Best Carne Guisada
I generally judge the worth of a restaurant by the quality of their Carne Guisada. In my opinion there are few things better than great Carne Guisada tacos. I think the best place in Austin that I have tried so far, and I've tried many in my 40 years here, is Rancho Grande at Anderson Lane and Lamar. I can't vouch for their other offerings since this is the only thing I order here, after all you don't go to the Louvre and skip seeing the Mona Lisa. Try it on Corn tortillas. Please let me know who you think makes the very best Carne Guisada in Austin and I'll give it a try.
Nearly all Mexican-restaurant carne guisada is made with beef (res) nowadays, and carne de res guisada can be awfully good, to be sure, but there used to be a little place in Montopolis, at the intersection of Felix and Vargas, called Montopolis Taco Inn, and they made carne de puerco guisada that to my taste was transcendental. I can come close to duplicating it at home, but I've never had any other restaurant carne guisada that was in the same league. If anyone knows of any place currently making it with pork, please speak up.
I found that Amaya's Taco Village in the Capital Plaza Shopping Center down from the Walgreens has good Carne Guisada. There was also a taco stand at Rundberg and Lamar across from Walgreens that was good too.
Much like you I love Carne Guisada and I'm always looking for a good place. I've worked for several Walgreens in Austin (I get transferred a lot) and tend to know a lot about the taco stands around them. Hmmm sounds like I might have an addiction.
I thought the carne guisada at Joe's was pretty tasty—and one of the better items I sampled there:
Like you, gntlmn6464, I sample this dish all over town. In my opinion, there are better versions than the one at Joe's—though, granted, they're found in spots with fewer middle-class comforts, shall we say. I'm not sure if our tastes match, but if you're willing to take a chance, here are my favorite versions in town:
Taquería Piedras Negras
very small, casual restaurant:
take-out counter in a small grocery store:
Longer reviews of all the above are available via a search of this board.
During my high school years, I was annually shipped off to the grandparents where I served a three-month sentence working at a water-ski resort for the vacuous Houston elite set who owned summer mansions on the lake. Needless to say, I generally worked 50-60 hours a week for a sub-minimum $4.15/hour covering for a whole host of ne'er-do-well trust fund babies whose parents got them employ under the auspice of showing them the value of hard work. My summers generally sucked and remain unmemorable, but for a few things.
The club/resort was minority restricted (unstated, if obvious), so the only minorities around were the cooks and the waitstaff. I was lucky enough to have found the favor of the cooks, and was therefore invited to share in the non-menu southern dishes that they cooked for themselves (fried chicken, mac and cheese, greens, chicken and dumplings, etc.), any of which were infinitely better than what patrons were being served.
Those of us unrelated by membership to the resort tended to get KP duty-with an emphasis on dishwashing-where we were able to hone our skillz at lifting (and I don't mean picking up) cases of beer from the walk-in, which we would retrieve at night's end as what we regarded as a fringe supplement to our slavish pay.
So after putting a few back with the hairband du jour blaring in the background, taking a few dips in a murky Texas lake and whatever else we could do to disengage ourselves from our indentured servitude, my comrades and I would head into town and roll up about 2 a.m. on a little 24-hour dive called Huela's Taco Hut where we'd wolf down our fill of the best tacos around.
Huela's wound up shuttering when gang violence in the surrounding neighborhood got bad enough to drive away her patronage, and ever since that distant time, I've been trying to find a guisado that approximates those killer tacos we used as teens to soak up beer before heading home after a full day and long night. I went by Seis Mesas today and not only found the guisado I've been searching for, but the place itself could've been transported across the time and space of my memory.
Thanks, MPH, for knowing and sharing the good stuff. I'll be checking out the other recs since we seem to have similar tastes in that particular dish.
What a great flashback/report, Twill. I'm so glad to hear that you enjoyed Seis Mesas. This little place instantly became one of my favorite spots in town when, on my first visit, the server offered me—on the house—about half of a pan of delicious refried beans just because (1) I'd told her I loved the ones that came with my plate and (2) the beans would otherwise have gone unappreciated, since the restaurant was about to close.
You've inspired me to get back to some of my early faves instead of always going for "full coverage" of the east side. Please keep the reports coming.