500 Tacos: Las Delicias Meat Market
A taco a day for 2015 — and then some
Las Delicias Meat Market
111 W. William Cannon Drive (map), 512-326-2525. Taqueria hours: 7am-7pm daily
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 08.10.15
The beauty of Austin’s neighborhood carnicerias is that they’re one-stop shops for fruits, meats, vegetables, Mexican pastries, general dry goods — and at so many of them — tacos. Not just crispy tacos with rice and beans, but pans of carnitas, pastor, barbacoa, chicharrones and whatever that store takes pride in. Las Delicias has a fair amount to be proud of.
Taco A: Deshebrada
Shredded beef has the twin merits of texture — tender, because it’s pulled in long, ropy strands — and flavor, because the red chiles, tomatoes and salt have more surface area to work with. Here, it’s deep and smoky from the dried chiles, lean but not too lean, and ready to draw power from the fresh salsa bar. ($1.99 on corn/$2.19 flour)
Taco B: Barbacoa
For most places, it’s enough to steam the beef cheek that goes into barbacoa. They focus on the fatty texture and let the flavors fall where they may. At Las Delicias, the texture is lush like it needs to be, but the flavor races past in a streak of garlic, blending gracefully with the iron-rich meat it serves. Available weekends only. ($1.99 on corn/$2.19 flour)
► Pork (and more pork): At a place that deals its meat from pans, the Colorado red of pork al pastor is a powerful draw, and the even coating of salty adobo marinade hides two nice surprises: pieces of cooked pineapple and a few fatty pieces of chicharron. I wish I’d resisted the bubbling pan of primordial chuleta, with sliced pork chops jutting like shipstruck icebergs from its angry waters. From that deep, spicy braise came meat as hard and dry as a Martian landscape. ($1.99 on corn/$2.19 flour)
► Tortillas: The two women working the counter disagreed on this one; one saying handmade, the other saying no. Given the uniformity and defined edges of the doubled-up white corn tortillas, I’ll go with no. All of the tacos I ordered — even the ones I ordered on flour — showed up on corn.
► Salsa: The cold stainless steel pans of the little salsa bar hold onions, cilantro, key limes, fresh radish, pickled pink radish, fresh cabbage and an escabeche of cabbage, carrot and jalapeño. Alongside are squeeze bottles of creamy jalapeño and viscous tomatillo green salsa, both with mild heat, and a watery chile de arbol red with immediate, scorched-earth fire.
► Programming note: Breakfast and breakfast tacos are served until 2 p.m.
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)