500 Tacos: El Rinconcito Del Sabor

A taco a day for 2015 — and then some
El Rinconcito Del Sabor
7213 Cameron Road (map), 512-458-1439. Hours: 7am-10pm daily
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 06.16.15
The first time I came to this spot in 2009, the place was called Luvianos, not nearly as bright and festive as the purple, pink, orange and bedazzled  El Rinconcito that lives here now. The old spot was a minimalist, hard-core taqueria, among the first places I ever tried barbacoa, and that night the meat flew past gamey to a cadaverous place, and I couldn’t wait to get out of there. At El Rinconcito, the pendulum swings the other way, with a hammock vibe and food so tame and safe you’ll crave a little danger before it’s over.
The taco: Al pastor
On Tuesdays, the al pastor plate at El Rinconcito is just $5.99. The beauty of a plate lunch is the do-it-yourself aesthetic, and my al pastor taco gets a layer of refried beans, a layer of rice, a generous payload of mild orange pork glistening with sautéed onions, some pico de gallo and a shot of guacamole on double corn tortillas. The rice and beans are both too wet, the pico’s gone soft and the pork needs a visit to the spice cabinet. But together, they offer comfort, quantity and respectable value.
 Crunch time: A freshly fried shell can sweeten the sales pitch for a crispy taco, but it takes good picadillo to seal the deal. Unfortunately, this ground beef is as underseasoned as most everything here. ($1.99)
 Barbacoa: There’s the cohesive fat, the short fibers and dense black color of barbacoa in this taco, but it’s as bland as a heartland Sunday roast. ($2.59)
 Tortillas: Neither the storebought flour nor the commercial white corn tortillas get any texture or color in the kitchen. They could use both.
 Salsa: The red table salsa is blended as smooth as scorched-earth oil paint, and it’s just as hot. A jalapeño salsa verde as rich as squeeze-tube guacamole conveys a slow-building heat but brings big, bright verdant flavors with it.
 Programming note: El Rinconcito serves a full line of Mexican and American breakfast standards, including tacos, but breakfast service stops at 11 a.m.
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)