500 Tacos: Papalote, Part 2

A taco a day for 2015 — and then some
Papalote, Part 2
13219 U.S. 183 N., Suite 100 (map), 512-840-0745, www.yumpapalote.com
Hours: 7am-10pm Mon-Fri; 8am-10pm Sat; 8am-8pm Sun. Also at: 2803 S. Lamar Blvd. (map), 512-804-2474
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 07.23.15
Papalote has exported the formula that works so well in Austin’s slackerish south to the more industrious north. That formula? Build on basic street tacos to create hybrids that are part traditional, part progressive. My first report — from the original Papalote on South Lamar — focused on vegetarian. Today at the new location, I get to the meat of the matter.
Taco A: Eggs and franks
 Hot dogs and tacos. The merging of two national pasttimes. Papalote will chop up a weenie and scramble it with eggs and fresh poblano peppers for $1.99. It’s a cheap, salty breakfast any time of the day.
Taco B: Puerco en pipian
The pork is pulled in such fine threads, and the pumpkin-seed mole is so delicate that the abrasive oregano bark of pickled onions is the first thing I taste. Digging deeper, the mole has a thick backbone like bechamel, if bechamel snuck into the spice cabinet. My advice: Hold those onions, but keep the cabbage for crunch and the avocado for creaminess.  ($3.50)
Taco C: Tinga de res
Tinga has been a reliable prep method for disguising the inadequacies of industrial chicken with a braise that adds flavor, sweetness and hydration. Papalote applies the same technique to beef here. The beef’s already strong — rich and fatty and pulled in tender shreds. Stew it in chipotle and cabbage and tomato, then hit it with avocado and queso fresco? Why should chicken have all the fun? ($3.50)
Taco D: Guajolote en mole
That thing I said about chicken and tinga? That goes for turkey and mole, too. Except in this case, the bird gets lost completely in a mole that tastes like brown sugar syrup with a dash of seasoned salt.  Served under a blanket of cabbage and pickled onions, it’s the first turkey taco in this series. There’s a reason for that. ($3.50)
 Lengua: Here’s the bridge between traditional and progressive: Gnarly, unpeeled, street-style roasted tongue, chopped and stewed in a tangy red sauce. The acid in that sauce lets more of that “other meat” taste of tongue come through by knocking down the alien texture. Dressed heavily with cilantro, onion and queso fresco. Wash it down with a $2 hibiscus agua fresca that’s both brilliantly red and brilliantly tart. ($3.50)
 What’s for lunch: From 11am-3pm weekdays, Papalote will add rice and good refried black beans to any two of your favorite tacos to make a $7.50 plate lunch. Among Austin’s best taco lunch deals.
 Tortillas: Sticky commercial flour and doubled-up yellow corn tortillas.
 Salsa: There’s a stout dried chile red and a mild blended green. But most of the tacos in this report are best left to their mother sauces.
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)