500 Tacos: Quality Seafood Market

An Austin taco a day for 2015 — and then some
Quality Seafood Market
5621 Airport Blvd., Austin (map), 512-407-9240, www.qualityseafoodmarket.com
Hours: 10:30am-9pm Mon-Sat
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 12.03.15
A good fish taco is hard to find. Quality Seafood Market seems like a logical place to look, judging from its decades-long residency on Airport and its taco truck. And what a breakfast truck it was, doing crawfish migas and breakfast tacos with alligator sausage and smoked trout. But breakfast service from the truck stopped in September, leaving the mothership to speak for the potential of fish and tortillas. They’ll grill, blacken or fry mahi, catfish or shrimp. I tried a little of each.
The taco: Grilled mahi mahi
This isn’t Sea World, so I don’t expect my fish to dance. I just want it clean, lightly seasoned, properly cooked and appropriately dressed. Quality Seafood delivers on all four counts, with fresh-tasting mahi lightly seared under a dusting of sweet red spice, laid in with tiny ribbons of cabbage and carrot slaw. I’ll have to ponder whether it’s $5 worth of fish taco, at least until Tuesday, when tacos are $3 apiece starting at 6 p.m.
 Blackened shrimp: My goodwill toward the grilled fish doesn’t extend to small, overcooked shrimp with a shroud of Tony Chachere wannabe powder. ($4.99)
 Fried catfish: This thin catfish fillet looks like it went through the woodchipper on the way to lunch, with breading and exposed white flesh scattered among the slaw like a Coen Brothers disposal scene. No excuse for that, not for $5. At least there’s no sandy catfish backwash, mostly because the breading-to-fish ratio favors the former.
 The truck: Regular breakfast service has stopped, but the Quality Seafood truck still makes occasional stops. Find the schedule here.
 Tortillas: You have your choice: Be disappointed by the bleed-through fragility of single-layer storebought corn tortillas or slightly less disappointed by water-repellent commercial flour.
 Salsa: Any taco shop would be proud to have these four salsas: Sweet mango pico de gallo like a miniature Mexican fruit cup, a smoky roasted red salsa with skins and seeds, a mild verde cream sauce like green chile aioli or an avocado pico de gallo, better known as guacamole. The mango and avocado are the only logical choices to preserve the flavor of fish; the other two are just good eating.
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)