500 Tacos: Maudie’s Cafe

 
 
A taco a day for 2015 — and then some
 
Maudie’s Cafe
2608 W. Seventh St. at Lake Austin Boulevard (map), 512-473-3740, six more locations at www.maudies.com
Hours: 8am-10pm Sun-Thu; 8am-10:30pm Fri-Sat
 
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 04.18.15
 
The cars start rolling up about five minutes before the restaurant opens at 8. Nice cars, most of them driven by men in their 60s and beyond. This original location of Maudie’s Tex-Mex is their informal boardroom, where they solve the problems of the world over coffee and breakfast tacos.
 
The taco: Tatiana’s Tamale Taco
There had to have been an “a-ha” moment in there somewhere, the day a cook decided to chop up a tamale and scramble it right into the eggs for a tamale taco. But sometimes “a-ha” and “uh-oh” aren’t too far apart. Scrambled eggs are fun at breakfast; tamales throw a party at lunch. But get them together and they forget who they are, mashing into a couple that’s half as interesting as either one by itself. The eggs are overcooked, and the tamale has no real flavor of its own. I borrowed salsa and stole pico from other tacos to add some spark. ($2.50)
 
 
 More tacos: Better options at Maudie’s include seared pork al pastor with pineapple salsa ($2.75) and tender carne guisada with green chile gravy (a best buy at $2.75). A salty pork carnitas taco ($3.75) carries an odd floral bouquet, and another hybrid breakfast taco — chilaquiles ($2.25) — brings too much chipotle overglow and not enough of the mother dish’s soft-and-crunchy interplay.
 Note: Lunch and dinner tacos are usually sold as plates of two or three, but they’ll let you order a la carte the same as breakfast tacos. The whole menu is available all day.
 Tortillas: These basic commercial flour and doubled-up white corn tortillas look and feel like they went from bag to plate, with no warm-up in-between.
 Salsa: Maudie’s table sauce is an all-purpose sweet tomato red with a slow-building chile pepper heat. The tomatillo salsa verde packs so much salt that it’s best kept in its little white dish.
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The 500 Tacos Project
 
 
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)