500 Tacos: El Rincon

A taco a day for 2015 — and then some
El Rincon
812 Thurmond St. in the Omkar Food Mart lot (map), 512-992-6678. Hours: 6pm-2am Tue-Sun
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 07.30.15
In the land of the late-night taco, less is more. And at El Rincon, the menu’s more or less exactly that. Just nine tacos and nine kinds of meat, on handmade corn tortillas. Everything’s two bucks. And dressed like it’s worth twice that much.
The taco: Campechanos
Campechanos. The reliable traveling companions of chorizo and beef, right? El Rincon proves that it can be so much more, turning the dynamic duo into the three amigos with a handful of golden pork rind nuggets. They add a leavening porky balance to the deep red spicy chorizo and introduce crunch to the knobby, well-salted bits of grilled steak. The stunning earth-tone color contrast. The dress of cilantro, onions and queso fresco. The fresh avocado, radishes and cucumber. The handmade corn tortilla. No way this is a $2 taco. But it is, and it’s one of the best in this series, and certainly the campechanos leader just past the half-year mark.
 More tacos: El Rincon fries tiny tubes of tripas hard at the edges, with a little spring left in the center, where the fat and flavor collect. A bistec taco misses its campechano buddies, but that’s a fairly tall order; the steak by itself is salty and satisfying. Al pastor has a glimmer of achiote spice over nuggets of fried pork. All of them dressed with cilantro, onion, radish, queso fresco, avocado and cucumber, I’d place the same order again tomorrow. ($2 each)
 Tortillas: Once I saw the thick, grill-speckled, handmade corn tortillas from the order ahead of me, no way was I putting anything on storebought flour. Hot, fluffy, strong, with mellow corn flavor.
 Salsa: Here’s the course of treatment: Scorch your tongue with diablo-hot chile de arbol, then cauterize the wound with the unrelenting fire of jalapeño green. Cool it off with horchata that tastes the way Pottery Barn smells in November.
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)