500 Tacos: MiJo’s Tex-Mex & Cantina

A taco a day for 2015 — and then some
MiJo’s Tex-Mex & Cantina
1000 E. 11th St., Suite 150 (map), 512-480-0707, www.mijosaustin.com
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 05.20.15
(UPDATE: MiJo's has closed)
Happy hours make MiJo’s the happiest. They’re advertised over the front door, on placards, on tricorner menu boards atop every table. Nothing wrong with that. Happy hours fill the restaurant dead zone between lunch and dinner, and MiJo’s has a lot of space to fill. I’ll play along, with some loaded queso and a house margarita to go with my plate full of street tacos. Hard not to be happy in this festive space, a wide open room in tones of ochre, teal and smoky blue, with a dark wood bar across the back and perforated tin globes hovering like mobile moonlight.
The taco: Street tacos
They’re little, so five street tacos count as one, right? But these little guys bring big flavor, flavor born of grilled and chopped steak mixed with mild and lean Mexican chorizo, cooked with cilantro, onion and grilled jalapeños. They’re thoughtfully plated on housemade corn tortillas with grilled onion and lime, a solid value at $7.99, or $1.60 apiece.
 Happy hour: You can wash down a lot of street tacos with $3 frozen margaritas. Sweet, tart and punchy, they do their jobs as support players to other HH specials like MiJo’s Queso, a basic yellow-orange cheese dip spiked with pico, guacamole and nuggets of mild taco meat ($4.50 HH/regularly $8.49). Happy hour runs from 3-7 Mon-Fri, all day Sat-Sun.
 Tortillas: Thick, flaky, firm and toasted, I’ll put MiJo’s handmade flour tortillas against some of the best in Austin. They also make their own corn tortillas, even the thick and sturdy 3.5-inch ones that lend cornbread character to the street tacos.
 Puffy taco: Done MiJo’s style, the puffy tacos is less of a fluffed pillow of masa and more of a robust corn tortilla with superpowers from the fryer. Those powers? The uncanny ability to be flexible, chewy and crunchy at the same time. It makes a decent, albeit greasy, base for shredded white and dark meat chicken dressed with lettuce, tomato and queso fresco. ($8.99 for two with rice and beans)
 Salsa: MiJo’s basic red is a tomato salsa so well-mannered you’ll question its motives. The blended jalapeño green, on the other hand? With its fiery charm, you know exactly where it’s coming from.
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)