500 Tacos: Cilantro’s
A taco a day for 2015 — and then some
1025 W. Stassney Lane #103 (map), 512-707-1207
Hours: 6am-8pm Mon-Wed; 6am-6pm Thu; 6am-8pm Fri; 6am-6pm Sat; 8am-3pm Sun
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 08.06.15
From 7 to 11 a.m. on weekdays, breakfast tacos are just 99 cents at Cilantro’s, which is not in a trailer or a van or a roadside cart, but rather a quiet, clean restaurant with comfortable booths, AC and real mom-and-pop charm. They’re just $1.25 after 11. But there’s so much to explore beyond breakfast.
Taco A: Pork adobado
“Adobado” simply means marinated. Pork, in this case, shredded to let the red chile adobo braise work its way through for flavor and lush hydration. It’s a nice departure from the arid, grilled al pastor style so common in this series. Adobado is uncommon, and in this case, uncommonly good, dressed with crisp pico de gallo on a fresh flour tortilla. ($2)
Taco B: Eggs, beans and rice
You’re worth an extra quarter, right? Splurge and add mild Mexican rice to your 99-cent bean-and-egg breakfast taco. The rice holds the hard-scrambled eggs and grainy rice in place with salty agility. ($1.24 before 11; $1.49 after)
► Tortillas: The common element shared by all the best tacos at Cilantro’s? Handmade flour tortillas, dusty and warm and fluffy as a compressed country biscuit, toasted on the grill. Doubled-up corn tortillas come from a bag.
► Fajitas a la Mexicana: Think of the onions, jalapeños and tomatoes that make up fresh pico de gallo. Now picture them cut in long strips and grilled with beef fajitas. Sounds good, right? It would be, if the fajitas brought the same fresh, bouncy enthusiasm. ($2.25)
► Carne guisada: If only the fajitas had lush brown gravy like this. And the roast beef has the soft, fatty fiber to take full advantage. ($2)
► Migas: Pico de gallo gets another workout, scrambled into eggs with crisp corn tortilla pieces and melted cheddar for a solid, respectable migas taco. ($1.75)
► Salsa: Cilantro’s puts its name where its red sauce is, packing the herb like a Colorado frat party into a bowl with a fresh chop of tomato, onions and jalapeños. The loose tomatillo-jalapeño verde has a sharp edge, courtesy of tiny habanero threads laced throughout.
► Limonada: Not “lemonade,” but limeade, if you must. Just freshly squeezed limes, sugar and ice for $1.75. Simple and refreshing.
► One more thing: With the pride of a creator, my server Elizabeth Aviles — whose family owns the restaurant and whose husband Bogar Rivera cooked the food in this report — directed me to the flan she makes herself fresh daily. It bears the caramel and cream flavor density of a cheesecake with the rounded velvet cushion of pudding or custard, with a candy-shop finish of translucent caramel syrup. A dessert that would be at home on any white tablecloth at twice the price. ($2.99)
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)