500 Tacos: Los Reyes del Taco
An Austin taco a day for 2015 — and then some
Los Reyes del Taco
9406 Dessau Road in the Chevron lot, Austin (map). Hours: 6:30am-midnight daily
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 09.07.15
Even at a Chevron station on a hot summer day, Los Reyes del Taco feels more like a family reunion pavilion than a sunbaked taco trailer. A hipped canvas canopy on a sturdy metal frame shades two long picnic tables with festive grape and strawberry tablecloths, and the woman making food by herself during lunch rush — including handmade corn tortillas — greets every soul like a guest, even a graying gringo ordering in kindergarten Spanish. Los Reyes? No. La Reyna.
The taco: Pollo rojo (left) and pollo verde
Chicken gets two shades of respect at Los Reyes, red and green. Each taco starts with a base of shredded white and dark meat chicken, cooked just until the edges are starting to crisp. Pollo rojo follows the tinga model, with a sweet and mild tomato background. Pollo verde brings big jalapeño heat, but just enough to amplify the flavor rather than burn it to the ground. As a pair, they make a balanced chicken taco experience. ($2 each)
► (above, from left) Suadero, adobada and barbacoa: Three demanding meats, three commanding performances. Suadero is the mellow blonde brownie to barbacoa’s double fudge deluxe. The former is as fatty and salty as uncured bacon and just as delicious, while the latter is unusually crunchy, almost like beef carnitas. The pork adobada is too modest to call itself al pastor, but with its tender sear over a twangy orange marinade, its secret double life is no secret anymore. ($2 each)
► Breakfast: Los Reyes serves breakfast all day, and a potato-and-egg got the same freshly made care halfway through lunch as it would at sunup. ($2)
► Tortillas: Strong, willowy corn tortillas are made by hand, then toasted almost crispy on the grill. Storebought flour tortillas get the same respect, toasted to pull flavor and oil to the surface like homemade.
► Salsa: Respectable tomatillo-jalapeño green and oily, smoky chile de arbol red hit classic taco-truck notes.
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)