Barbecue and Tacos - A Report Back
Just spent three very enjoyable (if hot!) days in Austin. Here are some notes from the trip.
First the barbecue - we did a lunch run out to Lockhart. When we arrived at Kreuz Market, the aroma in the parking lot hit us as soon as we got of the car - lovely, savory, smoky goodness We ordered a quarter pound of brisket, a hot sausage and a pork chop (no sides - we only had stomach room for the main event). The sausage was very good, and the pork chop had a great smoky flavor. The standout, though, was the brisket. Fantastic! I've never tasted brisket even close to that good. Amazing meaty taste, and the fat melted in your mouth.
Ready for more, we drove down the road a few blocks to Smitty's Market. This time we ordered brisket and sausage. I thought that the sausage was not as good as Kreuz - less flavor and a more soft texture. As for the the brisket? No contest - it wasn't in the same league as the slices we had at Kruez. Nowhere near the same intense, smoky flavor.
I'm guessing that there are potentially a lot of factors at work here - what piece of meat you get, what part of the piece of meat you get, what kind of day the guy manning the pits is having, etc. At Kreuz, we got slices off of the small end of a piece of brisket that had just come out of the pit, so I'd be surprised if that didn't have at least something to do with it. I wish we had the luxury of being able to come back regularly to research more...
Overall, a truly delicious and enjoyable experience. Pictures here:
Now for the tacos. First up, Rosita's Al Pastor. Less than inviting from the outside, but somewhat more so on the inside, Rosita's is a sit-down, order from your table place. A brief language negotiation with our friendly waitress revealed that our broken Spanish was somewhat better than her broken English, so Spanish it was. We did notice, though, that they will bring the owner (who speaks English) to a table if there is a communication problem.
We ordered Tacos Al Pastor and Enchiladas Al Pastor. The tacos were very pretty, with a nice red tinge and the requisite dusting of onion and cilantro. Unfortunately, the taste was a let-down. The texture was good, if a bit on the crispy side, but the meat had very little flavor. The enchiladas were more successful - mainly because of the tasty red sauce (they normally come with green, but it wasn't available). The rice and beans did little to win us over - again, not much flavor. The table salsa was very pleasant, however.
A very different expedition had us at Torchy's Tacos for a post-bat-watching dinner. Torchy's caters to a decidedly more hipster crowd than Rosita's. They definitely get points for charm, with their brightly lit window surrounded by small tables and mellow music wafting through the warm evening air.
We started out with Chips and Green Chile Queso. What can I say about freshly made nachos by candlelight? To accompany our cheesy goodness, we had a Green Chile Taco, and a Democrat (beef barbacoa). Both had pretty good flavor, but the meat lacked texture. Completely edible (and eaten), but nothing very special. I wouldn't get take-out from here, but I really enjoyed the meal on premises. If I lived nearby, I might be a regular.
We didn't neglect breakfast, hitting up Habañero Mexican Cafe on our last morning in town. We liked the place immediately. Inviting from the outside, and a bright friendly feel inside.
We had a couple of breakfast tacos - Egg and Potato and Egg and Chorizo. Both were ok (especially with the addition of their very good table salsa), but the focus of the meal was the Migas. Migas were a new dish to us - they seem to be very similar to a chilaquiles, but more uniform in texture (i.e. fewer whole pieces of tortilla). We had the Chori-Migas - scrambled eggs cooked with chorizo, pieces of tortilla, onions, peppers, and cheese. The refried beans were also top notch. And it came with fries! The best part, though, was rolling our own Miga Tacos - scoop a bit of everything into a tortilla, add some salsa, and dig in. Bliss.
We had a great time visiting your town, and we're looking forward to coming back.