500 Tacos: Mi Tradicion
A taco a day for 2015 — and then some
Also at: 801 E. William Cannon Blvd. No. 125 (map), 512-445-9120
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 05.04.15
Flanked by Pollos both Regio and Rico, plus a Mexican market and a Tex-Mex restaurant, Mi Tradición brings elements of each into a space devoted half to a full-service bakery and half to a restaurant space dealing tortas, quesadillas, huaraches, tostadas and yes, tacos. Plus chile-spiced tamarind ice cream for dessert.
Taco A: Arroz con milanesa
Think a panaderia can’t compete with the fancy downtown guys? This taco says “Yes We Can” with a thick, fresh organic blue-corn tortilla stacked tall with Mexican rice and a flamenco fan of paper-thin beef that’s been lightly breaded and fried just until it’s crisp. The starch, oil and crunch are balanced with tender, sautéed ribbons of jalapeño. ($3.50)
Taco B: Chicken tinga
You haven’t seen a lot of chicken in this series, but you would if it tasted like this: Shredded white meat chicken stewed with onions, tomatoes and spices that suggest barbecue sauce without getting all Krafty about it. ($1.75 on a thick, fresh flour tortilla)
Taco C: Al pastor
I’ll believe the picture of the al pastor trompo in the front window when I see one loaded and spinning in the kitchen, but Mi Tradicion does a solid al pastor either way, with a little seared crunch on the rich, adobo-spiced pork and matchsticks of fresh pineapple. ($1.50 on corn/ $2 on flour)
► Tortillas: Tacos on flour tortillas here cost more than tacos on corn tortillas, and here’s why: The corn tortillas are little 3.5-inch rings of washed-out commercial maiz with a meager capacity for fillings even when they’re double-layered. The flour tortillas, on the other hand, are made by hand, and they’re thick and fatty and chewy and dusty and bready all at the same time. I’m taking home a bag of 10 for $2.50, each one separated by paper and proper respect.
► More tacos: Neither dry barbacoa ($1.75 on corn) nor sloppy pork tacos in achiote chile sauce ($1.50 on corn) were in the same league as the others.
► Honorary taco: They fold their quesadillas into half-moon tacos here, made with the same blue corn tortilla as the milanesa taco. Filled with diced, sautéed zucchini and caramelized onions and topped with thick crema and aromatic cotija cheese, the calabacitas quesadilla is one of the best things in the shop. ($2.99)
► Salsa: Mi Tradición rations out — one tiny cup at a time — hot, creamy jalapeño cilantro green and a flinty chile de arbol red that’s all hot temper with no personality to back it up.
► Tortas: After 123 days of tacos in a row, I can’t imagine why I’d want a sandwich, right? But their tortas — pastor, bistec, Cubano with milanesa and ham — are fresh, filling and cheap, served on fresh telera bread the size of a little-league catcher’s mitt.
► Something sweet: Eyes, ears, horns, wings. Mexican bakery sweets are more about anatomy than variety. Pick a color of sugar-dusted, hard-baked dough, pick a shape and you’re most of the way there. Exceptions at Mi Tradición include excellent sweet glazed orejas (ears) that break apart like flaky pastry snowbursts. And a pastry horn tipped with chocolate and filled with Bavarian cream would be at home in any upscale bakery.
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)