500 Tacos: Kerbey Lane Cafe

 
 
A taco a day for 2015 — and then some
 
Kerbey Lane Cafe
701 S. Capital of Texas Highway (map), 512-879-2810; six more locations at www.kerbeylanecafe.com
Westlake hours: 6am-10pm Sun-Thu; 6am-midnight(ish) Fri-Sat. Most other locations open 24 hours.
 
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 05.23.15
 
In these days of Mad Max and other cult classic remakes, I’d like to pitch a Kerbey Lane reboot. The franchise has become so inconsistent since its expansion from the original cottage cafe on the actual Kerbey Lane that only Charlize Theron can save it now.
 
The taco: Cajun Crispy Chicken
Kerbey Lane’s summertime Tomato Menu used to be cause for celebration, but the Cajun tacos from that menu are cause for consternation. They’re built from a stiff chicken breast divided between two tortillas, but not before it’s been cloaked in a soggy leatherette breading and drowned in sports-bar buffalo sauce. I’ve had better buffalo chicken from a drive-through, for a lot less and with better fries than these waxy, soggy, room-temperature things. They’re helped neither by a side of jalapeño remoulade that tastes like tartar sauce nor coleslaw with nothing but a sloppy off-color twang to suggest the blue cheese mentioned on the menu. ($10.95 with fries)
 
 
 Beyond BreakfastDome: Seasonals and specials come and go, but Kerbey Lane’s still a safe haven for a breakfast taco, right? Right? Wrong. Starting with the price — three ingredients for a nickel shy of $4 — it’s a primer on how to blow a breakfast blockbuster. Overcooked eggs, old sausage, potatoes pulled from overworked oil, stiff tortilla, all served at room temperature. I added cheese, but all it did was bloat the budget for a $4.50 box-office flop.
 Two more thumbs down: Soggy, sour, burned bacon ruined a fried green tomato BLT ($10.95), and Kerbey Lane even wasted its biggest star — pancakes — with a banana pecan special that chalked apart like wallboard.
 Tortillas: Boilerplate commercial flour and corn tortillas. Wheat tortillas tend to taste and chew like wet cardboard; these are no exception.
 Reboot, with cheese: Nothing could save those tacos, but Kerbey’s Queso is the Fast and Furious of the franchise stable. Steaming cheese in perfect liquid suspension, pico de gallo and fresh guacamole, with a side of Kerbey’s bright, sweet red salsa. A reliable star vehicle, even if the chips looked like Vin Diesel stomped them to bits on the way out of the kitchen. ($8.50)
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The 500 Tacos Project
 
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)