500 Tacos: El Nuevo Mexico

 
 
A taco a day for 2015 — and then some
 
El Nuevo Mexico
911 W. Anderson Lane, Suite 120 (map), 512-458-5454, www.elnuevomexicotexmex.com
Hours: 8am-9pm Mon-Sat; 8am-8pm Sun
Also at: 201 Childers Drive, Suite 101, in Bastrop (map), 512-321-1800
 
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 05.19.15
 
Corona banners in the front, a Modelo piñata in the corner, a life-size cutout of the Most Interesting Man in the World to greet you. El Nuevo Mexico is that kind of place, Tex-Mex and beer promos without pretension in a clean, curving strip-mall dining room with wood blinds, spotless Saltillo floors and a healthy ratio of customers in white work trucks.
 
The taco: Barbacoa
Barbacoa is the most enigmatic of the taco building blocks. For almost any other meat, we’d toss out the fatty, stringy pieces, the blobs and the overdone bits. But those are the best parts of barbacoa, and they’re here in force, with cilantro cooked in and sprinkled on top, lending its own enigmatic charm. ($2.50)
 
 
 Migas and al pastor: The shop uses handmade fried corn tortillas for the chips that give this migas taco the personality behind an already respectable scramble of pico and eggs ($1.95 before 11 a.m., $2.45 after). On a fresh flour tortilla, this is a top-tier breakfast taco — and they serve breakfast all day. El Nuevo’s al pastor is more like diced picnic shoulder with an adobo dusting, served so wet it soaked through the tortilla ($2.50).
 Bistec: I like grilled steak on a fresh flour tortilla. Just not this one, with beef gone soft and bland and not enough grilled onions and bell pepper to make up for it. ($2.75)
 Tortillas: Both corn and flour tortillas are made in-house. Too fluffy and light for its own good, the corn fell apart at the bend of an al pastor taco. The flour is a tougher customer, with a chalky leatherette hide that stays flexible even when it’s toasted. It adds some starchy heft to weaker players like a taco full of runny refritos and processed American cheese ($1.75 before 11 a.m., $2.25 after).
 Salsa: The chopped salsa fresca had started to oxidize rusty brown, with an off taste to match. A cool and tart tomatillo green took over from there, with sharp acid and a flash of heat.
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The 500 Tacos Project
 
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)