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There Can Be Only One:Your Single Favorite Taco In Austin.

There Can Be Only One:Your Single Favorite Taco In Austin.

I eat alot of Tacos.I eat them from Taco Carts,I eat them in Taquerias,I eat them at my house,I eat them in grocery stores,I eat them wherever I can get them.

A taco I had earlier today at Mi Ranchito was so amazingly good that it set me to thinking:What is your single most favorite taco in Austin?

Had you asked me that around 2pm today I would have unhesitatingly said "Mi Ranchito's Chorizo,Frijoles and Queso".

I've loved this tiny little shop for awhile now.It's on East William Cannon a few blocks east of I-35 on the south side of the street.It shares it's space with a well stocked quick mart and seats about 20 people.

The nomenclature here is a bit different than is typico.You'll find Gringas,Panbazos and Sincronizadas for instance.

Everything I've sampled has been flatout delicious but the Chorizo here is otherwordly.As I've said before the first time I sampled it I wanted to drive over to El Meson and just start brawling with their cook,we'd start in the kitchen and then finish the dustup in the parking lot.Fueled by Mi Ranchito I'd be up on charges and wondering where my next taco is coming from but it'd be worth it.

The tortillas are not homemade.I know,laziness keeps them from statewide fame but they somehow have found a commercial source that's decent at least.My taco today comes out and she's good looking.Straddling two,griddled,non oiled corn tortillas the Chorizo has been sauteed til crispy and then used as a garnish on some good Refried Beans...she's then been garnished with some Monterrey Jack cheese which I then garnished with a cold preparation of Sweet Onions pickled with Mexican Oregano and Habaneros.Further garnishment includes fresh squeezed Lime Juice and two types of Salsa Verde:a loose Tomatillo based one as well as a creamy Poblano.Both salsas are good but it's the Chorizo,THE CHORIZO,that takes it to the next level.It's rich and smoky and salty and it sits just right on your palate.It's filled with porky goodness but it's not fatty.

This is the Chorizo that I've always sought but rarely found.Although I did once eat an entire pound of it in customs when they caught me smuggling some back into the States.The agent said it's gotta go in the trash so I walked over to the trash can and started this unholy wolfing down of the meat.He watched and smiled..you could tell he was just a guy doing his job and probably wished he was giving a pound of Chorizo the ol business.

So let's get the discussion started.Please tell me your favorite taco[only one]in Austin and of course why.One sentence responders can scoot on over to another post I need some meaningful input.

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  1. Do breakfast tacos count? El Arroyo on 5th, coming from a morning swim at Barton Springs: 2 chorizos, please: $3 (used to be a buck apiece), a salsa for each. Eat them on top of my parking garage facing the Texas capitol with a napkin tucked in my collar and NPR on the radio. They're usually good and hot, just the right egg/meat/cheese ratio, the salsa is cool and fresh. I do that before work about twice a month.

    7 Replies
    1. re: legadillo

      Tacos Bañados at what I hope is soon to be reopening La Regiomontana. The way the corn tortillas soak up the tlaquepaque really does it for me, nit to mention the great salsa verde and a little lime.

      1. re: El General

        I will die of chowhound grief if I never again get to enjoy the tacos bañados at La Regiomontana. That’s the dish I was going to order the day I found the restaurant closed. After a long trip abroad, my first chow instinct was either to visit Taquería el Rico [but it was too late to hit that taco cart] or go for the powerful combo of El Regio/La Regiomontana. If the city had not run off Taquería el Rinconsito, it would have been on my radar, too.

        I really can't pick just one taco unless we were doing a "best of its kind" discussion, so my choice is rather arbitrary. Still, I'll nominate the potato-and-egg taco at El Rico, which I plan to enjoy soon. This breakfast-taco filling is served everywhere—and usually badly. Most of the time, I’m pleased if I get a so-so version rather than a truly horrible one. The superlative rendition at El Rico, however, tastes so good that you’ll happily eat it on its own. Their taco-cart egg scrambling may leave something to be desired, but the lovely, flavorful potatoes and that touch of subtle spiciness added to the eggs more than make up for it. El Rico makes the only potato-and-egg taco that I've *ever* tried (and like scrumptious, I eat a lot of tacos) that made me stop still, sit up straight, and thank the chow gods for smiling on me. I'm tempted to keep going on and on, but instead I'll just link to a past rave:

        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/439939

        1. re: MPH

          MPH,
          I love your sleeper pick.It's great but I always have a hard time eating a non meat taco at El Rico,Araceli is on point when it comes to preparing all the traditional Mexican meats.Have you had her bacon?It's just pass cooked and filled with porky fat.I'm zeroing in on a brand new cart off 183 that specializes in Cabrito w/consomme.Report coming soon.

          1. re: MPH

            I'll "me too" this post about El Rico's potato taco. I don't eat many tacos and when I do they are usually breakfasty and this one is the best I've had--thanks MPH for turning us on these tacos.

            1. re: Carter B.

              I agree that the bacon at El Rico is not to be missed. A hungry chowhound can add some strips to the potato-and-egg taco for over-the-top goodness, or go with the classic egg-and-bacon filling. Or maybe just opt for bacon with bacon. I look forward to your report on the taco cart that serves cabrito, scrumptious.

              So glad you love this breakfast taco, too, Carter B. By the way, I was just trying to remember the name of that place in north Austin that you reported on in one of scrumptiouschef’s "go to a place that’s never been reviewed on this board" threads. I think you really liked their chorizo, if that helps. Do you remember the name of it? If so, have you checked out their tacos recently?

              1. re: MPH

                It's called Taco More at Runberg & Parkfield. I've been three times for breakfast (and once for lunch which didn't wow me). Each time I had the chorizo one but none ever matched the taste that first time. Also, I would swear up and down the first time I saw them making the corn tortillas in the back, but both times when I returned I didn't see any evidence of it. Anyway, if you are in the area, it's worth checking out but I wouldn't drive out of the way for it. On the plus side, it's in the same strip center as the Mi Guatlinda (sp) that has been mentioned on the board once or twice for Guatemalan food.

                1. re: Carter B.

                  from a previous post:

                  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.

      2. I'm interested to hear votes for the best Al Pastor in town. Anyone?

        2 Replies
        1. re: wwiggins

          Yeah, my favorite Pastor and taco for that matter is the Al Pastor taco by the restaurant and taco stand of that same name (i.e. Al Pastor) on E. Riverside. Absolute heaven, perfection. And cheap. And the people serving seem happy, which is amazing to me, a service industry grunt myself.

          Though that said, there are many other great versions in town of al pastor tacos and other ones. Breakfast tacos should count, IMHO, and thankfully many places do include fresh or grilled jalapenos (instead of those nasty, dumbed-down pickled ones). I'm a bit surprised nobody's mentioned La Michoacana on E. 7th.

          Another thread idea would be favorite non Mexican style tacos, since there are so many good fusion places. Is there all that much difference between say a spring roll and a taco?

          1. re: taliesin15

            Rosita's is also the best pastor that I have had, and I enjoy their flour tortillas, though they have been spotty of late.

            A recent layover in the Mexico city airport let me know something about the state of pastor tacos in Austin. As I was browsing the fast food options in the airport, I noticed a trompo with delicious looking al pastor being cooked in what looked like a new stand there. It looked like a chain and had a name of Tacos More or something like that. Anyway, I thought there is a trompo and it smells delicious, who care if it is a chain.

            It was the most delicious al pastor I have had in some time, and much better than anything I have had in Austin.

          1. re: yimay

            ding, ding, ding.... I second angie's carnitas taco. Great carnitas in a homemade, and then fried, taco shell (for those of you who haven't been lucky enough to sample one).

          2. In light of the recent closings of some of our favorite mom and pops I dug up an early reference to El Rico.It would be a shame if we lost what I feel is the best taco cart in Austin proper.

            Montopolis....driving around and eating from the locals

            Spent a languorous Sunday driving around the Montopolis neighborhood looking for off the beaten path chow.Totally rewarded.Had amazing carne asada tacos from a cat selling em out of his sideyard...it looked a bit like a family reunion but what the....pulled over and strolled up,everybody was drinking cans of beer and hovering around a big drum smoker with meat blazing.1.50$ tacos with great pureed chile style salsa[no tomatoes]...hopped back on the bike and hit a quick mart parking lot taco cart called El Rico...superb tostadas,hot crispy corn rounds smeared with lard-y refrieds,topped with cabbage,red radishes,stewed chicken,crema[perhaps Salvadorena]tomatoes,onions and cotija cheese[2bucks]....had to try her Al Pastor and it was top notch....served on housemade corn tortillas with both red and green sauce[nice and fiery on the green] buck fifty tariff....spent an hour driving around looking for my fried fish man but he's elusive...catches em out of the nearby Colorado and rotates around the hood cooking out of his buddies yards....maybe another day.MPH,three words GO FOR IT.

            1. Eat a taco today and write about it.

              1 Reply
              1. re: scrumptiouschef

                Not what you had in mind I'm sure but made a mad dash thru to Taco Bell just as they were closing and had the new volcano taco. I was pleasantly surprised with the kick in the sauce.