500 Tacos: Dos Batos
An Austin taco a day for 2015 — and then some
Hours: 11am-9pm Sun-Thu; 11am-10pm Fri-Sat
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 09.28.15
Even before Walmart moved in and rescued what was left of the retail infrastructure around the old Northcross Mall, Dos Batos rolled the dice and opened across the parking lot. They’ve survived for five years with beef and chicken tacos cooked over a wood fire like at one of those pollo al carbon joints. Except Dos Batos works in an environment as austere as a shopping mall storeroom, decorated with half-walls of stacked cord-wood and painted with samurai and bandido archetypes like the baby’s room at Sergio Leone and Akira Kurosawa’s house. The murals are just for show; the wood’s another story. It’s on the ground, in the air, in your hair and where it counts: your food.
The taco: Pirata Hybrid
The taco menu’s simple at Dos Batos: Wood-grilled Angus sirloin, chicken or vegetables with avocado and cheese. A taqueria might call one of these a “gringa,” a kind of taco-quesadilla hybrid. Speaking of hybrids, the best taco to get at Dos Batos is a sirloin “Pirata” taco fused with the veggie “Ostin” taco of bell peppers, onions and mushrooms. Dos Batos calls it the Hybrid. The beef by itself — even with the binding white cheese and avocado slice — would be a stark, dry and underprovisioned experience at almost $5. The grilled vegetables give it layers of flavor, some juice and a little sweetness. A solid taco, at its best on a fresh flour tortilla. ($4.65)
► Pollo hybrid: The same criticisms and praise that apply to the Pirata apply to the Dos Batos fusion of chicken and vegetables, with extra points for keeping the curls and cubes of white-meat pollo moist beneath the charcoal sear. ($4.65)
► Make it a combo: You can add a drink (hint: fresh cane-sugar limeade) and a half-pint bowl of ham-fortified charro beans for just $2.95. Also, there’s a price break on tacos when you order two ($8.80) or three ($12.95).
► Tortillas: Dos Batos makes its own leathery, strong flour and thin but flaky and sturdy corn tortillas.
► Salsa: There’s a cream-style jalapeño salsa verde in a squeeze bottle, but ask for the red salsa, served as warm and tomato-rich as a Monterrey marinara.
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)