500 Tacos: Taqueria Amparito
A taco a day for 2015 — and then some
8545 N. Lamar Blvd. beside the Chevron station (map), 512-712-6478
Hours: Morning to early evening; call for hours
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 07.25.15
Painted the same blue and white as the Chevron station with which it shares a parking lot, the Taqueria Amparito trailer is easy to miss. Go ahead and miss it. On this quarter-mile stretch of North Lamar between 183 and Payton Gin, there are no fewer than nine taquerias and taco trailers, and they’re all better than this one.
The taco: Chicharron
There are chicharrones that still have a little crunch left in them, to honor the fried pork rinds from which they came. And there are chicharrones that have stewed so long in the wasteland that they’ve forgotten where they came from. At Taqueria Amparito, they’re the second kind. The stewpot has sent them back to the wild, to the smooth feral flex of pigskin, with primal pork flavor carried along by a thick, spicy braise and a little color from the flat-top. ($2)
► Al pastor: Where the chicharrones are as soft as glove leather, the pork al pastor is as knobby and rough as a saddle caked with red Rio Grande dust, tough and dry and seasoned hard. ($2)
► Barbacoa and bistec: The cheek-meat barbacoa tastes like the suet from yesterday’s barbecue, scooped cold from a pan and warmed up on the grill. Bistec holds up better, with salty, hard-chew kibbles of beef, dressed with fresh onions and cilantro like all the tacos in this report ($2)
► Tortillas: The corn tortillas are patted out fresh. But you could wrap an Amparito taco in one of those, then put it in a flour tortilla with refried beans, wrap that in another corn tortilla with Monterrey jack cheese, wrap that in a gordita shell with guacamolito sauce, bake it in a cornhusk wrapped in a Parisian crepe, then wrap the whole thing in a deep-dish pizza with a blueberry pancake — and it still wouldn’t take you to Taco Town.
► Salsa: Both the thick red chile de arbol and pureed jalapeño green salsas burn high, hot and dry to scorch away that taco taste in your mouth.
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)