500 Tacos: Melissa’s Kitchen

 
 
An Austin taco a day for 2015 — and then some
 
Melissa’s Kitchen
5708 Burleson Road, Austin (map), 512-351-0974
Hours: 6:30am-2pm Mon-Fri; 7am-1pm Sat
 
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 12.25.15
 
In the misty hours of a workday morning, cheap breakfast tacos bring the work trucks to this little red trailer. Melissa’s Kitchen folds in two ingredients for just $1.25. Bacon, eggs, sausage, chorizo, nopales, beans, cheese. With the option of handmade corn tortillas, that’d be enough to keep the window open. But for a little extra, they’re also making migas, chicharrones, pastor, lengua and the whole lunch taco pantheon — and making them good enough to be more than just the trailer alternative to El Meson a few driveways down.
 
The taco: Migas
I have respect for any taqueria that packs migas with fresh peppers, onions and tomatoes along with the broken-up tortilla chips that made them famous. I have even more respect when they do it for just $1.50, nevermind that the chips are from a bag and the eggs taste a little like the chicharrones I ordered at the same time. ($1.50)
 
 
 More breakfast tacos: Ribbons of Taylor ham give freshly scrambled eggs some salt and personality, even if that personality is co-opted by the aftertaste of chicharrones. A simple bean and cheese taco brings frijoles warmed on the flat-top under a blanket of grated queso blanco. ($1.25 each)
 Chicharrones and al pastor: They’re not listed on the menu, but Melissa’s makes a full line of lunch tacos for around $2, and they’re happy to make one even in the morning. These mushy chicharrones ($1.50) leaked their fatty attitude on the other tacos in my order, so I’m holding a grudge. But the pastor escaped unharmed, with hard-grilled pork nuggets in aggressively salted adobo with a shower of onions and cilantro ($2).
 Tortillas: Commercial flour tortillas get some nice color on the grill. Melissa’s handmade corn tortillas are sabotaged by easy tearing and a tendency to soak through.
 Salsa: A bright, vinegary tomato red brings a moderate sting of onions and peppers. A chunky tomatillo green gets most of its caustic power from too much salt.
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The 500 Tacos Project
 
 
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)