Our top 10 picks for celebrating (that’s right) National Taco Day in Austin
October 4 is officially National Taco Day, and though Austin does a pretty good job of celebrating the humble street food all year long, we want to spotlight a few of our favorites. Considering the vast array of choices, it’s hard to settle on only 10, and we no doubt missed a few of your top picks. But as we all know, everyone has their own personal tastes. Let us know which tacos take your top spots.
Below is our list of Top 10 Tacos (in no particular order):
When friends come to town looking for a quick taco fix, there’s really only one place that manages to please everybody: Tacodeli. I’ve yet to try a taco there that I didn’t like, which is why three of their tacos landed a place on this list.
Beef Taco — Tacodeli, The Cowboy Taco: There’s a reason this taco made Texas Monthly’s list of the 63 Tacos You Must Eat Before You Die a few years ago. It’s just really good. With chile-rubbed tenderloin grilled corn, caramelized onions, roasted peppers and guacamole this little taco is spicy, tender and packed with flavor.
Pork Taco — Tacodeli, El Conquistador: When I’m not ordering my standard Cowboy Taco, this is usually my next choice. Using slow-roasted pork shoulder seasoned with chile pasilla, this taco is garnished with avocado, cilantro and onion, and is usually best enjoyed on a corn tortilla. Before serving, the shredded pork is placed on a skillet to crisp up the edges for added texture and crunchy caramelization.
Mole Taco — Tacodeli, Shredded Pork: Not all moles are created equal. When you want a taco that’s elevated to that rich, soulful state of mind that good mole should take you to, Taco Deli’s version does the trick. It features a traditional poblano mole with nuts, dried chile, charred tomatoes, seeds and a hint of Mexican chocolate. You can get it with steak, chicken or portobello mushroom, but it’s really best with shredded pork on a corn tortilla sprinkled with onions and cilantro. Heavenly.
Crispy Taco — Zocalo, Tacos El Barrio: The whole point of a crispy beef taco is that it stays crisp until the last bite. Too many places use a crunchy tortilla that gets soggy way before it should. At Zocalo in Clarksville, that doesn’t happen. They use a thicker shell that really holds its crunch. Served with a simple pico de gallo and fresh salsa, the ground taco beef is well seasoned and still leaves a little bit of that “orange” grease most aficionados claim is the signature of the crunchy taco.
Pork Taco — Guero’s Taco Bar, Al Pastor: Always a great spot for happy hour, Guerro’s continues to deliver on making you feel like you’re in a vibrant little Mexican cantina. I love an order of tacos al pastor —marinated pork, topped with chopped onions, cilantro and pineapple. A couple of these served with an El Magnifico margarita, and it’s a happy hour indeed.
Fish Taco — Quality Seafood, Mahi Mahi: At this home of the freshest seafood in town, you can get everything here from Gulf shrimp to fresh-caught redfish and grilled oysters to order. It’s also a great place to find fish tacos. You can order them with mahi mahi, catfish or shrimp — grilled. blackened or fried. The grilled mahi mahi with fresh mango-pineapple pico de gallo is a uniquely refreshing taco experience that tastes like the sea.
Breakfast Taco — Cenote: There’s a little coffee shop on East Cesar Chavez called Cenote (seh-noh-tay). It’s a great place to plug in and get some work done, but their little breakfast tacos pack a punch. Homemade corn tortillas with egg, cheese and crispy bacon, which isn’t always true with every breakfast taco. (Try it with chorizo if you want a bacon alternative.)
Beef Taco — JD’s Market, Barbacoa Taco: Out on 1826 toward Driftwood is a Texaco that has a Mexcan market, bakery and kitchen inside. On any given day, you’ll find posole or menudo on special along with a number of quick Mexican lunch dishes. One standby is the barbacoa beef tacos. Rich and slow-cooked, they’re a tad on the greasy side, but with a touch of spicy “green sauce,” they’re some of the best tacos in town.
Breakfast Taco — Rosie’s Tamale House, Suicide Breakfast Taco: This is a sentimental vote. I grew up near Lake Travis off of U.S. Highway 71, when there was nothing around but a Texaco and Rosie’s Tamale House. A lot has changed in Bee Cave, but Rosie’s has not. And when it comes to their suicide tacos, that’s a good thing. As you might expect, it has everything you can fit into a breakfast taco: eggs, potatoes, sausage, bacon, cheese. It’s a bit of a heart attack inducer, but it’s great with their house-made salsa. Tastes like home.
Veggie Taco — Torchy’s Tacos, The Independent: I’m not a vegetarian, so I often forget to check out the veggie-centric side of menus. That changed when I tried the Independent for the first time. With battered, deep-fried portobello mushrooms wrapped up in a flour tortilla with refried black beans, roasted corn, escabeche carrots, queso fresco and avocado, it’s not exactly healthy, but it get the job done when you need a power taco meal.