500 Tacos: Antojitos Hondureños

A taco a day for 2015 — and then some
Antojitos Hondureños
7901 Cameron Road (map), 512-317-9593. Hours: 9am-9pm Sun-Thu; 9am-10p Fri-Sat
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 06.26.15
The countries of El Salvador and Honduras are next-door neighbors. In that spirit, so are the Cameron Road restaurants Costa del Sol and Antojitos Hondureños. I covered the pupusas, plantains and yuca of Costa del Sol’s Salvadorian menu last week. Today I’ll talk about the baleadas of Honduras, and how Antojitos Hondureños is a big player in the taco game — it just plays the game by a different name.
The taco: Baleada Especiale
You can call it a Quarter Pounder or a Royale With Cheese. Either way, it’s a cheeseburger. And so it is with the baleada, a thick flour tortilla folded over refried beans and cheese. A taco by any other name. (Conversely, “tacos” here are rolled and fried like flautas.) But it’s the Six Million Dollar Man of tacos — bigger, stronger faster — reimagined on an 8-inch handmade flour tortilla. It’s built with dense, grainy, mashed red beans, a dusting of funky white cheese and cream as thick as mayonnaise. The Especiale adds a few bits of chewy fried pork and sliced avocado, but they get lost in that big flour tortilla like BBs in a boxcar. But it’s still a bargain bin of food and culinary culture for $2.50.
 Sencilla is better: Simple, that is. In Honduras, the everyday baleada is satisfied just being filled with beans and cheese. You will be, too. ($2)
 Tortillas: These big, fluffly, toasted, handmade flour tortillas taste like yeasty country biscuits. Some of Austin’s best, no matter the name or what’s inside.
 Salsa: There’s a screwtop jug of sweet and tart pickled pink onions and carrots with red plastic tongs at every table. There’s Valentina hot sauce from Mexico, or better yet, Olanchano from Honduras, a kinder and gentler Tabasco sauce.
 One more dish: Curiosity drove me to try stewed chicken with green bananas. Between the dull potatoes, chalky boiled bananas and undercooked white rice, the starch balance on this plate makes about as much sense as American Southern cooking. Except that the chicken doesn’t make up for it the way ours does. The boiled leg was bloody red at the bone, and the chopped breast was pale and stiff, swimming in a vague paprika-style gravy. There’s a fried variation, with breaded chicken and fried banana. Next time. ($7.99)
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)