500 Tacos: La Palapa

A taco a day for 2015 — and then some
La Palapa
6640 U.S. 290 E. (map), 512-459-8729, www.lapalapaaustin.comHours: 11am-midnight Mon-Sat; 11am-10pm Sun
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 04.16.15
Fajitas play a wicked game of envy, trailing their dragon’s breath of onion and iron while you huddle over your plate of ... whatever, I don’t know, it sounded good until I saw THAT. With the San Luis plate, more than just beef sits on the Iron Skillet. The Game of Tacos has entered a new season, with a bigger cast and more carne. Dinner is coming.
The taco: San Luis Style Fajitas
The Iron Skillet forgives many sins of the fajita. The smell, the sizzle, the steam, the spectacle. They conspire to distract us from tough skirt, beat-up chicken, weary onions. At La Palapa, the show and sizzle are banners for food from the king’s table. The beef behaves like tenderloin, rich and tender with a charcoal afterglow. If you mix beef and chicken — as is your right — the beef is first in line of succession over the lower-born chicken. And its attendants are multitude and worthy: seared potatoes, caramelized petals of onion, fat slices of grilled tomato and firm mushrooms that soak up every flavor in the realm. Now the Game of Tacos begins, tortilla kingdoms built with pico, sour cream, guacamole and cheese — even salty orange rice and beans studded with bacon for more ... adventurous ... appetites. ($13.49 for one, which is enough for two, if you’re willing to share power.)
 Tortillas: Well, somebody has to lose a head in every episode. I’ll put these storebought peasant flour and corn tortillas on the chopping block for sport.
 Salsa: Hot as Seven Hells. Is what I wish I could say. But no, the medium-hot jar-style salsa has never even seen the show.
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)