500 Tacos: Picnik Austin

An Austin taco a day for 2015 — and then some
Picnik Austin
1700 S. Lamar Blvd., Austin (map), 512-293-6118, www.picnikaustin.com
Hours: 7am-4pm Mon-Fri; 8am-5pm Sat-Sun
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 12.19.15
The clientele at Picnik are some of the most fit, stylish, infuriatingly positive people you’ll ever see lined up outside a converted shipping container. The paleo lifestyle has something to do with that, a philosophy of eating that goes back to our anthropological roots by eating what the first people did. Less sugar and grain and dairy, more meat and fruit and vegetables. Picnik is one of the few Austin places that speaks the language, and they’ve done their best to translate the language to tacos.
The taco: Egg and chorizo
Volcanic, greasy, intemperate. That’s straight from chorizo’s Tinder profile. If you’re inclined to swipe left, consider the chorizo at Picnik first. Sweet, lean, accommodating. So charming, in fact, that it compensates for the hard-scrambled nuggets of egg in this tiny, $4 warmed-over taco in its breakaway tortilla made of almond flour. Swipe right, because those people in line might be onto something. (Available from opening until they run out — as early as 8:45, as late as lunchtime)
 Butter coffee: This was the year we heard about Bulletproof coffee, made with butter and hyper-refined coconut oil. For energy! For metabolism! For weight loss! Slow down there, Jitter Bug. That may all be true, but whatever the case, Picnik’s butter coffee is one of the richest, creamiest, most satisfying cups of coffee I’ve ever had. The oil adds body more than taste, and the butter stays with you like natural lip gloss. ($4.25/12oz)
 Carnitas: So this is what it feels like to get screwed with your yoga pants on. $10.95 for two featherweight tacos with stiff, dessicated pork and plain red onions in brittle almond flour tortillas, with a side of salty avocado slurry. Served cold, like revenge. Or rather “picnic-style,” as Picnik calls it. I call it nobody standing up and saying the emperor has no clothes. (Available all day)
 Tortillas: These almond flour tortillas aren’t so much tortillas as they are the suggestion of tortillas, crumbling like damp communion wafers around even their modest payloads.
 Salsa: Picnik’s mild tomatillo salsa has a mellow citrus glow. For the real sizzle, turn to some of the best bottled sauces I’ve had in this series: jalapeño, serrano and habanero sauces from Yellowbird of Austin. Each one carries its pepper’s signature sting, tempered by sweetening and freshening agents like carrots, cucumber and cane sugar. Jalapeño’s the best, a counterintuitive vermillion cloak for those times when the emperor has no yoga pants.
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)