500 Tacos: Austin Daily Press
An Austin taco a day for 2015 — and then some
Austin Daily Press
Hours: 11am-11pm Sun-Thu; 11am-midnight Fri-Sat
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 12.17.15
The taco’s will to power is so undeniable that it will sandwich itself into our most safe and comfortable foods. For argument’s sake, we’ll say ... sandwiches. I didn’t know Austin Daily Press even sold tacos until they showed up on the brand-new Austin extension of Amazon Prime Now’s restaurant delivery service. ADP will turn its tortas and ciabatta sandwiches — from the roasted pork Cuban to the Cajun deli Who Dat — into a pair of tacos on corn tortillas. Not all the translations sound truly translatable, but places like Austin Daily Press and the Republic of Sandwich give me faith that the tortilla’s circular logic is perfectly compatible with sandwich math.
The taco: The Lucy
Carnitas, al pastor, guisado de puerco. Pork lies at the core of so many great tacos, and Austin Daily Press puts it to good use on the Lucy. The taco starts with aromatic braised pork with lemongrass and builds like a banh mi from there, with spicy pickles, shredded carrots, fresh mint and slivers of crisp ginger. I worried at first that this and all the other tacos would come out like sandwich wraps, or like those tortillas you roll and cut into circles for your kid’s lunch. But the elements are broken down to taco scale: sliced, chopped and shredded for an integrated foldover. That execution makes the elegant, layered and complex Lucy one of the best fusion tacos in this series. ($8.50 for two; available a la carte)
► The Edward (above): When ADP says “edamame fritter,” they don’t mean soybean hushpuppies. These crunchy mahogany nuggets hold a mince of edamame, garlic and onion, with flavors amplified by a thick peanut ginger sauce, full leaves of cilantro and mint and a toss of onions and sweet pickled peppers. ($6.50 for two; available solo)
► Pineapple Express (below left): Like an action movie trailer, this taco gives away the best part in 15 seconds: a sweet chutney of pineapple and ginger. It works hard to animate a taco locked in salty textural detente by cubes of chicken and ham, a detente mediated by spicy ranch and shredded cheese. ($7.50 for two; available solo)
► Breakfast tacos: A cordial staffer said bacon is one of their big things here. So true. It’s crumbled into crunchy sunset bits like pork toffee bark with fresh scrambled eggs and a slice of good cheddar cheese. ($5 for two; available solo)
► Tortillas: That same staffer said ADP’s been doing tacos for about a year and a half, and said they’d contemplated offering gluten-free bread before landing instead on the idea of corn tortillas. A lightbulb moment, executed with good factory corn tortillas — doubled up, because you can’t hold an idea this big in just one tortilla.
► Salsa: ADP’s red salsa is as thick and sweet as a Mexican twist on Italian giardiniera.
► Something on the side: ADP outperforms its mission on two additional fronts. First with fat jalapeño cornbread hushpuppies with a delicate golden shell over a soft, steamy interior spiked with freshly chopped jalapeños ($3 for 4). And again with freshly squeezed lemonade that delivers more pulpy citrus bite than sugar, and a brace of lavender if you catch it on special ($3).
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)