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Sep 28, 2008 08:34 AM

The Divine Food of El Tacos Rico

El Tacos Rico 810 Vargas Rd

Business is slow today for the discount funeral wreath man who sets up shop on a grassy knob alongside Montopolis on the weekends.I wonder if he sits there fretting "go ahead and die already, I gotta eat" ? Who knows?

El Tacos Rico is my favorite Mexican restaurant in Austin.I've referred to it as such inspite of the fact that it's a tiny,timeworn trailer with a folding table under the overhang of a grizzled laundry mat for seating.

I eat lots of tacos in Austin each week and this is my primary source of intense deliciousness.

Montopolis feels so good.The air smells flowery,the streets are all abustle and the Autumn light is starting to get that orange-y glow that makes Ray Bradbury reading this time of year essential.

Walking up to the window my timing is perfect as a beefy Mexican cat is being served a steaming bowl of Menudo.The aroma of this delicious dish combined with some very aromatic bar soap the man has used in the shower this morning makes for a powerful combination.

I stay focused by looking at the menu which I know by heart.Enchiladas,Flautas,Quesadillas,Tostadas,Sopes....all the Mexican you could ever dream of wanting and yet I almost always get the tacos.

Yolanda and Araceli flat bring their A-game when it comes to this simple dish.Barbacoa is the finest meat on the menu, on par with La Monita for finest in town.The Al Pastor is not from the Trompo but is juicely roasted and the Bistec is Yolanda's version of the classic.While it's not going to make you forget Habanero's it is solid.

The corn tortillas are as good as any you will ever put in your mouth.My guess is love is the main ingredient.These tiny Latin girls are putting their heart in their food[perhaps a topic for another post:"Who's cooking with their heart in this old town?"]

I ride all over town sampling tacos from as diverse a set as I can find.Tacos el Rico is the best I've found.

I'd love to hear about your favorite source.

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  1. Is it just me or when the executive chef is away at most restaurants does the quality not slip a bit?

    A perfect example is Backstage Steakhouse where,when Raymond Tatum is not on the range the establishment is pedestrian at best.

    So it's with a heavy heart I place my order at El Tacos Rico at midday today.I stick my head in the window to say hello to Yolanda but Araceli informs me she's off.I fight the temptation to drive off but figure with Yolanda's blood coursing through young Araceli[her daughter]I might just get something fit to eat.

    Well after my meal all I can say is Araceli's a real comer.As a matter of fact Yolanda would do well to keep her A game as her only game or she might get run off.

    I've vowed to branch out from the taco section of the menu today so I order a Sope' with Al Pastor and a Tostada with Barbacoa,walk over to Vargas Food Mart to procure some Spicy Peanuts,Fried Pork Skins and Topo Chico and return to the cart to have a seat and soak in some ambience.

    The numbers parlor across the street has reformed itself into The Bridge Youth Center.I'm not sure what this is but the building has been almost completely covered with some decent graffiti extolling the virtues of peace over war and living your life Krunk[which I do nightly so verily unto these good folks].

    The food arrives and I begin pondering a quickie marriage to Araceli so I can assure myself a lifetime of good eating.I briefly picture myself with an enchilada in one hand and a vacuum cleaner in the other as I tidy our humble cottage,hopefully not too far from Yolanda's.

    I keep a poker face as I eat some of the best Mexican food I've had all week long[which given the fact that this is my 5th Mexican meal this week really says something].

    My Tostada with Barbacoa is a nice fried corn disc topped with good refrieds,white cheese,onion,avocado,chiffonade of cabbage,thin sliced radish,crema and a toothsome Barbacoa;nice and fatty and soulful tasting.

    My Sope' is virtually identical save the Al Pastor and the fact that the fried masa disc achieves the neat trick of being crispy and chewy at the same time.Plus it's about 5 times thicker than the tostada shell.The al pastor is so good I think Yolanda may be doing it on the trompo off site and trucking it in.

    The hang is always good at El Taco Rico.The sweet sunshine filters down and around the laundry mat overhang where I'm perched,some crazy wild young Mexican kids are running at breakneck speed around the doorway,a shiny black Chevy truck rolls by blasting DJ Screw.

    It's quite the pleasant scene.

    8 Replies
    1. re: scrumptiouschef

      Could anyone please provide a quick update as to when El Tacos Rico is generally open? Went by this morning around 8:00, not a soul around.

      Ended up eating at an unnamed yellow taco truck that I've seen parked in the Govalle Food Mart lot for at least the last few months. I don't think anyone has writen about this truck, perhaps because people have not had good eats there. I should have known better when I arrived and was the only customer, but I was hungry. I had a tripe taco and a carne asada taco (no barbacoa), both fillings did not have much flavor and were on store-bought, average flour tortillas, though the green sauce was not bad.

      Much obliged for any information on El Tacos Rico.

      1. re: turkeysandwich

        I know they're open for lunch. I've been there between 12:00-3:00 several times over the past few weeks and they've always been open.

          1. re: turkeysandwich

            If Yolanda's not around Tom Gro on nearby Montopolis does a good job.It's been written about on the Austin board but has probably dropped off the chow one year archive.With a little searching the info you need is out there.

            1. re: scrumptiouschef

              The two places I'm jonesin' for right now.

              Lobstah rolls for your tacos ? Same-day shipping. Hook it up scrumptious. Send Yolanda up here.

              1. re: Nab

                Recent reports of Yolanda's formerly world class barbacoa now being "very fatty, very bland" have me wondering if the queen of Austin barbacoa could've slipped a bit?

                I haven't been in a couple weeks so I'm curious as to whether she's slipped?

                When I started eating barbacoa in central Texas in 1991 I ritually drove to San Antonio to visit the molinos and sample their weekend only barbacoa specials.

                After La Monita opened I had a world class source in Austin, that frankly, had no real Austin competition til Yolanda came along with her take on the Hidalgo classic.

                I'll run by there in the next few days and work through a brace of her tacos but til then I'm wondering if any of the veteran barbacoa hounds on the board have been of late?

                1. re: scrumptiouschef

                  I finally got there yesterday for the first time and was very pleased. (The location is lovely.) Didn't try the barbacoa, but the suadero was perhaps our favorite. Good pastor, too. Thanks for the tip.

                  Btw, have Candy and her taco trailer resurfaced anywhere? Her tacos are still my favorite.

                  1. re: storefronteats

                    I really don't get the fascination with this place. i've had far better pastor around town, the suadero was decent but nothing worth the prose dedicated here in my opinion. I kinda think folks just like the idea that its a trailer in the original sense.