500 Tacos: Bill Miller Bar-B-Q
An Austin taco a day for 2015 — and then some
Bill Miller Bar-B-Q
Hours: 6am-8:30pm Mon-Wed; 6am-9pm Thu-St; 8am-8:30pm Sun. Breakfast until 10:30am weekdays, noon weekends.
Also at: 709 E. Ben White Blvd. (map); 14718 Interstate 35 N. (map); 8700 U.S. 290 E. (map); 136 W. Slaughter Lane (map); 1646 Main St., Buda (map)
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 11.22.15
A barbecue breakfast taco is only as good as the barbecue that goes into it, and that puts Bill Miller Bar-B-Q at a disadvantage. Because judged on its own, this isn’t good barbecue, more like steamed cafeteria “BBQ” trucked in from San Antonio, which it is. But Bill Miller has never been a showboat, just a place to get brisket and fried chicken on a blue-collar budget, and breakfast here lands firmly in that same feed-barn zone.
The taco: Brisket and egg
With sliced brisket as red and brown as a Central Texas sunburn, there’s a redemption song in here somewhere, until the promise of bark becomes the crusted reality of dried beef with the taste of yesterday. They fight the good fight of quantity versus quality, but no amount of fat, lean and scrambled eggs can make up for throwing good money after bad barbecue. ($3.49)
► Tortillas: Like almost everything in the restaurant, flour and corn tortillas are made in the company’s San Antonio commissary. The toasted flour tortillas are tough as dusty hardtack, but the corn tortilla has a big grainy cornbread flavor and surprising flexibility.
► Sausage and potatoes: The wasting, acrid dryness that afflicts the brisket goes double for the link sausage sliced into this taco, with textures ranging from lava rock to slightly greasier lava rock. But Bill Miller does a good job with potatoes in the browned state between mashers and homefries. ($2.39)
► Cowboy Breakfast: I’m a sucker for biscuits and gravy. But after paying $3.49 for a salty, disintegrating dinner roll with grade-school gravy glue and pale, flabby ham, I just feel like a sucker.
► Salsa: A condiment bar in the center of the sprawling dining room has fresh pico de gallo, herb-vinegar onions and pickle chips. The friendly counter staff will ladle out some of Bill Miller’s simmering, ketchup-style barbecue sauce. You’ll need it to cover your disappointment.
► Which part of © don’t you understand?: As I was paying, I looked down to see my copyrighted photo on the restaurant’s point-of-scale screen. Too bad it doesn’t come with a link that shows how disappointed you’ll be with the barbecue you just ordered.
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)