500 Tacos: Tacos Ricos

A taco a day for 2015 — and then some
Tacos Ricos
2217 E. Oltorf St. in the Texaco lot (map), 512-740-3210
Hours: Daytime 8am-2pm Mon-Fri and 9am-2pm Sat-Sun. Nighttime 6pm-midnight Sun-Thu, 6pm-3am Fri-Sat
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 02.26.15
Oaxaca native Aldo Lopez has been cooking for 30 years, 15 of those for a catering company in Austin before he and Ana Sorto opened the Tacos Ricos trailer in the parking lot of a South Austin Texaco station six years ago. (That’s Ana Sorto with a plate of tacos in the trailer window, below.) They serve a crashingly busy crossroads that also includes a Mexican market and the Taqueria Chapala and El Jacalito restaurants. And they do it with tacos so fresh and hot they breathe steam in the cold, rainy air like a living thing.
The taco: Barbacoa
The barbacoa here is a mix of beef cheek and chuck roll, Lopez said. “I don’t like too much grease,” he said, hip-checking barbacoa for the fatty swagger that makes it so polarizing: Either you love it or you hate it. Lopez finds barbacoa’s middle ground, leaving enough fat from the cheek to caramelize into a crusty bark similar to brisket and keep the chuck tender and moist. ($3)
 $1.50 taco alert: This trailer’s Huevos a la Mexicana taco brings together egg, tomato, onion and green pepper. For such a short engagement, these flavors make for a productive marriage of flavors and textures. It’s fresh and dense, a real value at just $1.50, the same price as most of the breakfast taco menu.
 Chuckwagon theater: The alambre taco ($3, above right) is like an iron skillet campfire dinner of tender chuck, caramelized onion, seared bell pepper and cheese, with bacon providing the harmonica. But it's not all handshakes and howdys: The pork al pastor ($2) comes off more like white meat chicken, and a campechana taco with steak and chorizo ($3) suffers the greasy sins of the latter.
 Tortillas: Standard-issue flour or double corn, warmed on the flat-top.
 Salsa: This laid-back salsa verde is one of those unexpected trailer treasures; it’s like cool, liquefied guacamole. The burnt orange chile de arbol has an aftertaste like melting plastic.
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)