500 Tacos: El Michoacano

A taco a day for 2015 — and then some
El Michoacano
2701 Texas 71 E., Del Valle (map), 512-389-3244
Hours: 5:30am-9:30pm Mon-Wed; 5:30am-10pm Thu-Sat; 6:30am-9:30pm Sun
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 07.17.15
For 20 years, El Michoacano has been feeding passengers of the dawn and beyond out by the airport. But you have to be looking for this unassuming orange brick building to find it. Just look for the cars parked out front, even before the sun rises. Not in the mood for breakfast? No worries. The whole menu — enchiladas, fajitas, caldos, mariscos, migas and all the tacos — is served all day long.
The taco: Chicharron
Three things make this pigskin taco special: Pork rinds stewed soft and lush but still crispy at the core, a green sauce with bright, lingering heat and a thick, handmade corn tortilla. ($2)
 Tortillas: Handmade corn and flour tortillas are more than half the reason El Michoacana makes tacos worth writing about. The corn has a texture like a rolled-out cross between bolillo and cornbread, strong enough to go single layer. The flour shimmers with lard, toasted on the grill to make crisp sunspots.
 Barbacoa: There’s something about the day’s first barbacoa, fresh from the steamer and dressed with cool pico on a hot flour tortilla. You might argue that head meat is better after some graceful aging, but I appreciate the clean luster of the fatty meat just after dawn. ($2.50)
 Afterburners: Not even homemade flour can rescue steak and eggs left too long in their own charred aftermath on the grill. Same for pork al pastor, grilled hard and barren of the adobo spice or marinade that draws me to pastor in the first place. ($2 each)
 Salsa: The basic red sauce is a fresh chop of tomatillo and dried chiles with medium heat. On request, they’ll bring out a warm and spicy tomatillo verde used for sauces in the kitchen.
 Programming note: Basic breakfast tacos are $1.50 for two items, including very good beans and cheese on fresh flour.
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)