Monday, May 4

Video: El Rey del Al Pastor - Los Barrilitos - Chicago

The time I had a bro-mance with Jorge, El Rey del Al Pastor! Part of my "6 Essential Tacos To Try In Chicago’s Pilsen And La Villita Neighborhoods" on Remezcla. Also, one of the best tacos with extras including cinnamon and Chile de Arbol molido!




Friday, May 1

Los Tacos de Chicago - Pilsen/La Villita Edition

So y'know every time I travel I'm always on the taco hunt. A few weeks ago I was in Chi-town and of course I was drawn to the Mexican barrios to discover the taco scene in Pilsen and La Villita. With a little help from Chicago's own Titus Ruscitti of @TweetsofTacos, we hit it, the tacos, the barrios, the beers! Here's the taco piece I wrote for Remezcla...


Remezcla: 6 Essential Tacos To Try In Chicago’s Pilsen And La Villita Neighborhoods
Sepping into Chicago’s Pilsen and La Villita neighborhoods is like transporting yourself to Mexico; you can feel culture hit you through chatter of the streets, the endless tienditas and taquerias, the Mexican families going to work or taking their kids to school, and the coffee snobs enjoying their morning lattes and cafecitos.

The day’s tally was a total success:


  • 2 espressos
  • 1 visit to the National Museum of Mexican Art
  • 10 sweet mural sightings
  • 6 taquerias
  • 1 tortilleria
  • 14 tacos
  • 5 beers and 2 whiskeys (at a bar that, by day is packed with paisas, and by night, with hipsters); and
  • last but certainly not least: 1 best friend moment with Jorge, El Rey del Al Pastor!


Read the full story aquí! 

Friday, March 6

2015 SXSW Taco Map - Los Real Deal


Another year, another SXSW, another round of lots of non-Austinites hunting for the tacos.

Here's a quick listing of taco places in around a lot of the SXSW venues. Be warned: some of these taco places are aggresively mediocre, but are included because of their proximity to festival sites. Read the blurb before going and check the SXSW Taco Map!

*- Good
** - Amazing
*** - Spit Hot Fire!

Veracruz always welcomes you with a smile! Photo by Dennis Burnett
Eastside

***Veracruz All Natural
The secret is out. These taco sisters and their band of taco helpers make some of the finest tacos in Austin. Eat a Migas and Fish taco and an Al Pastor call me in the morning!

You can also find these tacos in the SOUTHBITES Food Court this year!

**Tamale House East
Great 2nd location of the Austin Original (RIP). They have extended hours during Music Fest and beer & wine, craft beer, local kegs and music. Good stuff!  We'll be serving their tacos at the SXSW Taco Meet Ups!

*Cenote 
Great tacos and coffee.  

*El Pollo Rey
Great Al Pastor & Carne Asada tacos!

**Porfirio's
"I've been eating at Porfiro's for over 15 years. Consistent, good quality food. I have friends from San Jose who still talk about."

***Rosita's Al Pastor
Best Al Pastor in town. Except when its not. Like anything amazing in life, it is a bit inconsistent.

***Joe's Bakery
Probably the best breakfast spot in Austin! On East 7th, pretty close to the action. The place is great. It's families and neighbors and newbies all mixed up.  We'll be serving their tacos at the SXSW Taco Meet Ups!

**Mi Madre's
Tamale House East: Photo by Dennis Burnett
El Mundo de Mando's favorite place. A bit far away from the main venues, but worth a breakfast trip. Get the Machacado breakfast taco.



West Sixth

Valentina's Tex Mex BBQ
Try the brisket tacos! Great addition to the W. 6th taco scene.

*Whole Foods
The taco bar is in the front of the store by the deli. It'll get the job done, but the real secret are the fish tacos at the seafood bar. Happy Hour from 3p-5p is where it is at!

Zocalo
They serve decent tacos but they're a bit overpriced. Also, they seem to be confused about what carnitas are.



Downtown

La Condesa
Probably the best fancy tacos downtown. Try the huitlacoche!

***Southbites Food Court
Chilantro, East Side King, Ms P's Electric Cock & VERACRUZ!! Your best bet for eating downtown during SXSW.


South Lamar-ish

***Habaneros Mexican Cafe
Amazing grilled meats and queso! If you can stand the heat order your beef or chicken fajita ranchero style. We'll be serving their tacos at the SXSW Taco Meet Ups!

***Papalote
Amazing breakfast tacos and lunch special. Eat everything!
A Plethora of Breakfast Tacos from Habanero's Mexican Restaurant, Photo by Dennis Burnett

Maria's Taco X-Press
Overrated, but 'ok' tacos.

*TacoDeli
Tacos done right. This isn't really on South Lamar, but its close enough if you don't mind some cross country hiking. We'll be serving their tacos at the SXSW Taco Meet Up.

South Congress/South First

Guero's
If you are a fan of Grindhouse, you may enjoy this place (it featured prominently in it). The tacos are mediocre, at best. This is only included in case you are either desperate or tempted by the crowds.

Torchy's 
Everyone is going to tell you to go here. It's decent, but not worth the crowds. Walk down to El Primo or La Mexicana and get twice the food for the same price.

**El Primo

2101 South First. Great tacos, friendly service.

*Mellizoz Tacos
Great tacos on S. 1st - and if they are around try the lobster rolls at Dock & Roll next door.

La Mexicana
Open 24 hours. Great tacos. Go there anytime.

North

*Paco's Tacos
Near Austin Film Studios on 51st St. Great breakfast tacos and great half flour/half corn hybrid tortillas. If you are in the area. Do. Not. Miss!


SXSW Taco Map

SXSW Taco Dictionary
  • Al Carbon: Grilled over charcoal
  • Al Pastor: Pork with adobo seasoning. Excellent.
  • Beef Fajita: Grilled skirt steak
  • Carne Guisada: Stewed meat usually with gravy
  • Carnitas: Roasted Pork
  • Lengua: Tongue
  • Tripas: Intestines
  • Menudo: Tripe Soup
  • Chicharron: Fried (or not) Pork Skin

SXSW Taco Eating Hints
  1. Everything tastes the same after 6 beers. Feel free to skimp on the quality.
  2. If you have consumed less than 6 beers, walk the few extra blocks to eat the good stuff.
  3. Unless otherwise stated, avoid the chicken tacos.
  4. Despite what everyone will tell you, you totally do NOT have to eat at Torchy's. No, it won't blow your mind. Punch everyone that tells you otherwise.
  5. Don't buy pre-made breakfast tacos at most coffee shops. Eat them fresh. Seriously. Well, unless those pre-made breakfast tacos are at SXSW Taco Meet Ups, in which case it is TOTALLY OK to eat them.
  6. Don't be afraid to explore taco trailers we didn't mention. If they have a small line in front of them, they're probably pretty good.
  7. Even if the order taker doesn't speak English, waving your hands and pointing usually works well enough.
  8. Order a Jarritos (a Mexican fruit flavored soft drink) or a Mexican coke with your taco. It's just natural.
  9. A lot of trailers, and some restaurants, are cash only. Bring some just in case.
Did we miss your favorite taco spot? Tell us and we'll rectify that shit -  tacojournalism@gmail.com

Friday, February 20

The Go-to Tex-Mex dishes in Austin

Tex-Mex, it's its own food group in Texas. From the cheese, to the queso, the Velveeta and sometimes the government kind, Tex-Mex is uniquely Tejano. Rooted in Mexican but somehow the queso took over and while most die hard Mexicans would dis-own it, we in Texas, well we love it! In Austin, Tex-Mex has been a thing since vaqueros and cowboys shared their first breakfast taco! For Eater Austin, I did a round-up of Tex-Mex dishes in Austin and be warned, if you lost your queso edge or if you make your staff make "guacamole at the table" you're not on this lista!

For the full listing including map, locations & sexy Tex Mex-y, click aqui for the 10 Classic Tex Mex Dishes in Austin.

Habanero's Mexican Cafe
Beef Fajita Ranchera
The fajitas rancheras are the bomb! Prepared al mesquite style, add plenty of spices and jalapeños and you got one of the best fajitas in town.

Matt's El Rancho
Bob Armstrong Dip (Queso)
Yeah that queso has been flowing in Austin for over 50 years now. If you wanna have some Velveeta dreams then I suggest the Bob Armstrong Dip topped with guac and ground beef or if you wanna double down, add the smoked brisket!

Amaya's Taco Village
Crispy Beef Tacos
A staple in Tex-Mex, the crispy taco doesn't get better than ground beef, pico and cheese. These are crispy tacos that haven't lost their crispy edge.

El Azteca
Cabrito Plate - Where do Tejanos eat cabrito? In McAllen and East Austin. What can I say about the cabrito? It pretty much tastes like cabrito. It's a crispy like carnitas and tender like beef and with a hint rancho flavor. For you city slickers, just dip it in the warm red salsa that it comes with to ease off the rancho.

Joe's Bakery
Carne Guisada Plate
One of my favorite spots in Austin. The carne guisada is sweet, tender, gravy-licous. Be warned, this carne's sweetness comes from pork rather than the more traditional beef.

Cisco's
Migas Taco
One of the last East Austin icons left standing. They've been dodging ghosts, developers and hipsters over the last few years. I'm glad I can still go and get myself a Migas taco with buttery biscuits of course. This is an easy cheesy, no frills Migas taco and hits the spot every time.

Enchiladas y Más
Beef Enchiladas
Nothing says says Tex-Mex like "hot plate -  hot plate!" Let's just cook the whole plate in the oven and hope you don't get burned while you're eating the cheesy, beefy enchiladas. All you gotta do is let it simmer down and don't forget the raw onions!

La Fuente's
Super Nachos con Beef Fajita
I'm more of a let's pile the tortilla chips on the plate and add the fixin's type of guy. I don't know who doesn't eat messy nachos, expect for those that like their guacamole made at their table! La Fuente's follows up the messy with crispy fajita and layers and layers of guac, pico and all the lettuce in the world!

Mi Madre's
Migas Plate
Another hit in the breakfast category. The Migas plate keeps the Mexican in Tex-Mex with a kick. Nothing like fresh jalapenos and onions and still crispy tortilla chips in your huevos.

Dart Bowl Cafe
Enchiladas with fried eggs
What's better than eating enchiladas with fried eggs while getting a little tipsy and bowling?!? Absolutely nothing! The Dart Bowl enchiladas are a guilty pleasure with the extra greasy enchis, served with fried eggs on a fajita-style dish. Plus you get to hangout with the senior citizens.



Thursday, December 11

12 Days of Breakfast Tacos: My Morning Migas by Addie Broyles

Nuestra amiga Addie Broyles - foodista, writer, mommy and former What Not to Wear celebrity has many talents and you might as well add breakfast tacos to her lista. We all love our migas tacos but how do you mix it up or give 'em a little healthy kick??? Let's thanks Addie for My Morning Migas con Brussels sprouts! Check out Addie's recipe below.

BTW, today is the last day to order your signed book. :( I know, we're sad too. So get yours today!



Excerpt from Austin Breakfast Tacos: Addie Broyles, Relish Austin - Austin American-Statesman/Austin360

Tell us about yourself and your connection with Austin...and the breakfast taco.
Even though I was raised in southwest Missouri, my family ate a lot of breakfast tacos growing up. We (foolishly) called them breakfast burritos, but that quickly changed when I moved to Austin in 2005. I’ve always been a savory breakfast kind of person, but it was only a matter of time before I couldn’t think of something savory to eat for breakfast that was not a breakfast taco. I didn’t start making migas until I started to grow a little tired of the traditional bacon, eggs and cheese breakfast tacos and when I decided that vegetables for breakfast was a pretty good way to sneak even more greens into my diet. I make a living writing about food for the Austin American-Statesman, but I don’t consider myself a professional cook, and this recipe for migas is one that anyone with a frying pan, eggs and stale tortilla chips can make. (And yes, fresh chips will work in a pinch, but I save the last crumbles in the tortilla chip bag specifically for making migas.)

Whatever else you decide to put in your taco will evolve by the day and by your tastes. I used chopped Brussels sprouts for this version because that’s what I had in my vegetable crisper, but I’ve made it with leftover roasted sweet potatoes, last night’s grilled zucchini or quickly sautéed chard or kale. Cheese isn’t absolutely necessary, but I do like to throw a little in there to finish the dish.

Recipe: My Morning Migas
2 tablespoons salted butter, divided
1⁄2 cup chopped Brussels sprouts, stems
removed
1⁄2 cup lightly crushed stale tortilla chips
3 eggs, gently beaten
2 tablespoons shredded cheese (optional) Salt, pepper and Sriracha to taste
2 flour tortillas

In a small sauté pan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Gently sauté the sprouts until they start to soften and turn bright green. Add the last of the butter and the chips. Stir to coat the chips in butter and continue cooking and stirring until the chips are lightly toasted and the sprouts have cooked for another few minutes. Add the eggs and cheese to the pan. Cook as you would scrambled eggs, stirring regularly but not constantly to ensure that the eggs cook evenly. If cooking on a gas stove, warm tortillas over flame (or in a pan or griddle, if need be).

Remove from heat and fill the tortillas with the migas. Top with Sriracha or other hot sauce, as desired, and enjoy. Serves 1 generously or 2 for a smaller breakfast.

Tuesday, December 9

12 Days of Breakfast Tacos: @OmarG's Tube Sausage Breakfast Tacos

We heart the @OmarG for many reasons beyond tech and newspaper writing. We love his original yet simple recipe for breakfast tacos. I mean who doesn't love tube sausage??? AMIRITE???

Want more fantastic breakfast taco recipes??? Order the book by Dec. 11th aquí!

Omar Gallaga - @OmarG

Why do you love breakfast tacos?

For me, it’s genuine comfort food. They’re quick, they’re filling, you can put practically anything in them and, with a bit of salsa, they start your day with a little kick.

Simple Sausage, Egg and Cheese Taquitos
1 roll of sausage (I like Jimmy Dean All- Natural or Maple Pork Sausage, but any kind works fine)
5–6 eggs 
1⁄2 teaspoon salt 
1⁄2 teaspoon pepper 
1 teaspoon paprika 
8 corn or flour tortillas 
Salsa or hot sauce of your choice 
1⁄2 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, American
or any Mexican style you prefer)

Liberate about half of the sausage roll from its container and roll it into small, 1⁄2-inch balls or crumbles and cook on a skillet over medium heat until browned. Put aside.

Crack eggs in a bowl and add salt, pepper and paprika. I like lots of paprika, but you may prefer a little less. Scramble the eggs and begin cooking on a sprayed or oiled pan over medium heat.

Add the sausage to the eggs once they’re cooked, and mix well. Cook the tortillas until they’re brown and firm and fill them with your egg/ sausage mix. Add salsa and cheese and enjoy!

Monday, December 8

12 Days of Breakfast Tacos: Mi Madre's Machacado Taco

I'll take #9 any day of the week. I literally at that taco for like 3-4 times a week when I worked just blocks from Mi Madre's Mexican Restaurant. You can't go wrong with Mi Madre's machacado & egg breakfast taco + I grew up eating machacado in the West Texas town of El Paso. 


So Mira Look! Taste test your own Machacado at Mi Madre's or make it at home via El Libro. Get it here

Mi Madre's #9: Machacado, Egg & Pico de Gallo Breakfast Taco
Photo by Dennis Burnett 

Excerpt from Austin Breakfast Tacos: Aurelio Torres, Mi Madre's Mexican Restaurant

Why do you think Austinites love breakfast tacos so much?
I’ve been in Austin since 1986. The breakfast tacos were not always popular. It was a food we’d hide and eat ourselves because it was the cheapest food, because people were eating sandwiches. The perception was that sandwiches were high class and tacos were cheap. I began telling people that the taco is the way to go. Why? Because it’s very portable, you can eat it while you’re driving; I can make tacos of sushi if you want! Anything can be placed in a taco.
In 1996, I won the best taco in Austin according to the Austin Chronicle. Awareness grew then; people began to see that it was ok to eat a taco. Now, the taco is diversified in so many ways that I am like,“YES! YES for Austin!”

Mi Madre’s Machacado Taco
In the beginning, we used to buy our machacado (shredded dry beef) from Monterrey because that is the most traditional place to get machacado. One of the reasons it is most famous in Monterrey is because it is the desert region of Mexico, and not too long ago we didn’t have refrigeration in those days, so people started preparing the meat and drying the meat to process it—dry it and salt it to process it and preserve the meat. After they dried the beef, they had to shred it, and they created machinery to shred the meat into machacado.

Now there’s a lot of processing, and the quality of the meat is suspect. There are people that say they might be processing donkey meat, and it might be true! How are you going to know? So that’s when I started to think, well, I should make my own machacado. I know how to do it, I just have to remember the whole process. So the way I do it is I buy the brisket, which is the cheapest cut, and we bake the brisket and then we shred it after that. After we shred it, we let it rest in refrigeration for about a week. And it did the trick for us because it would dry it even more. And it kept it safe. After that, we throw it on the griddle and we season it. We started putting black pepper, a little bit of cayenne. Even flavored machacado. You can put lemon in it or fajita spices. Up to this point, you can tell it’s really a lot of work, shredding it, pull out the gristle. Then, after we cook it on the griddle, we use a little bit of oil, but not too much. We let it roast a little bit. Then we put it in a food processor, and that’s how we shred it, with the spices and everything. It’s ready to be used. We pack it and refrigerate it. When I make the machacado myself, I accomplish three things: quality control, preserves the flavors and ensures the safety of my customers, which is of ultimate importance to me. I don’t even know if there is anyone else doing this, making their own machacado. It’s really a lot of hard work. And I learned how to make the machacado because every day my mom would send me to get a block of ice because we didn’t have freezers. And we would get the meat and cut up the steaks and have to process and dry it out right away.

Recipe
2⁄3 ounce machacado, heated on the griddle with bit of oil
Pico de gallo 
Eggs, scrambled 
Tortilla, heated

Let the machado and pico de gallo mixture cook a bit before adding scrambled eggs at the end. Serve on top of a hot tortilla, fold and eat.

Friday, December 5

12 Days of Breakfast Tacos: El Primo - South Austin's Favorite Taco Trailer

El Primo is definitely one of South Austin's favorite taco trailers. It's my go to place for real legit Mexican tacos and they're in El Book! Check out their easy Chorizo and Egg taco recipe and get the book aqui!

El Primo Trailer on South 1st. Photo by Dennis Burnett
Excerpt from Austin Breakfast Tacos: Jose Luis Perez, El Primo
Why do you think Austinites love breakfast tacos so much?
I really don’t know what has made the breakfast taco so popular. When I first opened on First Street, it was just me and Torchy’s Tacos. Now, no matter where you go, you can find one. At first, there were like one to two hundred food trucks; now there are over a thousand, and not just breakfast tacos but all kinds.

Chorizo, Egg and Cheese Taco
Cook chorizo on a hot griddle for about 3 minutes, or more if you prefer. Pour the egg on the griddle and mix with the chorizo until it makes an omelet and then scramble. Heat up the tortilla until warm. Add cheddar cheese on top of the egg and chorizo until it melts, and wrap it all inside the tortilla.