500 Tacos: Tacos Estrella
An Austin taco a day for 2015 — and then some
2125 W. Ben White Blvd. in the Shell lot, Austin (map), 512-435-1600
Hours: 6am-3pm Mon-Sat
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 09.09.15
Dawn breaks at Pack Saddle Pass and Ben White with the cardboard sign guy on the corner looking for a handout, a painting crew waiting for tacos and a coughing man in a do-rag drinking beer and cackling at amusements known only to him. It’s another weekday morning at Tacos Estrella, posted up at the gas station with $1.75 breakfast tacos, handmade corn tortillas and a deceptively big menu for such a small trailer.
Taco A: Suadero
In the land of lean taco beef, fat-bellied suadero is king. Real beef belly suadero, as decadent and striped with fat and lean as bacon. I’ve had good suadero at Taqueria Morales and Las Chivas, but this is the best so far, with a sear to gild the edges crispy brown and leave the fat in primordial balance, served with onions and cilantro on a fresh corn tortilla. ($2)
Taco B: Eggs, nopales and potatoes
Skin-on new potatoes lend a speckled red country charm to this taco, tender and salty in a mix of eggs scrambled to order with squeaky sautéed cactus, a touch of green to liven up the traditional tanscape of papas y huevos. Painted with Estrella’s chile de arbol salsa, this fortified taco sets a new breakfast standard for me. ($1.75 + .25 for a third item)
► Barbacoa: When it comes to steamed head meat, real street-style barbacoa isn’t tourist food, with collagenous tubes and amorphous fatty blobs in a tangle of beef cleaving together like wet burlap. Forget the tourists, though. We know that this is the only way to eat barbacoa. ($2.25)
► Carnitas and al pastor: With skin and fat and fibered lean, this roasted carnitas with a flat-top sear is a plus-size role model. The pastor is the morning’s only underachiever, with a lazy dusting of adobo spice over tough knobs of pork. ($2 each)
► Tortillas: Flour tortillas come from a bag, but the corn tortillas stay strong and flexible, with thick layers of real toasted maíz flavor.
► Salsa: Traditional cream-style jalapeño green gets a brace of garlic, while the chile de arbol red is alive with seeds and skin that give it a depth like the devil’s Dr Pepper.
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)