500 Tacos: Gordo’s Tortas

An Austin taco a day for 2015 — and then some
Gordo’s Tortas
9601 U.S. 290 W., Austin (map), 512-507-2602. Hours: 7am-3pm Mon-Thu; 7am-4pm Fri-Sun
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 12.09.15
Anytime I get to indulge my twin obsessions of barbecue and tacos is a good time, but Gordo’s turns the union of the two into an even better time. And it’s worth the time it takes to drive out 290 West on the way to Dripping Springs to get here, to breathe the fog of a frosty morning at a picnic table. Ramiro “Gordo” Gonzalez, along with his father Ramiro Sr. and mom Patricia, has been turning brisket and pulled pork into sandwiches, burritos and tacos on this lot for 12 years now. On the weekends, he’ll throw on some pork ribs and sell brisket and pork by the pound as well. But breakfast is the magic hour, an hour that lasts all morning and afternoon, an hour when the smoke-fed simplicity of barbecue meets the taco’s sense of style.
The taco: Pulled pork
They sell three sizes of tortillas here. They call them burritos, but the smallest of them is a taco by any other name, stuffed so full that I don’t even care what you call it. The best of the breakfast tacos here starts with freshly scrambled eggs with salt and pepper, an appropriately neutral canvas for pulled pork with coraled degrees of size, texture and color with an integrated and invisible mop-sauce sweetness and smoke from post oak and mesquite that lingers like a campfire song. Finish the project with chopped fresh jalapeños to brighten things up, and you’ve got one of the best breakfast tacos in this series, at a value price of $3.50.
 Brisket: My predilection for fatty brisket got the better of me on a taco with brisket, eggs and potatoes. I’m so accustomed to the fatcap and brickle of molten pit brisket that lean brisket seems too dry in the best of circumstances. But even this lean brisket conveys sunset colors and high, bright smoke on a taco overflowing with fresh eggs and skillet potatoes. ($3.50)
 Breakfast without barbecue: Well that’s really no breakfast at all, is it? But Gordo’s will build any four-ingredient breakfast taco you’d like for just $2.50. Eggs, bacon, chorizo, beans, jalapeños, cheese, ham, potatoes and so on. My choice? Hot chorizo with the right amount of grease with eggs, chopped jalapeños and whole pinto beans. Barbecue beans. Because go back to the first line of this paragraph. ($2.50)
 Tortillas: Storebought flour tortillas, doing the best they can to hold things together, hoping you’ll stop calling them “burritos.” (Gordo said he knows they’re really tacos; he’s just calling them burritos because that’s what the locals call them.)
 Salsa: Gordo’s doesn’t punish you with heat from its bright and fresh tomato and tomatillo sauces. The better to taste its sweet vinegar barbecue sauce with a spice pantry of peppered flavors.
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)