500 Tacos: Paco’s Tacos

A taco a day for 2015 — and then some
Paco’s Tacos
1304 E. 51st St. (map), 512-323-6206, www.pacosaustin.comHours: 6:30am-9pm Tue-Sat, 6:30am-7pm Sun
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 03.11.15
Craig, Jimmy, Johnny, Steve, Rachel. I feel like I’m at a Midwestern malt shop in the ‘50s as the staff calls out orders or simply says hello to the regulars. With rusty signs for oil, cigars and soda and a junkyard scatter of farm tools on its oxidized corrugated fence, Paco’s Tacos looks like a roadhouse on the outside. Milling around the claustrophobic warren of rooms inside the beadboard and brick interior is the same mix of big beards, blondes and ironic hobo boots you’d find at a downtown coffeeshop.
The taco: Paco’s Pick
Steak and potatoes for a steak and potatoes crowd, Paco’s Pick rolls grilled Angus and potatoes like dice across a tortilla stuffed full of sautéed red and green peppers and melted cheese. The meat’s gray and underseasoned, but it adds good chewy bulk to a package that feels like Middle America’s Saturday supper. Or at least an ironic version of it. ($4.50)
 Mas Paco’s: Paco’s does a nice job with juicy, tender carnitas, adds to the package with guacamole, then hamstrings both with pico de gallo tomatoes just south of sour ($3.75). Workaday migas punch the clock with tomatoes, peppers and soft corn tortilla pieces (served all day; $1.99 before 11, $2.25 after).
 Tortillas: None of the tortillas is homemade, but the 5-inch white corn tortillas are fluffed and doubled up. The 6-inch mixtla tortilla — flour and corn — kept Paco’s Pick together with the firm hold of a flour tortilla with a little grit and flavor from the corn.
 Salsa: Five neat placards in front of five neat bins identify a tangy poblano cream, a sweet tomato red, a spicy green tomatillo, a lurking orange habanero that will fry your tastebuds, and a honey habanero whose sour oddness will make you glad those tastebuds are fried.
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)