500 Tacos: Marcelino Pan y Vino

A taco a day for 2015 — and then some
Marcelino Pan y Vino
901 Tillery St. (map), 512-926-1709, Facebook pageHours: 6am-2pm Mon-Sat
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 06.13.15
If you have so many steampans that your taco slinger’s not sure what all’s in them, then maybe you have too many pans. Marcelino Pan y Vino (no pan, no vino; just pans) builds its breakfast and lunch tacos from about a dozen of those pans. There might be rajas con queso, stewed nopales, puerco verde, chicharrones, fajitas, bacon, cabbage, ranchera, french fries, eggs. I say “might,” because it won’t all be there on any given day, it’s probably not going to be fresh by the time you get there, and it might be gone by then, anyway. Note: You know the egg shortage is getting real when even a mom-and-pop shop like this stops serving eggs from its all-day breakfast menu at 10 a.m.
Taco A: Picadillo and cabbage
Steampans aren’t as cruel to ground beef as they are to more delicate fillings. In fact, time in the pan lets the fat, the lean, the potatoes and the spices marry a bit. It’s still fairly sedate, so a good way to wake up that taco meat is a spread of cabbage with peppers and tomatoes, sautéed so there’s a little snap left in the cabbage. Come to think of it, why isn’t cabbage the standard dress for a Tex-Mex taco instead of iceberg lettuce? It’s the greatest injustice since the turkey was passed over as the national bird in favor of the less delicious bald eagle. ($3.25)
Taco B: Papas rancheros and beans
French fries, ranchero sauce, refried beans. How can three great things make such a lousy breakfast taco? Here’s how: limp and waxy fries, anemic ranchera and such a meager schmear of beans you’d think there was a frijole shortage instead of an egg shortage. ($2.32)
Taco C: Bistec ranchera
This is more of a guisado than a classic bistec stir-fry, a roast beef and gravy experience if the beef had a tomato tattoo and listened to Sturgill Simpson instead of Blake Shelton.  ($3.25)
 Pork two ways: Fat and lean pork both have their days on the menu here, with a rich and tangy chicharron roja (in the center photo above, on the left) that yields to the bite and puerco verde in big roasted chunks with a chile afterglow. ($3.25 each)
 Tortillas: When a handmade corn tortilla has the same pull-apart density and oil-stained translucence of a fine flour tortilla but with a sweet maíz signature, it’s something to write about. The commercial-grade flour is a waste of carbs.
 Salsa: Little plastic cups of salsa sit in bowls by the register to grab on your way out. Look for the orange glow of a dried chile cream-style salsa that’s as sweet as a carrot and as warm as a habanero. They also make a hot jalapeño puree and a respectable, mild, taco-shop salsa fresca.
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)