500 Tacos: Sabor A Taqueria
An Austin taco a day for 2015 — and then some
Sabor A Taqueria
7207 E. Riverside Drive, Austin (map)
Hours: 7am-1 or 2pm and 5pm-11pm daily
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 09.20.15
Looking for taco trailers at night is like hunting deer with a spotlight. My headlights caught Sabor A Taqueria after one of my intended East Side trailers had vanished and another took an unannounced night off. Another day in Trailerland, where any resemblance to posted hours, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
The taco: Gringa de campechana
Sabor A Taqueria downplays the actual taco part of its name, with just one mention on a menu as dense as a legal notice. I missed that mention and ordered instead the more prominently advertised gringa. Call it a quesadilla if you must, but a folded tortilla filled with meat, onions and cilantro is a taco in my book, even if the pages are stuck together with cheese — pages from The Big Book of Tacos, a full 10 inches across, bound by a toasted flour tortilla. The “campechana” part comes from pork al pastor and beef carne asada. Though the meats come from different beasts, they end up tasting the same here, dominated by salt and oil. What little spice there is gets smothered beneath a blanket of melted queso blanco. There are no prices listed on the menu, so the $7 I paid for the gringa came as a surprise, and not the good kind, even if it did weigh almost half a pound.
► Tortillas: Neither the corn nor flour tortillas are made by hand, but the gringa’s 10-inch toasted flour tortilla has just the right weight to absorb the grease without falling apart.
► Salsa: Straightforward salsa verde goes heavy on tomatillos, light on jalapeños. The trailer’s red tomato salsa follows the same mild formula.
► Regular tacos: True, tacos aren’t listed by name on the menu. But just ask, and Sabor A Taqueria will recite a roll-call of taqueria standards like tripas, bistec, pollo asado, pastor, chicharrones and more, including breakfast tacos in the morning.
► On a bun: I hate to be the guy who brings a hot dog to a taco fight, but you go to war with the weapons you have, and Sabor A Taqueria’s got dogs. This one starts with a basic frank, not so much wrapped as mummy-rolled in bacon, entombed with boiled deli ham, melted white cheese and onions cooked long enough to be sour but not long enough to be caramelized. Criss-cross it with mayo, mustard and ketchup and drop it into a chewy white roll, and you’ve got a $4 gut-rocket that looks like a sweaty cage-fighter under these floodlights. But it eats just fine.
► Taco-trailer sushi?: “Pepiloco” is a tiny metropolis of hollow cucumber towers, filled with shrimp and crunchy peanut puffs called cacahuates. I have to admire the knifework behind these cucumber tubes. But the chaos inside them — the chile-sour-salty cocktail of clamato and chamoy, the rubbery little commas of freezer shrimp —is like a sushi cutter’s Kobayashi Maru, which any Star Trek fan will tell you is a test that nobody passes. Unless you’re Kirk. And they ain’t Kirk. ($5)
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)