500 Tacos: Mi Pueblo Meat Market

An Austin taco a day for 2015 — and then some
Mi Pueblo Meat Market
6575 Decker Lane, Austin (map), 512-926-7016, www.jdmarkets.com
Taqueria hours: 6am-9pm daily
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 10.02.15
A well-run Mexican grocery is a hive of sound and motion. At Mi Pueblo, a bandsaw whines through beef ribs in the carniceria, a baker pulls apart bolillo rolls fresh from the pan, children throw fits in front of the pastry case and people crowd the taqueria counter, reading from a menu that spreads across the back wall like an IMAX screen. If you’ve ever been to the rodeo out at the Travis County Expo Center, maybe you’ve been here. If not, file it away for a cheap family dinner after a day of playing cowboy.
The taco: Lengua
At just $1.69, this carefully trimmed and roasted beef tongue taco is a good value, with the dense meat cooked down tender without going gray. Its coral glow conveys big salty beef flavor, as much like a brisket as the funky scrub pad that lengua sometimes is. It’s cut in long strips, dressed with fresh onions and cilantro.
 Deshebrada and bistec: Mi Pueblo keeps its beef streak going strong with lightly stewed bistec cut in short ribbons and seared on the grill. The deshebrada, or shredded beef, holds together in tender strands, bound together with a reduction of chile and tomato that gives it sweetness and low, dusky heat. ($1.69 each)
 Al pastor: The proud pastor form takes a beating here, tasting like a mealy pile of yesterday’s burnt chili. ($1.69)
 Tortillas: This is a grocery store, and so it only makes sense that the tortillas would come from ... a store. The doubled-up white corn and waxy flour tortillas spend some time on the grill, but neither takes the place of handmade.
 Salsa: Wide plastic bowls of malcajete and chile de arbol salsas on the counter invite you to take as much as you want. You’ll want lots, especially the chile de arbol, with the big smoke of dried peppers and the soft sweetness of their seeds and flesh. Chunky and charismatically hot, it’s one of the best chile de arbol salsas in this series. I also liked the roasted chop of chiles, onions and garlic in the fresh molcajete salsa.
 Breakfast tacos: Breakfast is served 6am-11am, with huevos a la Mexicana and rancheros plates for $6.99 and breakfast tacos for $1.69.
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)