500 Tacos: La Mexicana Market

An Austin taco a day for 2015 — and then some
La Mexicana Market
834 E. Rundberg Lane, Austin (map), 512-834-8797, Facebook page
Taqueria hours: 6am-9pm daily
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 10.05.15
La Mexicana is one of cleanest, most geometrically stocked markets of its size I’ve seen in Austin. Rows of Mexican spices, dried peppers, Goya canned goods, chile manzano peppers, beef milanesa. All of it fronted and squared away in a store with an aroma as neutral as a model home, despite the fact that there’s a full-service taqueria to the left as you walk in and a carniceria on the right. It’s almost a mirror image of the grocery/taqueria/check-cashing set-up of Tienda Mexicana across the street — a brighter, fresher mirror image, even if the tacos in that mirror aren’t always pretty.
The taco: Deshebrada
Getting shredded beef to that delicate balance of lean fiber and fatty moisture would be enough, but La Mexicana stews its deshebrada with a rich braise of green chiles that lends it juiciness and big vegetal flavor with a lingering burn. ($1.89 flour/$1.79 corn)
 Suadero: Leaner, tougher and cut thicker than most of the beef-belly tacos in this series, this taco isn’t the best ambassador for the esteemed suadero federation. ($1.89 flour/$1.79 corn)
 Pastor and carnitas: The Halloween black-and-orange pastor tastes like it was resurrected from yesterday’s scalded pan. The carnitas are better, pulled in chunks and stands with a little juice to soften out the harder edges. ($1.89 flour/$1.79 corn)
 Tortillas: In a grocery store without its own tortilleria, flour and doubled-up white corn tortillas come from a bag. The flour toasts up and tastes better than the corn.
 Salsa: A four-bay salsa bar holds a cool salsa verde chopped as fine as ice in a snowcone flavored by green chiles and lime; a modestly spicy and viscous tomatillo verde; a red salsa as tomato-sweet as gazpacho; and a pickled chop of cabbage and whole grilled jalapeño peppers.
 Programming note: The taqueria also makes breakfast tacos until 11 a.m.
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)