500 Tacos: El Chilito | Manor Road

A taco a day for 2015 — and then some
El Chilito | Manor Road
2219 Manor Road (map), 512-382-3797, www.elchilito.com. Also at 1623 E. 7th St., 512-334-9660.
Hours: 7am-10pm Mon-Fri, 8am-10pm Sat, 8am-9pm Sun
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 03.19.15
In a much cooler “Back to the Future,” El Chilito would have been Michael J. Fox’s malt shop. With walkup ordering and an awning in all the colors of the Mexican rainbow, this little brother to El Chile combines fast food’s streamlined need for speed with the craftier food demanded by Austin’s own ironic vintage time travelers.
Taco A: Puffy taco with beef
This puffy taco backs up the novelty of its simultaneously crunchy and fluffy fried masa shell with ground beef simmered in onion, tomatoes and potatoes, like a hamburger and fries in taco form. ($3.50)
Taco B: Pollo asado
The downfall of most roasted taqueria chicken is the absence of anything like the flavor of roasted meat. El Chilito fixes that with chopped chicken bearing the char and crust and flavor only the grill can bring, helped along by the dusky spice of an achiote marinade. All it has is grilled onions to keep it company, but there’s a lot of chicken here — and a lot to like about it. ($3.50)
Taco C: Jamon a la Mex
If we had some ham, we could have ham and eggs, if we had some eggs. We can have it all, with pico on a steaming flour tortilla with this fortifying breakfast taco. ($3.50)
 Shrimpleton: Crisp cornmeal breading, shrimp, coleslaw dressed with Valentina hot sauce. This should be an El Chilito all-star, except that none of those elements has a strong solo flavor game, and the taco’s a $4 flat spot in the roster.
 Tortillas: Not handmade, but a thicker style of flour and yellow corn from the El Milagro factory.
 Salsa: Just one, but a good one. A thick, auburn-colored salsa with medium heat and big, roasty flavor.
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)