500 Tacos: Dos Chivos

 
 
A taco a day for 2015 — and then some
 
Dos Chivos
11620 Ranch Road 620 N. (map), 512-250-1600, www.doschivos.com
Hours: 11am-9:30pm Mon-Thu; 11am-10:30pm Fri; 10:30am-10:30pm Sat; 10:30am-9:30pm Sun
 
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 07.16.15
 
Dos Chivos is the third branch of the expanding restaurant family tree planted by Tony Ciola and Creed Ford IV, whose Tc4 & Co. restaurant group includes the solid Tony C’s Coal-Fired Pizza and the League Kitchen & Tavern. With its tiled roof, fieldstone walls, exposed wooden beams, Gipsy Kings soundtrack and bright mural over the open kitchen, the group’s Cedar Park foray into Mexican food could be the clubhouse of a faux-Med subdivision, where people need a side of franchise-ready familiarity to go with their tacos. For the rest of us, we’re secure knowing that chef Mizael Saucedo’s in the house, because we know his work from Bess Bistro and Urban at the Westin Domain.
 
Taco A: El Ranchero
In a city full of pork that wears the al pastor label like cartoon wax lips, I’ll take accidental al pastor anyday. It’s all here in the Ranchero: the pickled pink onions, the grilled pineapple and the roasted pork with lush red spice. Or you could make the case for a wicked cochinita pibil. On a fresh corn tortilla, this is a street food superhero disguised in khakis and a polo shirt.  ($9.99 for a plate with two tacos, rice and beans)
 
 
Taco B: El Zocalo
This is the best picadillo of the series so far, layered with chiles and onion, simmered to its dense, fatty, salty essence. In a dress of corn and crushed pepper, I taste lime and cotija cheese as well, amplified by a fresh corn tortilla. ($9.99/plate)
 
 Surf: Just as I’m losing faith in fish tacos, El Mar comes along with seared redfish in thick pieces on a corn tortilla with fresh julienned bundles of squash, zucchini and carrot and a tangy aioli. The fish is cooked a shade too hard, but here on the mean suburban streets, we understand. ($10.99/plate)
 Turf: I’ve had good steak tacos in this series, but few dressed as well as El Mero Mero, glazed with Chihuahua cheese and topped with guacamole and grilled peppers and onions. And the steak? I see the gradient pink of medium-rare under a nice grilled sear. Puts the “steak” in steak taco. ($10.99/plate)
 Tortillas: Dos Chivos makes its own corn and flour tortillas, the making of which stalled a weekday lunch by 20 minutes. Thick and ragged but tenderhearted, the corn was worth the wait. The flour tortillas take the handmade tendency toward greasy transparency a shade too far.
 
 
 Rice and beans: There’s bacon in the charro beans and a toss of peas, carrots and corn in the rice, making both of them better than side players.
 Salsa: The table sauce is a cooked, jar-style chunky red. It’s mild and familiar, served with tortilla chips dusted with seasoned salt. Want the real stuff? Ask for a little molcajete of the “kitchen sauce,” a rough chop of tomatillo, chipotle, onion and whatever’s setting my mouth on fire right now. I can cool it off with this ridiculously overpriced $4.50 honeydew agua fresca. Or for a few bucks more, I could’ve had a margarita.
 Order what’s on the sign: Looking for goat at Two Goats? It’s available braised and served on the bone Fridays and Saturdays.
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The 500 Tacos Project
 
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)