500 Tacos: Jasmine’s Mexican Restaurant #2

An Austin taco a day for 2015 — and then some
Jasmine’s Mexican Restaurant #2
6801 Airport Blvd., Austin (map), 512-520-5832
Hours: 7am-3pm Mon-Sat. Also at: 2463 Texas 71 E., Del Valle (map)
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 11.02.15
I’ve eaten tacos in the Jasmine’s building, in another life when it was called Juanita’s. The furniture’s the same, spread across a tiled dining room the size of a small-town banquet hall. Just like before, it’s mostly empty, even at lunch hour, and they’ve eliminated dinner hours altogether. But gone is the dull torpor of the old place, replaced by upbeat music, a cheerful staff, handmade corn tortillas and better tacos.
The taco: Barbacoa
Good barbacoa should celebrate the untidy enterprise of pulling roasted beef from the head of the beast. Jasmine’s joins the party with fatty floes of cheek meat and roasted Yahtzee dice of peeled tongue. The result is the deep, almost musky beef bouquet you don’t get from the more picturesque cuts. Order this one on handmade corn with pico de gallo. (2.25)
 Lunch special: Jasmine’s has clearly retooled to accommodate a lunch audience. At the heart of that is an 11-3 weekday plate-lunch special that includes rice, beans and tea for $6.25. Enchiladas, tacos, carne guisada, a taco salad, combos. The No. 4 combo gets my vote, subbing a tiny guacamole salad and basic Velveeta queso for rice and beans. They share the plate with a sturdy, house-fried corn taco shell stuffed with wet, salty picadillo, dressed with chopped lettuce, tomato and American cheese. A cheese enchilada rounds out the combo, rolled from Jasmine’s fresh corn tortillas, filled with more American cheese and mild chili gravy for a thoroughly  whitewashed Tex-Mex lunch.
 Fajitas and al pastor: As well-executed as the barbacoa is, I expected better beef fajitas than these dry, pre-jerky beef strips. Al pastor goes the other way, with inedible folds of collagenous fat dodging around cuts of meat with the bland, salty taste and texture of yesterday’s porkchop. ($2.25 each)
 For breakfast: What better afterlife for handmade corn tortillas than getting fried and tossed into a migas taco? It’s a solid effort, with fresh pico folded into hard scrambled eggs and American cheese ($1.69). Jasmine’s serves breakfast all day, plates and tacos included. Before 11 on weekdays, breakfast tacos run three for $3.99. They’re $1.69 after that.
 Tortillas: Jasmine’s makes its own corn tortillas, light on corn flavor but big on agility and strength to hold their own. Flour tortillas are storebought, then toasted on the grill.
 Salsa: A tangy tomato red, chunky with jalapeños and onions, comes with free chips. By request, they’ll bring a first-class chop of tomatillos with onions, jalapeño and cilantro as fresh and tangy as tableside salsa verde.
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)