500 Tacos: Art of Tacos
A taco a day for 2015 — and then some
Art of Tacos
75 Rainey St. (map), 512-666-8226, Facebook page. Hours: 11am-11pm Mon-Thu; 11am-3am Fri-Sat; 2pm-11pm Sun
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 06.21.15
Rainey Street is the “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” of Austin nightlife. If you have kids, you know the book: Give the mouse a cookie, he’ll want a glass of milk, then a straw, and so on until he bankrupts you with a college education. On Rainey Street, you’ll want tacos. And if the first place you go is closed because a construction scaffold fell on it (No Va; true story), you’ll want to hit the Art of Tacos trailer. And if the tables there are covered with filth, you’ll want a clean place to sit — like at Craft Pride. And if you go to Craft Pride, you’ll want a beer, and after five beers you’ll want doughnuts at Little Lucy’s and pretty soon you’ll want to call 777-7777 for jail release. But for now, the mouse will settle for tacos.
The taco: Al pastor
The cookie that gets the story going, this is the best of an unhappy trio at Art of Tacos, with dry pork shredded like sawdust and blasted with the spice that should have gone on the ground beef, heavy on chili powder flavors and light on anything like the adobo or achiote of classic al pastor marinades. The closest any of these three tacos comes to redemption is the choose-it-yourself dress of free extras, including cilantro, slivered jalapeño, chopped tomato, onion, shredded lettuce, and cheese. ($7.60 for two; $3.89 a la carte)
► If you give a man a taco: ... he’ll want two more. But not these two. The fajitas are stiff and unseasoned; the picadillo might as well be a chopped-up hamburger patty, uncooked at its core and barely cooked elsewhere, barren of even the simplest salt and pepper flavor. Dress liberally from the condiment list above. (Fajitas $7.83 for two; picadillo $7.37 for two; $3.89 each a la carte)
► Tortillas: Standard El Milagro white corn, doubled up and uncooked. The trailer was out of its storebought flour tortillas.
► Salsa: A mild red salsa tastes like denatured spaghetti sauce. If you get the $1.50 basket of chips with salsa, ask for the green, a thick and fiery cream-style green with a nice twang and sharp jalapeño heat on the finish.
► If you really need a late-night taco on Rainey Street: La Fantabulous/La Sirena is right across the street. And so much better.
The 500 Tacos Project
(ABOVE: Craft Pride — a bar specializing in Texas beer — is a Rainey Street neighbor of the Art of Tacos trailer. In addition to the Via 313 pizza trailer in its back courtyard, tha bar allows customers to bring in food from other vendors. Craft Pride's Best of Texas Flight includes 5-ounce pours from Live Oak, Real Ale, Revolver, Guadalupe and 512.)
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)