500 Tacos: Taco Shack

A taco a day for 2015 — and then some
Taco Shack
2825 Guadalupe St. (map), 512-320-8889, eight more locations at www.tacoshack.com
Hours: 6am-2:30pm Mon-Fri, 7am-1:30pm Sat, 8am-2pm Sun
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 01.27.15
If you own the domain name tacoshack.com, your uppercase Taco Shack might not be a lowercase taco shack. But of all nine Taco Shack locations, this one on the Drag’s rundown north end is the shackiest, just a corrugated tin box under a billboard for Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, with a walk-up window, a covered patio and bees flying around the soda fountain. Like with any shack, lower or uppercase, I looked for something authentic, something unusual, something good enough to hang the shop’s name on. I found none of that here. At least I’m full, and that’s as high as my Shaxpectations go.
The taco: Shack Taco
A chef I respect once told me that people have a tendency to measure the quality of their food by how much it weighs. Taquerias have picked up on that, and many have a taco designed for the net-weight mentality. Taco Shack’s entry is the Shack Taco, a hash of eggs, potato cubes, chorizo and cheese that promises to be “stuffed so full, it’s hard to fit your favorite salsa in it.” It’s stuffed no more full than I’d expect for $3, but all four ingredients taste roughly the same, even the loose, dry chorizo. With salt. I did not take up the challenge of the El Niño, with its beans, chorizo and jalapeños. “Can your stomach weather the storm?” We’ll leave that one for the ages.
 More tacos: Let down by Taco Shack’s namesake taco, I sought solace in two taqueria standbys: carne guisada ($3.19) and crispy corn with ground beef ($1.25). The beef was overcooked in both, one in nugget-size pieces drenched in pale brown, salty gravy, the other in a dry crumble of generic taco spice, both with lettuce, commissary cheese and the barest speck of tomato.
 Tortilla: Thin, tasteless storebought corn tortilla, premade crispy corn shell, only slightly better flour.
 Salsa: Taco Shack’s red salsa and ketchup have the same base component: tomatoes. Maybe that’s why one tastes so much like the other. The green salsa fails the same Goldilocks test as the Shack Taco: Not too hot, not too cold, not just right.
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)