500 Tacos: Elaine’s Pork & Pie

 
 
A taco a day for 2015 — and then some
 
Elaine’s Pork & Pie
2113 Manor Road (map), 512-494-1464, www.elainesporkandpie.com
Hours: 11:15am-9:30pm Tue-Thu; 11:15am-10pm Fri; 10am-10pm Sat; 10am-9:30pm Sun
 
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 07.26.15
 
Eastside Cafe made its name with garden-fresh cooking from a gingerbread bungalow on Manor Road. The restaurant’s little sister, Elaine’s Pork & Pie, lives in what would be the carriage house of the main estate, making a name of its own with a small, curated menu of ... well ... pork and pie. But also fresh surprises: frozen lemonade, a coffee bar, lentil soup, and in a refreshing lighter touch for this series, tacos. 
 
The taco: Pulled pork
Putting “pork” after your name is both a declaration and a promise if you’re doing it right. And Elaine’s is doing it right, with long, lush strands of roasted pork lightly peppered for a taste that bounces off the fresh dress of lettuce, shredded jack cheese and pico de gallo with nuggets of golden bell pepper, presented in a toasted golden suitcase of a corn tortilla. ($1.75)
 
 ... and pie: Elaine’s cultivates a genteel Southern charm with petite pies baked next door, including chocolate silk, strawberry cream cheese, lime custard, ancho chile fudge and this one: a firm, sweet, rich bourbon buttermilk pie with sugar and a touch of salt in a sticky, crunchy, pastry-style crust. ($2.95)
 
 
 Tortillas: The pulled pork taco is built on a simple premade crispy shell of yellow corn that pulls like aging parchment rather than crackling like glass.
 Salsa: Bright fresh, balanced salsa fresca with tomato, pepper, onions and cilantro.
 Soup: Did I get a cup of lentil soup just to get the warm jalapeño cornbread muffin, or was it the other way around? Either way, it’s a good deal at $2.95 for a robust stock of tomato, carrot and onion with lentils like pearls in a savory bubble tea.
 Frozen lemonade: Like it or not, taco’s friend tequila has dulled our appreciation of frozen citrus, because so many margaritas are polluted with citric acid and corn syrup. Elaine’s frozen lemonade is made of juice and joy whirled velvet smooth, non-alcoholic but intoxicating nevertheless. A friendly counter employee suggested a squeeze of raspberry puree to balance the lemonade’s sharp tartness. It worked. What she didn’t warn me about? That it would taste too good to stop before brain freeze set in. ($1.75)
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The 500 Tacos Project
 
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)