500 Tacos: Mellizoz Tacos

A taco a day for 2015 — and then some
Mellizoz Tacos
1503 S. First St. (map), 512-916-4996, www.mellizoztacos.com
Hours: 7:30am-3:30pm Mon-Wed, 7:30am-10pm Thu-Fri, 9am-10pm Sat, 9am-9pm Sun
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 01.30.15
This place used to be Izzoz Tacos, but they had to change the name because it sounded too much like Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.” Almost that stupid, anyway. John Galindo opened the place in 2009, drawing on years as a chef at his family’s Mexican restaurant in Wimberley, then a brief but celebrated run at that town’s Cedar Grove Steakhouse. A regional chain called Izzo’s Illegal Burrito challenged the name, and Izzoz was reborn in 2012 as Mellizoz — Spanish for fraternal twins — to honor the twins of sister and co-founder Jessica Galindo Winters and her husband, Adam Winters, who still run the trailer these days. (That’s the family in the inset photo: dad Adam, mom Jessica with 10-month-old Nicholas Cruz Winters and the namesake mellizos Ava and Adam.) What never changed were tacos that took old classics — machaca, carnitas, crispy beef — and turned them into new classics.
Taco A: Padre
It will never take the place of fatty, chunky trompo pastor, but this shredded carnitas honors the form with a juicy and mellow adobo braise punctuated by creamy, herbal salsa verde, fresh avocado and cooked pineapple. ($3.50)
Taco B: Old School
Fresh leaf spinach, bright red tomatoes, sharp cheddar, spicy ground beef as thick as a hamburger patty packed into a thick corn tortilla shell fried to order. This is the taco we suburban kids grew up with, turned into something we’d claim no matter where we were from. ($3)
Taco C: Slowrider
Braising beef in Lone Star beer is just a gimmick. Until you taste the malt in the hop-bittered afterglow. How did that awful beer become this rich, tender shredded beef? Give equal credit to sweet caramelized onions, tangy cotija cheese and the bitter-but-beautiful bouquet of cilantro. Toast the end product with a cold beer. Anything but Lone Star. ($3.50)
Taco D: Fried avocado
Making hot garlic french fries in a trailer is doable enough. Tough, but doable. But putting a delicate tempura shell over something as fragile as an avocado? That’s an achievement. That precise frying pays tribute to the architecture of this taco, with flavors built from arugula’s green pepper glow and a bistro-grade sherry vinaigrette with a warm chipotle finish. If all this came on a handmade tortilla, I could see this taco as a starter at any nice restaurant in the city. ($3.75)
 Bonus taco: Mellizoz opens early and serves breakfast until closing time, and their migas are a made-to-order mosaic of eggs, onion, tomato, sharp cheddar and corn tortilla pieces. Mild for my taste, but fresh and full. ($2.75)
 Tortillas: Storebought tortillas are the wings of Daedalus, sealed with wax to keep our taquerias from flying too close to the sun. How’s that for rationalization? Those commercial flour tortillas are Mellizoz’ Achilles’ heel, but the corn tortillas are better, because they have to be stout enough to become fresh-fried Old School shells. So they’re thicker — and corny-er — even if human hands didn’t pat them out.
 Salsa: Again, taqueria standards brought to their highest levels. The green is straight jalapeño puree, fresh and thick with heat but no tears. The red is a flinty chile de arbol against a smoky tomato backdrop.
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)