500 Tacos: Changos Taqueria

A taco a day for 2015 — and then some
Changos Taqueria
3023 Guadalupe St. (map), 512-480-8226, www.changos.com. Hours: 9am-9pm daily
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 04.05.15
Posting up on the North Drag, Changos understands its transitory college audience. Heading toward UT, they need a breakfast taco and good coffee. Heading away, they need something to soak up whatever academia spills on them. Changos gets them coming and going, with migas and its own Anderson’s Coffee blend in the morning, a bracing spinach-and-pineapple agua fresca and al pastor from the trompo in the afternoon.
The taco: Al pastor
Any al pastor trimmed from the trompo gets a pass to the front of the line. But Changos’ pastor feels more like it just cut in line. Sliced from the vertical rotisserie, yes, but when? The spit stood empty at lunch, and the pastor from it was mealy and tired by the time it hit the tortilla. Imagine if brisket were cooked on a proper pit, then sliced hours before you ordered it. The nuclear half-lives of barbecue and al pastor alike start ticking away the second they’re sliced from the core. And no semi-tropical marinade can bring it back. ($2.75)
 The morning shift: Fluffy eggs, jack cheese, roasted salsa and a grilled flour tortilla isn’t a bad way to spend $1.80.
 Out to sea: When it’s fried, Changos’ “Del Mar” mahi mahi taco is reduced to generic protein beneath an overdone batter, smothered in slaw that surrenders its carrot-cabbage crunch to goopy sweet dressing. ($3.95)
 Tortillas: The shop presses corn tortillas to order, then cooks them in front of you. They come out like Ethiopian injera bread —spongy and pale, ready to scoop rather than hold steady. The storebought flour is grilled to a melanomic crisp.
 Salsa: The best of five salsas at Changos is a thick porridge of creamy tomatillo with mild chile heat, followed by a roasted chile red with onion and cilantro. I can’t get a handle on the aggressive orange stuff swimming with tomato skins, and a thin peppery red is my mother-in-law in a squeeze bottle: vinegar and passive-aggressive heat.
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)