500 Tacos: Taqueria Arandas #5

 
 
A taco a day for 2015 — and then some
 
Taqueria Arandas #5
2448 S. First St. (map), 512-707-0887. Hours: 7am-midnight daily
 
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 01.01.15
 
Of the Arandas locations scattered around town, this is still my favorite, the one where I took dinner breaks from my Statesman design job to refill the creative tank. Or just to procrastinate over burnt diner coffee and a plate of al pastor and grilled jalapeño. The glass and fluorescent original shop was upgraded a few years back to yellow stucco and fluorescents, but it’s still a friendly place to fill up for less than $10 — chips and table service included — and to brush up on your restaurant Spanish. ¿Listo?
 
The taco: Al pastor
You know that porky orange pineapple twang you love about tacos al pastor? Well, this isn’t it. The burnt-orange sear is mostly for show. But it’s not a bad show. Some lean, some pure fat, some just right. It’s a soft and crunchy carnivoral back-and-forth with onion and cilantro in reserve for earthy contrast. ($1.80)
 Tortilla: Doubled-up store-bought corn
 Salsa: The Arandas red doesn’t sit around long enough to be anything but bright and fresh, with chunks of tomato punctuated by cilantro and crisp white onions with medium heat. A step up on the heat-o-meter is a roasted tomatillo verde bursting with that little green jewel’s viscous character and just the right smokiness for the al pastor. The emulsified jalapeño green will attack your sinuses harder than cedar fever. Those aren’t tears of joy.
 Alternate taco: Arandas makes a reliable migas taco on a flour tortilla that’s not made there but gets some mottled crispy personality from the grill. Soft-scrambled egg, cheese, chopped jalapeño, onion, tomato and strips of corn tortilla. Not bad for $1.60.
 
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The 500 Tacos Project
 

(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)