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Hottest Taco Joint in Austin

Hello Austin Hounds,
I am from Toronto and am helping curate a large Canada vs USA taco throwdown in October as part of a Food Network sponsored event. I would like to know what are the top/ hottest taco joints in Austin to reach out to for this job. I'm thinking like Rick Bayless/ Big Star in chicago kind of "hot"- not necessarily the most authentic (I know, I know, but this is media), but rather, somewhere with a big following. Looking forward to tasting their goods!

Abbey
www.abbeyskitchen.com

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  1. So an overhyped, overcrowded taco joint that will play well on TV? Without a doubt: Tacodeli.

    1. Torchy's as well for a place that focuses specifically on tacos.

      Neither place is very Rick Bayless though. For that, maybe somewhere like La Condesa or Benji's. They're not taco joints per se, but are more of the sort of Frontera variety.

      A great authentic option would be Taco More, if you're willing to deviate from the "hot/hip" vibe.

      2 Replies
      1. re: popvulture

        Should also add just for posterity's sake that while I like Torchy's and Tacodeli just fine, they'd definitely be toward the bottom of my list of places to suggest if someone asked where to get tacos in Austin.

        1. re: popvulture

          Please, let's not confuse television with reality!! Wouldn't it be great if someone was really interested in what the BEST taco is and wanted to put that on television??!!!

      2. > Canada vs USA taco throwdown

        Uhhhh. If the contest is fair, I think I can predict the winner.

        ...

        For the sort of cachet you're talking about, I'm guessing you want Franklin? Just put the brisket on a tortilla.

        Austin's great taco thing is that we have all these great places to get tacos. We don't have a Franklin of tacos; we've kept it much more distributed (and thankfully, with much fewer long waits and much cheaper prices).

        You could go to a mini-chain like Torchy's or Tacodeli or Taco Shack or Taqueria Arandas, etc., but you're seriously missing the point if you do this. None of them have the credibility or universal foodie acclaim of (for example) Tacos Rico. http://www.yelp.com/biz/el-taco-rico-...

        If you have to pick one of these sorts of places, I'd say flip a coin between Torchy's and Tacodeli. If this is the way you're picking the contestants, there is a good chance Canada could win! ;)

        1. So, hipster tacos? Probably Tacodeli.

          1. I'd put el taco rico and la fruta feliz's offerings against any taco anywhere anytime. The folks that run / cook at those joints are the nicest people one could meet and any self respecting taco show should at least make mention. And are they really ** that ** much more spartan than Taco Deli and Torchy's for TV-dome? I mean, if it's all about TV, La Condessa's interior is a lot more visually inviting than any place else that serves tacos.

            1. What sort of tacos? Personally I love the carnitas tacos at Angie's but there are plenty of folk who think the tortillas are greasy and the carnitas are bland. On the first point I'd say, "Yeah...what's wrong with that?" On the second point I'd concede the point but grab the salsa. Her bowls of Salsa are too small, about the size of a Whataburger ketchup. I also like the beef tacos at Amaya's. I don't "get" Tacodeli or Torchy's.

              1. I'm liking Tim's idea of Angie's puffy carnitas taco - that's a gem with its iceberg lettuce, dripping oil and nuclear orange cheese food product shreds. The service almost always at least slightly sucks on pace - but who really has to care that hard? Theirs are among the porkiest and most consistent carnitas in town.

                6 Replies
                1. re: slowcoooked

                  Okay I am kind of leaning towards El tacos rico, and maybe la fruta feliz. Any others LIKE that? I dont want to go as chain-like as tacodeli if possible

                  1. re: hungryabbey

                    Don't overlook Amaya's Taco Village. Long time Austin favorite and not a chain. Their food is true Tex-Mex which is kinda what you want if you are coming all the way to Austin, and their Village tacos are legendary.

                    1. re: Alan Sudo

                      Didn't Angie have a stint at Amaya's along the way? I have heard that said. I love Amaya's. Nice call. BTW I think Pelon's, which is in Jaime's old building, while generally ok, may have the worst tacos I have ever eaten. The tortillas taste like the kind that come in a box at a grocery store already formed ... Yikes! I wonder how any boxes they have to go through to find unbroken ones to serve? Their salsas bring some redemption.

                        1. re: hungryabbey

                          Hugryabbey you may also consider (not to keenly grasp the obvious for you) going at it by filling, and I wouldn't include any place that doesn't take the effort to make their own tortillas - at least one version.

                          Pastor - I like it crispy and tender, well seasoned with deep, red achiote - La Fruta Feliz griddles up their marinated morsels made to order. If you wanted to film a place that does it well and using the most traditional method - go check out Chuy Bakery's vertical pastor rotisserie referred to as a trompo.

                          Carnitas - again, La Fruta Feliz takes the cake. But so does Angie's - theirs is just a greasier, porkier version that can be served on a puffed up thick masa tortilla that's deep fried - a puffy taco. good stuff.

                          Beef Picadillo on a hard taco - I'm not sure who I'd rate for this, maybe Amaya's? Hopefully others can fill this one in.

                          Fish Taco - Again, I will defer this category to someone more in the know.

                          Barbacoa - head meat. For me this is where La Fruta Feliz (goat / chivo and beef), El Taco Rico (beef), and Taquito Annaya (corner of Guadalupe and Airport) shine.

                          Breakfast Tacos - a recent chow thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/900421

                          This by no means is meant to be exhaustive. tripe, cactus paddles (nopalitos), cut up tamales, chicharron (pork skin), chicken (tinga), avocado and tons of other primary fillings can be found around here, to name a few more.

                          1. re: slowcoooked

                            All good thoughts. It seems to me that you need to focus on a presentation where there is enough commonality to make a relatable comparison. For example a best sandwich comparison in my world might pit Chilantro's bulgogi with fried egg against Royal Blue's pancetta, Roma tomatoes, arugula, and mayonnaise on an insanely good baguette against each other, and there'd be no declared winner...too good and too different. For tacos it seems Picadillo or carnitas are pretty universal and al pastor is pretty common, too. BTW, my daughter swears by Maria's al pastor, but I cannot vouch as I invariably go with her miniature omelet breakfast tacos.