500 Tacos: Roaring Fork
A taco a day for 2015 — and then some
Hours: 11am-10pm Mon-Thu; 11am-11pm Fri-Sat. Also at: 701 Congress Ave. (map), 512-583-0000
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 04.19.15
The Roaring Fork smells like a campfire at a ski resort for well-dressed middle-aged Southwesterners. The wood grill turns out cedar-plank salmon, double-cut pork chops, scallops, even burgers and enchiladas. It’s decidedly not a taco joint. But I say if life gives you tortillas, make tacos. Roaring Fork gives you all the tools you need.
The taco: Green chili pork
The logic of fish as the default medium for tacos at nice restaurants escapes me. People who order fish in those places are looking for the good stuff, and people who order tacos are OK with something more rustic. Fish tacos miss both of those targets. Which is why I skip them to make my own tacos at Roaring Fork, using the best thing on the menu: a hot iron kettle of green chili pork, served with four buttery warm flour tortillas. It’s a reduced stock scented with cumin, coriander, green chili powder and garlic, infused with diced poblanos. The kettle is loaded with tender chunks of pork fused with jack cheese. And when the flavors are ready to marry, all they need is a tortilla to perform the ceremony. I now pronounce you one of Austin’s best carne guisada tacos ($10 for a kettle and four tortillas). Try it for yourself: Here’s the Fork’s recipe for Green Chili Pork
► Grillfish: Roaring Fork’s wood grill makes better fish tacos than most, nevermind the cognitive dissonance of seafood at a make-believe ranch house. These small whitefish fillets get a nice sear and a simple dash of salt and pepper, resting on guacamole, tangy remoulade, corn pico de gallo and salsa verde. But two tacos on storebought corn tortillas with a small pan of dispensable refried black beans doesn’t deliver much value at $14.
► Tortillas: Most restaurants miss the chance to — at the very least — toast their storebought flour tortillas. Roaring Fork does that, then dresses them with melted butter for green chili pork. Almost like handmade. Almost.
► Salsa: The green chili pork needs no help, but the fish tacos benefit from a twangy salsa verde with garlic and oil like an herb pesto.
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)