500 Tacos: Curra’s Grill
A taco a day for 2015 — and then some
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 05.12.15
Curra’s was the last place I visited as the American-Statesman’s restaurant critic in 2011. I toasted the final episode of my “30-Day Brain Freeze” with an avocado margarita, a rich and velveteen smoothie with a tequila sting to take the edge off the melancholy. Today I’m having another, this time to toast the 132-day mark of a much more ambitious project for Fed Man Walking: 500 Tacos.
Taco A: Al pastor
Shaved from the rotisserie and sauteéd with pineapple and onion, this meaty al pastor brings the pork’s rangy flavor to the front over a light adobo spice, with tropical accents and cilantro’s sour herbal counterpunch. It’s good on a white corn tortilla, but even more memorable on Curra’s red corn tortillas. ($8.99 for two with rice, beans and guacamole; $3.75 a la carte)
Taco B: Carnitas
This is just a plain mix of chunky and shredded pork shoulder, slow-cooked with cola, milk and orange juice. An unlikely triad, but it leaves behind the sugars of each to caramelize when the meat is given a quick second sear. The result is tender meat with a few crispy bits and concentrated sweetness, served with a warm salsa bearing the slick, tart gloss of tomatillo for acidic balance. ($8.99 for two with rice, beans and guacamole; $3.75 a la carte)
► Tortillas: Curra’s makes its own corn tortillas, both the red and the white. The white has a thin, warm tensile strength with a light toast and invisble flavor. The dusky orange-red adds more than spectacle. It brings a low, toasted chile growl to the table. Flour tortillas are storebought.
► Salsa: The basic tomato red table salsa has a mild chili powder afterglow. But the salsa show at Curra’s begins and ends with the sampler ($2.49 with chips), a calico plate of a dozen sauces, moles and salsas. It’s charming — in a handknitted Christmas sweater kind of way — but it’s more for show than utility, with just a schmear of each sauce, and me without my dustpan-shaped chips. The highlights: chocolatey brown mole, warm and tangy tomatillo and a thin orange sauce like smoky, unsweetened marmalade.
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)