500 Tacos: Alonzo’s Tacos
A taco a day for 2015 — and then some
907 Montopolis Drive (map), 512-389-3338. Hours: 6:30am-2pm Tue-Fri; 7am-2pm Sat; 8:30am-2pm Sun
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 07.11.15
Alonzo’s has been around since 1990, but I’d never heard of it before this series. But then again, I don’t live in this neighborhood, and these aren’t the kinds of tacos that generate conversation outside of where they live. In its favor, Alonzo’s is cool and shady in its low, shotgun building, protected from the sun by boards over the slit windows. It’s clean and friendly, save for the rules and sub-rules posted like a daycare: no dine-in orders after 1:30, no refunds, close the door. All things considered, this report isn’t an endorsement, but a bit of record-keeping in a 365-part series that doesn’t leave a lot of room for being particular.
The taco: Barbacoa
Of the five tacos in this report, this is the only one worth singling out, good or bad. There’s color here, from fresh and aggressive pico de gallo, which offsets the acute gaminess of the cheek-meat barbacoa, which is pulled and chopped into tiny strands glued together by the meat’s inherent lush fattiness. Observations, not endorsements. ($2.25)
► The rest of the story: In a market where so many shops make their own tortillas, lay out salsa bars and turn even the simplest tacos into showcases, Alonzo’s is as plain as a school cafeteria that does none of the above. Pork al pastor is unadorned, bone dry and missing the achiote/adobo swerve of even modest pastor. Carne guisada is a sticky mass of fatty roast in viscous tan gravy. Migas are better, with fresh eggs, cheese and a good balance of fried tortilla chips — but nothing red, green or joyful to make it in this migas market. When the best taco of the bunch is bean and cheese, something’s not clicking. (Pastor and carne guisada $2.25; migas $1.50; bean and cheese $1.25)
► Tortillas: Both the sticky flour tortillas and corn tortillas are storebought. But — and I didn’t see this on the menu until it was too late — all tacos come on flour unless otherwise specified. You don’t realize how much al pastor needs corn until it’s sliding out of a gummy commercial flour tortilla.
► Salsa: They didn’t make green salsa the day I was there, just a modestly spicy, jar-style tomato red. With tacos that need all the help they can get, Alonzo’s should look into getting a salsa bar.
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)