500 Tacos: JR’s Tacos

An Austin taco a day for 2015 — and then some
JR’s Tacos
1921 Cedar Bend Drive, inside the Exxon station, Austin (map), 512-831-5554, website
Hours: 6:30am-9pm Mon-Fri; 8am-3pm Sat
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 09.26.15
If I ran a gas-station taqueria, I might not put the motor oil, socks and toilet plungers right next to the ordering window. But at least there are places to sit, strong AC and good craft-beer bombers to take home. These tacos are made to order, filling and reasonably priced, even if their style and spice seem toned down to fit the high-traffic diversity of the setting.
The taco: Campechanos
Add some sugar to the chorizo in this campechanos and it’d taste like a cinnamon roll. Not a complaint, just an observation. It’s lean and mild sausage, crumbled into chewy little nuggets of flattop-grilled steak with salt and pepper and grilled onions. Fairly domesticated by taqueria standards, tamed even further by avocado, lettuce and tomato. ($2.50)
 Al pastor: If I can’t tell whether your al pastor is pork or chicken, we’re never going to agree on al pastor. Too mealy, too mild, too watered-down. ($2.50)
 Fajitas: To its credit, JR’s uses different beef for fajitas than it does for the bistec in the campechanos. It’s a little fattier and long-fibered, with a harder sear that still falls short of anything like grilled flavor. But it’s generously packed into a warm flour tortilla with onions, peppers, lettuce and tomato for $2.50.
 Barbacoa: Sloppier, more mild and wetter than I like, JR’s barbacoa is real cheek meat at least, dressed simply with onions and cilantro ($2.50)
 It’s what’s for breakfast: JR’s passes the test of potatoes and eggs with freshly scrambled eggs and big pieces of soft, hot potatoes. ($1.69; breakfast is served all day)
 Tortillas: Flour and doubled-up white corn tortillas from a bag, warmed on the flat-top.
 Salsa: A bright, mild tomato and pepper salsa fresca suits the homogenized character of the tacos. There’s also a familiar taco-stand creamy jalapeno, but half its heat comes from a caustic dose of salt.
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)