500 Tacos: Hecho en Mexico

 
 
A taco a day for 2015 — and then some
 
Hecho en Mexico
6001 W. William Cannon Drive, Suite 301 (map), 512-301-0060, www.hechoenmexico-restaurant.com
Hours: 9am-10pm daily. Breakfast until 11am Mon-Sat, until 2pm Sun.
 
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 04.13.15
 
Just as they do with French cooking, sauces help define interior Mexican food. To that end, Hecho en Mexico specializes in mole sauces, built from nuts, seeds, spices and secrets. But mole makes for a messy taco, and so another interior specialty — cochinita pibil — gets the DIY taco treatment. Order the plate, get a side of tortillas, and get to work.
 
The taco: Cochinita pibil
It’s a pleasant departure to find a cochinita pibil that draws so much of its flavor from its loamy banana leaf cocoon instead of leaning heavily on the sour twang of achiote. It’s  present, but first you’ll get the warm lushness of the lean, stew-cut pork shoulder and the earthy leaf, which is wrapped in careful ribbons and tied off like a vintage birthday present. Add pickled onions liberally for a bracing acidic, sour crunch. ($9 with rice and beans from 11-3 Mon-Sat; $15 at dinner)
 
 
 Tacotlan: That’s what they call the breakfast taco menu — Tacotlan — in place from 9-11 Mon-Sat, until 2pm Sun. The Margarita is a Mexican flag rendition of migas, with tomatoes, onions, white cheese and cilantro ($1.75). Wave that flag to celebrate the restaurant’s housemade tortillas, fried and scrambled into the mix for a crunchy counterpoint to the eggs. Their al pastor plays more like carnitas, or even guisado de puerco, with shredded meat in a wet guajillo-citrus braise with cooked pineapple ($2.50).
 Tortillas: Hecho en Mexico means hecho a mano here. Made by hand, as their corn tortillas are, with a finish as supple as a leather jacket and low-building corn flavor. Three of them will set you back $1.75, which seems high even for handmade. Flour tortillas are storebought. 
 Salsa: The house salsa is a blended red with the mild, layered flavors of tomato, peppers and the skins of dried chiles. There’s a thick habanero salsa available on request, so full of vegetal sunshine and sweetness that you’ll forgive its fiery temper.
-----------------------------------------------
The 500 Tacos Project
 
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)