Tacos in Austin for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Damn straight.
While there’s no denying the appeal of the Doritos Taco™ at 2 am on a Thursday, it’s a decision that requires the cover of night, a lack of viable choices, and oftentimes the ingestion of mind-altering substances to justify the purchase – especially in Austin. Here, taco connoisseurship and a love of all things local, organic, and independent are aggressively cultivated. Tacos are an art form, with permutations ranging from the traditional al Pastor found at parking lot trailers on the east side, gourmet Korean and Vietnamese fusions on the west side, to the organic, vegan, locally sourced fare that unites two of Austin’s most vocal demographics: hippies and yuppies.
In honor of this Texas food staple, I went and ate a bunch of tacos, trying to find both the best as well as those made with locally sourced and/or organic ingredients. The assessments:
Tacodeli’s Breakfast Tacos
The breakfast taco is a Texas classic and Tacodeli’s versions, using organic and local ingredients sourced year round from Texas and community farms, consistently earns accolades and “Best Of” lists. The organic bean, cheese, and egg tacos at Wheatsville, Austin’s co-op alternative to its more famous grocery export, will easily keep you full through lunch, and comes with an excellent Pico de Gallo. Veggie chorizo tacos topped with alfalfa sprouts are the way to go at Mr. Natural, a longtime Austin landmark, but their house salsa was unfortunately watery and had no kick.
Chango’s al Pueblo
Chango’s boasts natural, Texas-raised, and humanely certified meats in their repertoire. Yes, vegans, I know, but the beef tacos del pueblo are still delicious. Slightly charred on the outside and pink on the inside, they come wrapped in a handmade tortilla, with a heaping amount of cilantro and salsa on top. The vegetarian mushroom version is also tasty, but much less filling, so get two. El Chile’s soporific puffy tacos will likely make you pass out before the evening starts, but they’re a proven alternative to Xanax.
Be More Pacific’s Taco Libre
Even at 2 am in Austin, there’s really no excuse for eating terrible food, especially if you’re broing it up around 6th Street. Asian inspired taco trucks are the big trend, and make for excellent hangover preventatives. Be More Pacific’s Taco Libre, which combines chicken adobo and elote, are something that I actively pine for when away from Austin. The Peached Tortilla’s Banh Mi taco is an ode to Texas’s thriving Vietnamese community, with impressive results. For those who do insist on fast food alternatives, Taco Cabana – a Texas-based chain – boasts tacos assembled with house made tortillas, a prodigiously huge salsa bar, margaritas, and open 24 hours. No judgment if you happen to steal your roommate’s car to get there at 3 am.
Images: Dave_B, Anh-Thu Nguyen