500 Tacos: Angie’s Mexican Restaurant

 
 
An Austin taco a day for 2015 — and then some
 
Angie’s Mexican Restaurant
1307 E. Seventh St., Austin (map), 512-476-5413
Hours: 7am-5pm Sun; 7am-4pm Mon; 9am-9pm Wed-Thu; 7am-9:30pm Fri-Sat
 
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 11.09.15
 
It’s all about texture at Angie’s, a longstanding Tex-Mex fixture on the East Side. Saltillo tile, iron rails, wooden beams, yellow and blue stucco. Set back from the racket of East Seventh Street, it’s like a hacienda destination for Austin Tex-Mex the way it used to be, and at its heart is a unique approach to tacos.
 
The taco: Angie’s “soft” beef taco
There’s a middle ground between crispy and soft tacos. They understand it in San Antonio, home of the puffy taco. In Austin, places like Vivo, El Chilito, MiJo’s and Amaya’s explore that territory, too. But Angie’s has mastered the art of frying a thick corn tortilla just long enough to hold a half-moon shape with a crackly veneer without losing the pull-apart chewiness of a first-class handmade tortilla. They call it a “soft” taco here, a state it progresses toward as heat and time transform its texture — which is why you should eat it first and eat it fast. It’s filled with lettuce, tomato and shredded American cheese over ground beef that’s hot and juicy but as bland as a quarter-pounder — a malaise with a solution as simple as table salsa. ($3.25)
 Tortillas: You can’t make a taco like this without the right base, and this is one of the best handmade corn tortillas in the city. It has more worry lines than a mother of four, with concentric ridges like cornrows that give it strength, flexibility and character.
 
 
 Angie’s Special: A good way to experience that taco — and Angie’s as a whole — is the combo plate called Angie’s Special: a taco, guacamole, a cheese enchilada, rice, beans and a fresh corn tortilla. The enchilada’s smothered in chunky chili gravy, the rice has real tomato and pepper heat to back it up, and the beans are a fortifying Tex-Mex whirl of chop and velvet, ($8.99)
 Carnitas: This shredded pork taco serves its tortilla master better than the ground beef. Like a plus-size model, the carnitas shows off its extra curves, even celebrates the fat by frying it crispy to give the lean fibers something to hold on to. Big pork flavor with a chewy character that matches the soft-fried tortilla texture for texture. ($3.25)
 Breakfast: Angie’s serves breakfast all day, with platters (migas, huevos rancheros, machacado and the like) and breakfast tacos starting at $1.95.
 Salsa: The table sauce that rescues the beef taco is a simple blender-full of tomato, jalapeño, garlic, salt, cilantro and onion. Nothing fancy, but expertly balanced.
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The 500 Tacos Project
 
 
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)