indulging in the aromas I wondered should I have gotten some of their roasted salsa. Not at all. There was plenty of sauce which packed quite a bit of heat and anything else may have stepped on it too hard. I hope some of my fellow hounds can check this out soon. I know the green chile pork at Torchy's has been a big debate and I've not tried many other green chiles around town that I was crazy about. They also have tinga chicken which I've only tried at El Meson.
I find myself at La Moreliana today hoping they had some carnitas. No luck. So I decided to try the deshrebada tacos. I was expecting it to be just like the barbocoa which is good and I'd never had deshrebada. It was very tender and cooked in a reddish very flavorful sauce that went perfectly well with the thick,creamy green salsa and lime. I've been down w/ a bad case of the bug(not eating all weekend)and this was the first food that I've been able to taste. My senses have awoken.
Willies Barbeque "Smoked to Perfection"
Whenever I get a pile of smoked meat and forget to say "sauce on the side"it nearly always ruins the barbecue experience.Most places that are good at smoking meats really lack in the saucier department.It's a Yankee affectation after all;this applying some sort of sauce to good meat that has done you no harm.
So when the counter guy at Willies Barbeque rounds on me with a big plate of Brisket and Pork Ribs I am apppalled.There is sauce all over my beloved meat.My meat my meat that I am so excited to be eating.There is sauce on my meat.
I reason to myself that it isn't Nam,it is a nice sunny day and I need to get a grip on myself.I begin plundering the brisket[I had asked for the fatty parts and the charred crispy bits]and it is good.The meat man has honored my request for the good fat but I sensed a bit of reluctance to come off the prized charred beef husk.He has given me a little but I would've given a king's ransom for more.
I find lightbread to make an excellent napkin when I've been sauced.Dabbing up the juice that trickles off your chin as you chow ,then toward the end of the meal eating the now soaked bread.Mmmm,a simple pleasure sure but fulfilling.
The ambience at Willies is fine.A beat up tv is on and an excited gentleman is elucidating on the football Longhorns.As you enter the small,looks closed,room a counter is on your left where you place your order.A corner of the room is tumbledown;a baby buggy turned on its side,a dusty old small steam table,some work lights are thrown on top of the pile for good measure.The panelled walls have the occasional photo tacked up and there's a small cross made of twigs with a ghostbuster slash through it.These are good people I inwardly reckon.Although Willies has only been open for 17 years it could just as easily be 70...it's good and beat up and the smells are spot on.
The Pork Ribs are big,fleshy bones,nicely caramelized on the outside and needing a bit of a tug to get the meat off.The Brisket as described above is good,slow cooked and smoky.I love the fat,always request it and Willies clearly starts with some well fed beef.This steer did not die in vain.His meat has gone to a greater cause;Texas Barbecue.
The menu offers all the standard barbecue options including Elgin Sausage,Mutton,Turkey legs and Chicken by the half.Pricing is very fair ranging from $4.60 for the chicken and topping out at Pork Ribs at $8.95.Standard sides offered:Potato Salad,Beans,Chips,Pickles,Jalapenos and Bread[light].
I'm intrigued by the Boudin which is shipped in from a Boudin joint in Alexandria Louisiana.Desserts include Banana Pudding,Cake and Peach Cobbler.I'll be trying all over the course of the next week or so.
The counter man is an interesting character.He has the appearance of being Mongolian.Thick set and bald with a long braided pony tail cascading off the middle of the back of his dome.He's friendly and fast with the order.As I set back and begin my feed an assortment of characters from the neighborhood stream in.An African man in a dashiki,a harried mom with toddlers in tow,a couple girls from the neighborhood out on the hoof and enjoying a sunny day.
I can't wait to get back to Willies and roll through the rest of the menu.I haven't seen any Chow postings on this humble and delicious joint so I hope a few of the hounds on the board roll in here soon.
4305 E MLK Blvd
512 926 9340
Back to Willies.
I call Dora's Fried Chicken to check on the hours,am informed they're open from 7am to 4 pm,finish my coffee and motor up at around 1 pm to find the door locked with teevees blaring and ceiling fans whirring.
I wait around 15 minutes or so and surmise an emergency has taken place and straddle my bike and go wandering off afield in search of deliciousness.
Half hour later I find myself at Willies[Smoked to Perfection...We cater funerals].I love Willies'.I love the fact there are no cognoscenti at this soulful little temple of smoked meat and I love the barbecue.I'm in serious need of Chicken at this point so I go for the half bird,sans sauce[you have to ask]with no sides...which may be wonderful but 4 pieces of Smoked Chicken is all that's needed to fill me up.
The bird arrives deconstructed from what appears to be a few days on the smoker...the plate is a wreck of bones with hunks of meat straddling the affair here and there.It looks ok but not as handsome as Sam's pictureseque black and gold chicken.I guess Willie doesn't move a whole lot of bird.
I mow down on the bird and despite of the appearance it's pretty good.Dry to be sure but tasty.Ambience is always good;a television is blaring in the corner,the neighborhood is streaming in to fill up on barbecue and good smells of cooking meat fills the room.
The staff are friendly and fast.The price is good at $4.60 for 4 pieces of chicken served with a heaping helping of Dill Pickle Chips and Sliced Sweet Onion.
Willies' has been keeping the neighborhood fed for 17 or so years and is going strong.I was stunned to see the Chronicle give them a mention in the latest "best of Austin" issue.This is not the sort of place that is ever going to get much publicity from local media.It's delicious and nicely tucked away in a rundown plaza that will probably in the not too distant future be bulldozed for another condo project as Austin continues to lose its' heart in the name of progress.
Now that the days are slowly getting longer (and work's easing up slightly), I've been doing more of the long, meandering drives in search of good tastes and smells that make up a large part of chowhounding. On the far east side yesterday, I found a few new spots to check out. Since I had barbecue on my mind, however, I ruthlessly passed them all by. Fortunately, I had remembered these posts about good barbecue way out east on MLK. I found Willie's, and it was exactly as promised: soulful, simple, and good. Since I was getting meat for a small crowd, I ordered some of their brisket, sausage, and chicken. Despite the advance warning, I'll be darned if they didn't sauce all three types of meat before I could stop them. All that sauce is extra messy, too, in a to-go order. But by the time I'd registered what was happening, it was too late to do anything about it. You know, I didn't mind the sauce at all. It was really thin, almost like a French jus or meat stock, and not vinegary. It had also thoroughly soaked into the meat by the time I ate it, so I couldn't discern what else might have been in it. Before they sauced the meat, I noticed that they also added a healthy dose of some red powder out of a tall plastic shaker. It wasn't spicy, so I'm guessing it contained paprika. Some kind of seasoned salt is a strong possibility, although the meat didn't taste really salty. I found both the brisket and chicken to be quite good. When I sampled the half-chicken, only the white meat was dry. Their Elgin sausage was meaty, flavorful, and fairly peppery. It wasn't extraordinary, but it was much better than you'd expect at a place that's not known for their sausage.
I'm also pleased to report that their desserts are homemade and good. The banana pudding was a big hit—so much so that I only got a couple of bites of it. From that small sample, I thought their pudding seemed both creamier and airier than a lot of other banana puddings, with a meringue-like top and fewer vanilla wafers than some places use (like Gene's and Ben's). It was so good that I was sorry that I hadn't set aside an entire serving for myself as a finder's fee. Their peach cobbler was fairly decent, with a cooked-down canned-peach filling and a crisp, very brown but not burnt, pie-crust-like cobbler pastry. It didn't taste like many (if any) spices had been added to the filling, so this wasn't a great cobbler. But it was good enough. It would also probably appeal to those who prefer a crunchy cobbler crust. Willie's cake, at least the day that I tried it, turned out to be slices of lemon cake, the rich pound cake that is thoroughly soaked in lemon syrup. Each slice comes encased in a small plastic bag, so the presentation is really down-home. The cake itself was quite moist but not finely textured, with medium-sized air bubbles. The syrup wasn't extremely tart, but I found it to be a good balance of slightly tart and not too sweet. It seemed like a few of the edges had just a touch of coconut. I'd only ordered the cake as an afterthought, since I rightly concluded that I'd run low on desserts. It turned out to be a sleeper success. The cake and banana pudding were my favorites, but all of these desserts were solid choices and a great way to end the meal.
Someone else had ordered the boudin when I was there, and it did look appealing. On my next visit, I'll have to try it—along with the ribs and more of that banana pudding.
Thanks, as always, for the good tips, scrumptious.
I just ate at Mi Casita on Airport Blvd. just W of 183 on the north side. I saw a sign the other day when looking for El Riconsito(which I found;thank you MPH) and had the curiosity to go back as a sign boasted home made tortillas. Nice new & clean place. They serve 2 big bowls of salsa. 1st is tomato, 2 is chile based and almost green. The menu looked well rounded for the size of the place. Salsa was pretty good but could have been thicker IMO. I ordered the fajitas ala mexicana which were OK but nowhere near Habenero. However their refried beans stood out as they were half mashed and e kind of creamy. Rice was good consistency and the flour tortillas "seemed" pretty damn homemade. They have a rather large kitchen from what I can tell. And I will try their other options just to see what it really is they do well other than what I've already found. I have a feeling their strength could be in their soups and stews.
I love it when a hound comes sneaking into my backyard and steals a fresh bone.This little joint[near my home] had barely popped up on my radar[Sat night on the way to Winchester and Murphy's Steakhouse]and I was planning a quick hit today and review in the afternoon but I got hounded down by Crippstom.Though the glory is now gone I'll be motoring by there this week and setting down a feed.
I can't stop eating hog testicles.
So my visits to restaurants that are not Sauls' have been really limited lately.
But Mi Casita has been on my wish list for a few weeks now so today is the day.
Mi Casita is in the Govalle neighborhood off Airport Road in East Austin.It appears to be a former house converted into a restaurant.I've seen a few joints come and go out of this location over the years but have never darkened their door til today.The neighborhood is mixed industrial[a tow yard sits behind the restaurant and Bel-Aire Trailer Park is a couple doors down].The parking lot is gravel which for some reason always excites me a little[these people are spending their money on good groceries not blacktop or other frivolous big city gestures].I reckon.
The inside is cheerful,which always makes me grouchy.The room is brightly lighted and preternaturally clean.
Uhhh,I'm not so sure I've made a good choice.
The waitress immediately brings me my chips and my salsas.The birthright of Mexican food eaters in our town.Charge for them?Some blighted,unscrupulous joints might but not Mi Casita.Unfortunately the chips are industrial,the orange-y seedy salsa looks good but has little flavor.The plum red other salsa's primary flavor is sweet.Not a great start.
I order a Carne Guisada taco on homemade corn tortilla,an Al Pastor taco on corn as well as a side of Refried Pinto Beans.The Carne Guisada is good enough,not top tier but fine,a couple lightly grilled onions are the only garnish[requested instead of lettuce and tomato which normally adorn the taco].The corn tortilla is good but again,not top tier,it's homemade but not very corny and heated without oil on a griddle.The Refrieds have that delicious half creamy half chunky thing going on with little pearls of fat suspended in the mix.They are good but need more flavor of pig.A squeeze of lime and a bit of salt and they are better.The Al Pastor is bright red and looks good but again has very little flavor,it comes garnished with chopped raw white onion.
Service is fast and smiling.The clientele is wholly la Raza as is the staff.The menu is standard fare with the exception of Smoked Pork Ribs,brochure style photos of which are scattered around the room.I troll the back parking lot on my way out and see no sign of a smoker so I won't be trying these anytime soon.
Mi Casita is ok.My bar for Mexican food in Austin is really high at this point.I know the places that put out greatness and I love them yet I still regularly try new joints to see if that bar can be raised.As for now Mi Casita is not a heavy hitter but who knows what the future holds for this pleasant little restaurant?
I’ve been reading this board for a while and rarely contribute, mostly because the places I go nowadays are pretty well covered here – in fact I discovered a lot of them here in the first place. So I thought I’d start with something simple. I don’t think Pizzeria Paparazzi has been written up here – it’s fairly new, I believe. It’s on San Jacinto between 6th and 7th. Went there for lunch, because of this challenge and because it’s close to where I work.
Now, I believe one’s chow experiences are heavily influenced by context – in particular, how hungry you are. For some reason I was exceptionally hungry today – actually sort of lightheaded as I walked down 6th street (I had plenty of company, though most of my compatriots were probably that way for other reasons).
Pizzeria Paparazzi is the kind of place that sells mostly pizza by the slice, with whole pies sitting in the case ready to be dismembered and reheated slice by slice. Their lunch special is two slices and a drink for five bucks. I had one slice with bits of sausage, mushroom (canned), pepperoni, sliced olives, and red bell pepper, and one with just pepperoni. The guy took my slices somewhere in back to heat up. That was when I noticed a big stack of bare crusts in a plexiglass case behind the counter: about 25 of them, already cooked, ready to have toppings put on them. Not a good sign.
So my slices come back out, barely warm; but I was so hungry I didn’t care, just wanted to eat. Everything tastes better when you’re hungry, right? Well, these slices, when really hungry, were … edible. The crust actually had a decent texture: slightly crispy, slightly chewy, not too thick. But it tasted like cardboard: the predictable result when crust is undercooked no less than 3 times (initial cooking, second cooking with toppings, reheating) and left to sit for who knows how many hours in between. It was colored by what I assume was sauce, because it had no discernible taste. The low-grade mozzarella had been heated enough to barely melt at some point, but had long since congealed and was not re-melted by the brief reheating. Toppings were also strangely tasteless. The ambiance of the place was enhanced by plastic bottles of seasonings hanging from strings by the front door, so I used some red pepper flakes and powdered garlic (and it really was a powder, actually flour-like, not like the powdered garlic I’ve seen before, ground to a granulated-salt like consistency. Weird.). So there were those flavors on the pizza; but that was all.
To sum up: it was cheap but bad. Maybe not the worst pizza I’ve had, but way down in the bottom percentiles. Even on 6th street there are better alternatives, at least at night.
I've been thinking about this assignment for the past week because I like the thought of expanding the chowhound's search engine in addition to tempting members with new places. But I've been racking my brain for places to search. An earlier post about the old Kebab Palace in the same strip center off Rutland and Parkfield got me thinking about what might be there now. As it turns out Kebab Palace is now a dentist's office, but there are two gems in the strip center.
I did a solo lunch today at Mi Tierra off Rutland and Parkfield today. It is a 3-month old Guatemalan style restaurant with an attached panaderia. It's a relatively large place with flat panel tv's showing soccer. There was two menus, one for Mexican food and one that I assume is Guatemalan style--I make no claims to know anything about the style.
I started with a chuchitos which the menu described as specialty Guatemalan tamale. It came out steaming as large as a size 7 sneaker filled with tender pork chunks and surrounded by a massive amount of tamale stuff (masa?). It was topped with somewhat tasty red sauce and crumbled white cheese. The pork was tasty enough but there was too much of the corn dough and I probably left half of it on my plate.
My main dish was carne adobada--spicy and flavorful marinated pork steak with runny black beans (not sure if they qualify as refried), rice and 4 corn tortillas. I don't know if the pork recpipe is Guatemalan but it sure was tasty--it was practically glowing red from the marinade. The beans and tortillas (I don't think they were homemade) were not that exciting.
When I was paying at the counter I looked over the cookie selection and got a large plain cookie that in my few nibbles so far (I'm quite full) is merely all right. I also enjoyed my very cinnamon flavored horchata.
In sum, I'll probably be back here after I do some research on Guatemalan specialties and if you work in the industrial hell that is far north Austin I recommend it to you as well.
Also, El Taco More is in this strip center as I discovered on my morning scouting trip. There has been one brief chowhound mention of the place (it noted to try the sope) but nothing more. I stopped by this morning and got two breakfast tacos ($1/each). One was egg and bacon and the other was egg and chorizo (they were out of egg and potato). Having had Taco el Rico just this past weekend, I have to compare them to that, especially since the price and styles were very similar. The Taco More eggs are a similar chopped-fried-egg effect and the bacon was sliced thin and crispy. However, I didn't enjoy the bacon taco as much as El Rico just because it was slightly less crispy and a bit more fatty. The chorizo taco however was very good, better than my overly salty one at el rico. This one has a nice flavor that reminded me of some mole sauces and was perfectly salted. Oh and the tortillas are hand made in the back because I saw someone pressing them out.
They have plenty of meat tacos, tortas, etc as well including the pork rinds, cow brains and tongue options (sorry I don't know the Spanish words). The place was packed this morning and around noon. Those of you who enjoy seeking out good tacos should check this place out. Starting now I'm taking a TexMex/MexMex hiatus but afterwards I'll be trying this place again--probably for lunch items.
Both Mi Tierra and El Taco More are off Parkfield between Rutland and Runberg. Taco More apparently moved recently because there's another smaller spot in the strip center that has their name above the door but is filled with cartons so don't let that confuse you.
re: Carter B.
Thanks for the report Carter.I've been curious about Taco More for a long time.I was a regular at Kebab Palace which had the only rice dish in Austin that I habitually craved.I begged the recipe out of the Egyptian chef,Lloyd and replicated it at the house.I'll be running up that way soon and verifying the lofty Taco el Rico comparison .
re: Carter B.
After a dry run to T&S Seafood last night[closed at 10 pm] I was in the neighborhood of Taco More and decidedly hungry.
As Carter B reports.Taco More has moved to the rear of the Plaza at Parkfield and Rutland,the old sign however,is still up in their former location at the front.
Walking up at 10:30 at night the joint is nigh onto packed and rocking some good music[Norteno dance].The tv is turned to futbol and the mood is bordering on joyous.
The menu is posted above the cashier and is very diverse:Cabrito,Carnitas,Al Pastor,Barbacoa,Chicken,Beef Fajitas,Tongue....all the usual suspects are available.
In the middle of the room is a salad bar island with a dozen 1/3 pans filled with Escabeche,Green Salsa[two kinds]Red Salsa[two kinds]Orange salsa as well as chilled Radishes both whole and sliced.I ran the table on the salsas[unfortunately with industrial chips]none were first tier[think El Rico or Centenario] but the red salsa with a million seeds and no tomatoes was above average
My overall impression right off the bat is this is food by la Raza and for la Raza.The clientele is 100% Latino as is the staff.
My companion and I order a host of tacos[Al Pastor,Carnitas and Cabrito]as well as Posole,a Cheese Quesadilla and a Ceviche Tostada.
The food is a mixed bag.The Ceviche Tostada would've been good but for the copious amount of dried and old Mexican Oregano.It put off the tasty scallops and fish.The Al Pastor looked promising[brilliant red and tender]but had very little flavor.The Carnitas were good but not 1st tier in the Austin hierarchy [ El Zunzal,Fiesta's Taco Cart and La Hacienda have no fears ].The Cabrito had much goat flavor but was a bit dry.The corn tortillas that all the tacos came on were store bought and not delicious.Heated on a grill without oil they were standard issue.The Cheese quesadilla was our lone flour tortilla option[you get way more cheese this way]the filling was good but the commercial tortilla was just ok.
Onto the gallon or so sized bowl of Posole.The garnishes were lettuce,cilantro and minced white onion,they were fresh and nicely chopped.The broth was deep red,flavorful and not too salty[a problem with lots of Posole chefs who use Knorr or Maggi as their base].The meat was cubed Pork Shoulder w/fat attached,always a good idea.Once again this was not first tier Posole[Oaxacan Tamaleo,Backstage] but a good take on the classic.
If I lived in North Central Austin I would rigorously explore Taco More's menu.It "looks" really good.The restaurant smells great,the kitchen bustles with 8 cooks wending their way about.The patio is inviting[save for the fluorescent lighting]and the joint is clean as a whistle.Staff are very friendly,a bevy of young Latin girls are whipping around re-filling glasses and chattering happily amongst themselves.It's a good scene and a good vibe.
Thanks for the report, scrumptious, and the reminder about the Fiesta taco cart's carnitas. It's been a long time since I strayed from the lovely version at La Hacienda.
I myself almost checked out Taco More recently, but I didn't want to drive out there late in the day on a weekend when I wasn't sure of their hours. That's when I ended up checking out Nab's suggstion (above) of Taquería las Chivas Jalisco. I still want to check out the chorizo at Taco More, based on Carter B.'s description.
Thanks for the report, scrumptiouschef. I swear up and down they were making the tortillas the first day I was there.
I actually stopped by yesterday morning for another round. This time I did the potato/egg and nopales/egg. The potato/egg is bland and boring as all seem to be except--except for el Rico. The nopales/egg is a new combo to me and I liked it quite a bit, soft and a bit vinegar. I had their two of their salsas for the first time and didn't love ither of them, but I'm not a salsa in the morning person. When I go back I'll definitely get the chorizo and the nopales for breakfast.
They are open 7am-11pm as best I recall, MPH and apparently always crowded.
Finally, why is T&S closed at 10pm? Have their (extensive) hours changed?
While it has been mentioned before (sometimes disparrigingly), Torchy's Tacos on S. 1st has never been formally reviewed here (with my search). Scrumptious even piles on in this (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/441442) post!!! By the way, for $10 bucks you can add on an order of chips & queso to go with your two ginormous tacos and beverage!!
Anyway, their menu (http://torchystacos.com/) is very simple and includes a couple of basic tacos (fajita beef/chicken, barbacoa), a fajita plate, a burrito (construct with varied ingredients) and 7 "Damn Good Tacos". I've had all of the "Damn Good Tacos" but for the baja shrimp (never order shrimp from a trailer in the middle of the country!)...Some are better than others. The Green Chile Pork taco is OUT OF THIS WORLD. The pork is tender and flavorful - served hot with fresh chopped cilantro and onion and a lime wedge. These are not your 3-bite tacos that cost $1.50 at various other locations around town. They are sizeable and could probably satiate most 'hounders with a side of queso and chips (we're getting to that).
Other tacos sampled include the Barbacoa, the Ranch Hand (fajita beef, eggs and cheese served with habenero salsa), the Dirty Sanchez (Eggs, chiles, guac and cheese with a poblano ranch sauce), Trailer park (fried chicken w/chiles), the Big Tex (jalapeno sausage, cheese, pico de gallo and poblano ranch) and the Fried Avocado (includes beans, pico and cheese).
The Ranch Hand and the Big Tex were hits with me. The poblano ranch sauce is delicious and works beautifully with the jalapeno sausage. The habanero sauce is not as hot as it sounds, but goes great on the eggs with the Ranch Hand. The Barbacoa was OK - I'm starting to believe that barbacoa just isn't my favorite taco filling. The other tacos were well executed, but just not up my alley (fried chicken tacos just didn't excite me).
The queso served at Torchy's is my all-time favorite in Austin. This is queso which includes a dollop of fresh guac, a squeeze of chipotle sauce, and crumbled queso fresca over the top. The queso is seasoned well with green chile, so there is a nice kick to it. Unlike many quesos which allow the melted yellow cheese flavor to dominate, the added ingredients really take over this queso and make it extra-yummy! I dream of this queso.
I've not tried the fajita plates or fajita tacos, but they are on the list. The green chile pork taco is a must try for every hounder. Don't expect traditional taco-trailer fare here. It is a bit "fancied up", and a bit pricier...but well worth it in my opinion!
FYI They just opened a new location downtown (I didn't write down the address, but I think it's on 6th).
My search netted 18 reviews of Torchy's on this board.That being said,thanks for the report.I've posted a couple times on Torchy's and it is ok.I agree that the pork taco is good but what I was really asking for in the original post was a call to arms so to speak.You're a venerable hound.I have a feeling you can come up with a chef selling lasagna out of the back of a transmission shop for example.I eagerly await your next post.
How funny. I was going to take you up on your challenge this weekend when I saw there was a Peru Restaurant in South Austin, but saw someone just posted on it.
So, lunch today I ventured into the wasteland that is 183/Burnet. In a strip mall on the northwest corner of 183/Burnet, there's a little place I tried called "Vazquez Restaurant #2". I thought, "Okay, it has a second so it's worth a try."
Walked in and it just had a few tables with big, beefy men eating and seemed to be enjoying their lunches, so I ventured to order takeout.
I ordered the beef fajita taco and the taco al pastor, my guages on whether should go further.
How disappointing. The Snappy Snacks truck that comes every morning has more flavorful tacos than this. Al Pastor, while it had nice charring, was micro-chuncks of absolutely no flavor at all. Tried to dress it up with the salsa, which surprisingly was also tasteless. I left it at two bites.
The fajita taco fared a little bit better, again with nice charring and decent sized pieces of meat. It was served with only wilted onions and bell peppers. It was edible, but really Taco Deli is a much better choice for the area.
Would I go back? Nope, not even if a group wanted to go. I'd talk them out of it. Would I recommend someone else going? Yes, all the "blandies" that work in my office and like Mann's BBQ. It's right up their tasteless alley.
I'm not discouraged, however. I will continue to take the challenge, scrumptiouschef, undaunted by flavorless lunches to come.
OK...I'm a relative taco truck newbie, but a truck near my neighborhood has been tempting me now for faew weeks and I stopped today for lunch.
Matamoros Tacos is located at Rundberg and I35 (NW corner) in the parking lot of a Shelll station. I didn't see an indication of their hours on the truck, aside from a closed Sundays posting, and the lone woman in the truck was far too busy to bother with my questions in broken spanish. This is a white pull behind trailer, outfitted with a flat top grill and fridge. The woman working both the grill and window was very attentive, if not a little puzzled by this little gringas presence at her truck.
The menu consists of sopas, gorditas, and tacos. I went for the tacos, priced at 1.50 for corn and 1.75 for flour (tripas are an extra charge....taco for 2.00). I chose the pastor and barbacoa on flour and tripas on corn. The tortillas were store bought...pulled from an unmarked container but didn't appear to be homemade...and charred on the flat top just before filling. The corn was doubled up. I'm not terribly choosey about my tortillas (really i think I'm just a bread-aholic...and will eart any and all forms). With the char, I thought these were quite good.
The tripas were probably my favorite. Salty and not the least bit chewy. They were cooked on the flat top and not "fried" persay. Garnished simply with cilantro and a little onions.
The barbacoa was passable. I'm fairly certain this was not cheek/head meat and rather just fatty shredded beef. The taste was suprisingly bland even with the added cilantro, onion, lettuce and tomato. I think I prefer Don Luis (for my nabe at least) pre slump.
The pastor was good but a little greasy. It was also cooked on the flat top and not on a trompe. Their was no real citrus flavor here nor any added pineapple. It was heavily seasoned with chile powder...although not spicy. The flavor of the meat was quite good, but the grease persuaded me to lighten the load of the taco and eat a little less of the meat.
Oh...salsas. There was a red and green selection. I'm not a huge fan of added salsa on tacos but tried these for the board. The green was just ok. Not all that fiery, it seemed like a simple tomatillo blend. It was also a little watery. The red will definitely make those of you hot heads happy. I tasted this and one dip of my finger set m entire mouth on fire almost to the point of tears. I don't have the highest heat tolerance but this was hotter than most I've tried. It was also....when my tastebuds recovered a bit, slightly smoky.
Overall, a decent meal for $5 (I think it should have been $5.50..?). They also do breakfast and serve breakfast tacos all day with a .50 charge after 10. I rolled up at a little before 1 and one truck of men were waiting for their order, another truck load pulled up as I was leaving. Finally, just a note, I'm sure she would package them differently, but these were not exactly car friendly. She placed all my tacos on a plate and then covered with foil. I brought them home to eat and still made a mess of myself.
Rolling up South Congress today at lunch I found San Juanita's Tacos[Southeast corner of Stassney and Congress] to [finally]be open.I've stopped by this tiny joint numerous times in the past and never found their doors open.I pulled into the gravel parking lot[always a good sign] and let myself in the front door.Painted concrete floors,loud Tejano music and a good lard-y smell hit me as I walked in.
San Juanita's is small,seats around 20 or so people and the menu lets you in on the history of the joint in short order;family owned,good simple folks just happy to be here in America and making a living through food.An honorable creed if ever there was one.
The menu is all over the place:The standard enchilada variations,breakfast tacos till 1pm and a host of luncheon tacos[Carne Guisada,Chicken,Barbacoa etc]...they also offer restorative Menudo on Saturday.
I inquired about Posole and Carnitas and was politely informed they offer neither.
With MPH's recent ruminations on Chorizo echoing through my skull I ordered a Chorizo and Egg taco as well as a Bean and Cheese taco.
I asked if either the Corn or Flour tortillas were homemade and was met with the answer I always dread "no".I asked for corn, was swiftly brought a tiny bowl of Chips and a tinier bowl of salsa and settled in nicely..The chips were industrial,the salsa a non-descript red with little upfront flavor but a slow,mild heat burn that kicked in after a minute or so.
I had seated myself in the rear of the room and was afforded a nice view out the glass back door.The tire shop next door a few stray weeds poking up out of the soil and some broken furniture provided a nice,broken tableau.
I love Chorizo.That being said I've about given up on finding a delicious version in Austin[help MPH].San Juanita did nothing to dissuade my view.The Egg to Chorizo ratio was high and the Chorizo itself was unremarkable.The corn tortilla was not delicious.
Then I bit into the Bean and Cheese and remembered why I got into this whole damn thing in the first place.Sweet,sweet essence of Hog virtually exploded in my mouth.Porcine goodness to the nth degree.On par with Seis Mesas and Abbarotes Mexicano for intimacy of relationship to Pig.
I LOVED this taco.I could've eaten a half dozen of these beauties.
San Juanita Tacos has Soul.That elusive quality that is so rare in Austin[but wonderfully abundant in the Deep South].I plan on returning soon and working my way through their menu.If any other item approaches the quality of the Refried Beans then we have a good score on our hands.
this is why we should be blazin' trails on all those unsuspecting carts, trailers, dives, etc. ya eat a chorizo taco that's lacking in flavour and then you get a bean & cheese taco that porks it up. amazing. i'm pretty sure i've seen this place, and am now very much motivated to check it out. any info on hours of op ?
ps. i don't think i've seen the scrumptious use caps ....
re: tom in austin
It is hard to find amazing chorizo in town. Last time I checked, Don Luis was still doing a pretty solid chorizo con huevo, despite their downhill slide:
The San Antonio places that I mentioned [in the above link] make much better versions, though. Maybe next time you feel like taking a long ride, you could check one of them out?
Thanks for starting this thread - it really is in the spirit of what this forum was supposed to be about, and clearly it still can be, thanks to you intrepid ones.
This damn assignment has been nagging at me for a week now, but I'm glad it has forced me to branch out too.
I hadn't seen any mention of Taquerias las Chivas on the board, so I decided to give it a whirl, mostly because I saw this sign (just bought my first camera, so bear with me):
And if you needed a reminder, there's another sign as soon as you walk in:
I don't need to be told twice. Chivas is a very clean joint, maybe not rough around the edges enough for you scrumptiouschef ! There are booths along the windows and a few tables in the center. A little store with soccer merch in the front. I was the only non-Latino person there and they don't speak much English and my Spanish is atrocious. Some of the workers were hunkered down over bowls of soups -- I saw some birria, pozole, and menudo -- folks sucking the marrow out of big honking bones. Everybody seemed to be getting down on the soups there.
After a bit of a confusing back-and-forth with the staff, I ended up getting the ricos tacos (cabeza, tripa, campechano, longaniza, suadero) and, not wanting to miss out on the soups, I got some pozole.
My understanding of suadero, longaniza and campechano is pretty limited, so I hope others can help out and hopefully others will head over to Chivas to try these out for themselves. Here are the tacos:
I really liked the commercial corn tortillas which held up quite well to the 7-minute drive back home. They weren't dry or rubbery in the least.
The campechano is, I think, a combo of beef & longaniza. Elsewhere (ex-Austin) when I've had this it has been like a combo of chopped up carne asada and chorizo. Longaniza is, I think, like a chorizo, right ? Anyways, since I ordered both, I may have been a little redundant, and probably should've ordered a sesos (beef brains) taco as a replacement. But luckily, it was all delicious. I think this is the campechano:
http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1263/1388169632_8fa7c97ab7_b.jpg -- Nice and crispy, a little greasy (good), and a few pieces of fatty beef mixed in. Nothing was very aggressively spiced, but flavourful nonetheless. Def'y enhanced by the good salsas.
So I guess this is longaniza, although a few bits of beef got mixed up in here too:
http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1388/1387278413_090c0e1d82_b.jpg -- you can see those crispy, caramelized bits. Fantastic.
All I know about suadero is that it's bovine, but just from a quick look at Wiki it seems as though it comes from the breast of the cow, and is smooth in texture. This was pretty good, though after eating the longaniza I think it was just a little bit lacking in flavour I desired. It was mostly tender with a little chew & crisp. The spicy salsa brought this up to a very enjoyable level.
The cabeza was a welcome textural contrast. This is what I love about cabeza -- that rich, buttery mouthfeel. It was delicious. Again, not heavily spiced with anything that I could tell, but very good on its own and complimented by just a little salsa.
Tripas were actually better than most I've had, but not as good as the ones I had at Tom-Gro recently. There were a couple of pieces in there that didn't have enough time on the flattop.
I haven't had much pozole in Austin or in my life for that matter. Would love to hear the experts' thoughts on this one. I enjoyed it very much - not very spicy, but a delicious broth with lots of (but not too much) hominy and a good mix of lean and fatty pieces of pork. Just a touch on the over-salted side, and a little on the under-garlicked side for me at least. Still quite addictive.
Really liked this place and the folks there were very nice, despite our communication difficulties. I will definitely return to try the birria and menudo and the other tacos, chilaquiles, and so much more.
Taquerias las Chivas
It's just south of Oltorf & I-35, on the feeder road beside I-35.
Outstanding fieldwork MPH and Nab.Unfortunately MPH had to take one for the team but that is what being a hound is:boldly foraging and taking the occasional body shot for your efforts. I've had more bad food than most on my path toward intense deliciousness[run down and beat up only sometimes means greatness lurks behind battered walls] but still I hound it down.I'll be rolling by Taqueria Las Chivas tomorrow for a Sunday constitutional of Posole,thanks Nab.
Make sure to ask for all the accoutrements, chef. My to-go care package didn't have radishes or chopped cilantro (had regular limes and key limes, chopped onions, lettuce and tostadas). I just gotta have the radishes.
I felt like a nervous student awaiting my grade on this assignment. Thanks for passing me on effort -- I hope you dig Chivas.
I checked out a few items at Taquería las Chivas Jalisco today. The name of the taquería seems to reflect the owners' home team: There's big poster of the Guadalajara Chivas football team on display. As Nab said, this place [located on the southbound I-35 access road between Oltorf and Woodward] is almost a little too white-washed. I mean that literally, since the interior has been freshly painted white. There's plenty of seating for those who want to eat in, including booths along the front wall and several tables with wooden chairs. When I stopped by, two Hispanic families were enjoying chow while listening to Spanish-language music on the jukebox. If you're in the market for soccer merchandise or CDs, head to the partitioned-off room that Nab mentioned.
Since I wanted food to-go, I went straight to the counter with a register that's near the front. I availed myself of a Jarrito from the cooler behind the counter and a menu from the rack near the front counter while deciding what to order. The process was harder than you might think. Nab's picture just shows one part of TLCJ's extensive menu, which even includes pancakes at breakfast-time.
Like Nab, I thought the store-bought corn tortillas were pretty good (they're doubled up for the tacos). The store-bought flour tortillas were okay but nothing exciting. They reminded me of the ones sold under the brand-name "La Mejor." The slightly watery salsa was muddy-brown in color and contained a lot of seeds. It seemed to be made from dried red chiles as well as fresh chiles, but no tomato or cilantro. The salsa was fairly hot but not too complex.
In order to be able to contribute something new to this thread, I tried not to repeat what Nab had already reviewed. All tacos came with very large pieces of cilantro and roughly chopped white onion, unless otherwise noted.
Chicharrones—These weren't bad. They were spiked with lots of dried-red-chile powder, which made them nice and hot, and their texture was soft, steamed, and non-slippery. This filling was better than average for Austin.
Lengua—This was decent once I'd added some salt, but the filling consisted of just plain steamed tongue that was sliced about 1/4" thick and loaded into a taco. It wasn't the best-quality tongue, either.
Barbacoa—Their shredded-beef barbacoa was greasy but bland, even with the addition of salt. A bone was still attached to one large clump of meat in my taco. Overall, this filling did not taste good on its own. [Note that barbacoa and cabeza are two different menu options, and I tried the barbacoa instead of the cabeza, which Nab had already sampled.]
[Puerco] al Pastor—An unexceptional version that was heavy on the red-chile powder but otherwise lacking in flavor. Part of the problem was the poor quality of the pork itself.
Beef fajita—I should note that I'm just guessing that this taco was filled with very chewy beef fajita meat. It certainly wasn't the picadillo that I'd requested. Unless this was their version of suadero? But that would be hard to believe. At any rate, this beef taco-filling was pretty flavorless. Serving it with shredded iceberg lettuce instead of cilantro and onion did not help.
Tripitas—Well-fried, crunchy, one-inch-long "rings" of tripas. With the addition of cilantro and onion, this was the best-tasting filling of the bunch. However, it was not one of the best versions of tripas in town.
I also sampled their menudo, which did not fare well in comparison to the delicious version I'd had at El Rico last weekend. Compared to what was used at ER, the tripe was positively ugly-looking. The pieces were huge and some were of a distinctly globular texture; moreover, not all were honeycomb tripe. TLCJ also uses a lot more red-chile powder, which made their menudo significantly redder and a bit spicier. They also do not skim off as much of the grease, which floated in a thin layer on top and clung to the sides of the take-out container. Like El Rico's version, TLCJ's did not contain hominy or Mexican oregano. I wouldn't order this at TLCJ again.
Nothing that I sampled proved to be amongst "the best" versions in town, though I didn't try the items that Nab checked out. To me it seemed like the best thing about this place was the large variety of traditional Tejano-Tex-Mex and Northern-Mexican options. There are relatively few places in town that serve so many taco varieties that don't fit the gringo-Tex-Mex model. In terms of quality and execution, however, Taquería las Chivos Jalisco seemed more like down-and-dirty fast food than the carefully presented and prepared cuisine at a place like El Rico. Each restaurant serves different needs, of course.
Thanks to Nab, ashes, Carter B., and all the other 'hounds who contributed new reports to this thread. I love to hear about places that are outside of my current field of operations.
Earlier this week I checked out El Ranchito, located on Pleasant Valley between East 4th and 5th Streets. This restaurant is a bit hard to see, as it's set back from the road. It has a drive-through, however, which exits onto the next street parallel to Pleasant Valley. The entrance to the dining room is located just past the drive-through. I'd characterize the interior as homey (not unlike the exterior, which looks more like someone's house than a restaurant.) The concrete floor is painted, and there’s a new mural on one wall. They also have a jukebox, and there are assorted tables and chairs around the room.
The menu is handwritten on big pieces of poster board. While their hours are supposed to be 5:30 A.M. to 11 P.M., I've seen them closed at 6 P.M. In addition, the drive-through is not always manned. I imagine the best chance of finding it open for business would be during the morning rush.
Both the corn and flour tortillas used for tacos are store-bought, with the corn ones marginally better than the flour. Corn tortillas are doubled up but not oiled before taco fillings are added. A thin, watery red salsa that was more hot than good also comes with every order.
Dishes sampled (as taco fillings, unless otherwise noted):
Chorizo and egg—This was darkly speckled, with more chorizo than egg, and nicely greasy, but it was not the best-quality chorizo. Hence, it was just “not bad,” at best. In retrospect, this was the most-flavorful taco that I tried, but I still didn’t like it.
Beef fajita—To be avoided. This tasted like boiled meat. It looked gray, too, though some bits were browned. One lonely piece of green bell pepper was mixed in with the meat. This taco could have been even worse, but it was still not good. The cut of beef itself was just flavorless.
Chicken fajita—This version of "fajita" meat had much more salt-and-pepper flavor than the beef, along with a lime-like component. The chicken was moist, but on the bland side. Even so, this was probably their second-best taco filling.
Potato and egg—This tasted awful compared to the delicious one I had at El Rico a few days earlier. I had to spit out the first bite. With salt and salsa, it was palatable but not delicious. I'd say this taco was more filling than it was enjoyable.
Carne guisada—With fairly tender chunks of beef but no “gravy,” this was a so-so version of this stew-like beef dish. In other words, this was another mediocre-to-below-average version of carne guisada. The beef tasted like the flavorless cut used in the “beef fajitas” taco.
Barbacoa—This was suffused with a spicy pico de gallo [that was not requested], which made it hard to analyze the barbacoa itself. Stewed tomato and bay leaves were visible in the meat. This was greasy, but not truly flavorful on its own. It was also not cow’s head.
Gordita with beef fajitas—A nicely-oiled, decent-tasting, but not-fried gordita [like a fat, thick corn tortilla made from masa] was split in half and filled with beef. Because there were no beans, cheese, or anything besides the beef inside the gordita, it seemed dry and dull on its own. There was, however, a large mound of shredded iceberg lettuce, tomato chunks, and grated white cheese (like a Monterrey jack) on top of the gordita. The fajita meat from the gordita tasted better than the version served in the taco, perhaps because it was freshly griddled and contained more green pepper. Still, this dish was not exciting. The gordita can also be filled with any of the other taco fillings, any of which would probably be a better option.
Other menu items included lengua (which they were out of on my visits), a huevos rancheros plate, a hamburger, and a two-piece chicken plate.
I have to say that El Ranchito’s food was just not good enough to warrant a return trip, especially since there are so many excellent options in the same part of town. I haven't had such a bad meal on the east side since La Terraza. I imagine that ER’s customer base consists of employees of Capital Metro Transportation Authority who want a nearby drive-through option for lunch and breakfast tacos. Still, there's only one way to find out if a place is good, and that's to try it. Though El Ranchito was a bust, I'm happy to have chowhounded for the larger cause of more deliciousness for us all.
At the rec of someone else on the board, I checked out Hoa My this weekend, very good Vietnamese fare with a varied menu.
Veggies were fresh and sauce was well balanced on my tofu noodle bowl and the well grilled pork my brother had garnered 2 thumbs up.
I'd grade it above average.
Good to know there is a decent Viet place if I'm ever in that area.
Driving down North Lamar, feeling pretty hungry, and with this assignment in mind, my eye was caught by a sign sporting the proven marketing colors of red and gold (on the west side of the street between Parmer and Braker). I was relieved to find that it was not a chain fast-food restaurant, but a place called Rufi's Patio and Grill. I pulled in, and found the place nestled in a group of former houses turned commercial around a shared parking lot.
There was a row of tables outside on the south side of the place, which would be nice in the evening or later in the fall. On a 90+ degree day, I opted to head inside. Plenty of Longhorn regalia was in evidence, and a friendly young lady with purple-tinted hair was there to take my order. The menu is primarily of the gloppy-cheese-covered Tex-Mex variety, with enchiladas, beef tacos, beef chalupas, carne guisada, and puerco guisado on the regular menu. I should have taken notes on the daily specials, but Monday was cheese enchiladas, Friday was spicy picadillo with papas, and there was a soft beef taco somewhere in the middle.
I started with a glass of sweet tea and some chips and salsa while they made up my plate. The tomato-based salsa was thin but had a building heat, and it looked to have bits of chopped cilantro in it. The chips were industrial and the tea was pretty standard.
To get enough to talk about in a single visit, I mostly had a carne guisada plate, but I also tried a chicken tinga chalupa, which was part of the lunch super special. In the plate, the carne guisada was bland, with meat that reminded me of a Campbell's Chunky soup. The refried beans had a good texture, but needed either bacon grease or more spice in the beans to give them more flavor. The tortillas were store-bought, and somewhat rubbery. The most flavorful parts were where they got a little toasty in heating. Oddly, the part of the plate that stood out as above average in quality was the rice. It was moist and fluffy with a hint of chile.
The chalupa was a flat, thin crispy corn tortilla, piled with spicy chicken tinga, lettuce, tomato, and a bunch of melted shredded cheese. It was not outstanding, but the spiciness was welcome after the blander plate.
All in all, it may not be the kind of place I'd have written about after trying it, were it not for the assignment, but it would probably be a good place to sit on the patio, drink a few beers, and munch on inoffensive food. Unless someone finds a hidden gem among the specials, though, I wouldn't call it a destination for 'hounds.
Thanks for taking one for the team Knoblauch.You could have just as easily wended your way a bit further south and had a plate of greatness from Tam and been well rewarded....you knew that and decided to go for something new instead.At least Rufi's has sweet tea ,that glorious Deep South elixer that is so very rare on Austin menus.A good report on [unfortunately] a joint bereft of intense deliciousness.
First responder here.A few hours after the above post and in dire need of sustenance after a fiery iBROWNOUT! show at Mohawk I wandered afield across the highway and began a methodical roll down the alleys of East Austin.
The taco cart with no name at 6th and Comal has been one of my staunchest options for the past couple years but I really wanted to go a place I'd never been.
I hit major paydirt in the parking lot of Primos at 1700 E.6th St. Another taco cart with no name and [disturbingly]no que at a very prime hour.
Undaunted I strolled up to the window and perused the hand written board of offerings. A big hot steel contraption right inside the booth was piled high with sizzling meat,bubbling gravy and sweet onions.The meat was unrecognizable so I just pointed "I'd like some of that please".I inquired as to whether the corn or flour were homemade and she responded"Yep,they're homemade at the tortilla factory over there"gesturing in the general direction of the railroad tracks.The young lady then made me a couple tacos that were so juicy and delicious if I had MPH on my speed dial I would have rousted the hound and demanded an immediate audience.
Mid gorge I asked what I was eating"Hog testicles and brisket" she replied with a smile[was there a hint of challenge in the smile?...I'm not sure.] "Great,I love Hog testicles"I gamely responded.
Both tacos were simply garnished with grilled sweet onion,lime juice and a cold preparation of Habanero,Limon and more onion.The red and green salsas were both good but honestly I'd tacked so hard into the tacos she could've squirted anything on em and I would have been happy.
Although there is no sign the name of this new and major player in the 2007 Taco Cart Wars is Sauls'[I asked].They're open in the evening and conveniently located a few feet from Primos which is a classic icehouse with a gigantic tv and walls made of cattle fencing.
It's too early to tell if we have a contender in the vein of El Rico or El Rinconsito but Sauls' has this hound's nose opened nice and wide.
You *should* have me on your speed dial! It would be like a deliciousness hotline.
Thanks for this new tip on Saul's. It sounds quite intriguing. And, this was a great idea for a thread. I'm not ready to review my never-before-mentioned spot yet, but I already have a contender. After I get a chance to revisit on Tuesday, I'll post a report.
In the meantime, maybe our fellow chowhounds will share some of their new discoveries.
Apparently you now live in Austin. Mrs. Joypirate and I are flirting with the idea of running the Austin Marathon. I would prefer to remain in the top physical shape of my life for no more than 6 hours maximum. Ideally, post run (when the EMT's have given me the all-clear), I intend to insert some sort Carnitas/Pozole/Chili/Ribs mainline directly into my body.
I'm just doing some preliminary research as the only way I'd agree to this madness was if I was allowed to choose where we ate every meal.
That said, if you know of a place that would let me strip down to a speedo, dive into a vat of menudo and eat my way out, hook a fellow-former-Boston-hound up.