500 Tacos: Mighty Bird
A taco a day for 2015 — and then some
Hours: 7am-8pm Mon-Fri; 8am-8pm Sat; 8am-3pm Sun. Breakfast until 11am Mon-Sat, all day Sun.
Also at: 2900 W. Anderson Lane, Suite 14 (map), 512-454-2473
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 04.24.15
Legend has it that the Mighty Bird was born in the fires of the Austin City Limits Festival of 2013. That was the year they simultaneously launched their first store and joined the mosh pit of ACL vendors with 8,000 pounds of chicken and 13,000 tortillas. This legend has the benefit of truth, and almost two years later, Mighty Bird is feeding two stores specializing in fire-roasted chicken. Or phoenix, if you prefer.
The taco: The Mighty Bird
Three strong elements unite for the Bird’s signature taco. The first is a lean chicken chorizo set aglow with warm chile and herb. The second is healthy ratio of sweet and crunchy kernels of fresh roasted corn, some it still cleaving together in neat rows, with charred and caramelized crowns. The third is a hot flour tortilla made by hand. The triad gets further support from onions, cilantro and cheese. ($3.99)
► The rest of the nest: Mighty Bird does a chicken-and-the-egg thing at breakfast with the Early Bird, a union of well-salted, tender, white and dark meat rotisserie chicken in a blanket of fluffy scrambled eggs, topped with a chipotle mayo “Mighty Sauce.” $3.99 seems high for a breakfast taco, but the price gets support from the quantity and quality of the chicken — and a handmade flour tortilla. The chicken is an even stronger player in the Rajas ($3.99), finished with a thick tangle of roasted poblano pepper and sweet onion on a fresh corn tortilla.
► Tortillas: Mighty Bird rolls its own corn and flour tortillas, then cooks them to order on a comal by the front door for everybody to see. I respect that kind of transparency as much as I appreciate the semi-transparent spots on the flour tortillas, welcome windows into the oil and heat that inform their tensile strength and agility. The corn tortillas have the same thick durability, with ruffled edges and a resounding echo of cornbread flavor.
► Queso: A cup of thick, spicy, adobe-colored queso with chopped green chiles is just $1.99 with chips, and it would do well in a blind test against Austin’s top-tier quesos.
► Coffee: At breakfast, the Bird pours three local brews — Fara Coffee, Anderson’s and a rich, nuanced Texas Coffee Traders “Mighty Bird” roast.
► Salsa: Pump canisters at the salsa bar carry three contenders: a creamy orange habanero like a spicy doppelganger of Spaghetti-Os sauce, a thin and mild roasted red and a creamy, deep green “Tri-Chili” labeled “spicy” that’s actually gentle, full of flavor, and a little sweet. Skip the squeeze bottle of salty ranch.
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)