500 Tacos: Taqueria Aylin

 
 
A taco a day for 2015 — and then some
 
Taqueria Aylin
8610 N. Lamar Blvd. (map), 512-317-8412. Hours: 6pm-2am “or whenever it’s time to close” daily
 
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 07.29.15
 
A man tried to sell me “spare tools” out of his trunk the last time I came here, five years ago, with my taco guide Mando Rayo for a Statesman crawl that took us to six places in one overfed night. A trailer called Piedra Grande was here back then, but now there’s Taqueria Aylin, with a spray-painted menu, handmade corn tortillas, licuados and the same twilight roadside charm.
 
Taco A: Lengua
In the best version of itself, roasted tongue can be dense and velvety, with the approachability of brisket and the lush, iron undertones of organ meat. That’s how they roast it here, peeled and cubed and seared off before serving, dressed with onions and cilantro, in top form on a corn tortilla. ($2)
 
 
Taco B: Cecina
The roadside taco stands of North Lamar are strongholds of cecina, which is beef shorn of most of its fat and sliced thin. Like a domesticated version of tripas, it swings from tough and rubbery to crisp and crunchy. It’s the second one at Taqueria Aylin, like popcorn steak in a tortilla, suitable for a manly movie night. “Raging Bull”? No, Almodovar’s “Matador,” the one with the bullfighter. ($2)
 
 Licuado: From that night five years ago, I also remember the licuado: not quite a smoothie, not quite a mikshake. Like a frothed-up Strawberry Quik. With banana. Either way, it’s mostly milk, and definitely not worth $4.
 Tortillas: Aylin makes its own robust, toasted corn tortillas, strong enough for single-layer tacos. Stiff flour tortillas come from a bag.
 Barbacoa and campechano: I’m grouping these two together because they bring out the worst of their styles. The barbacoa is sticky and gamey, bordering on tasting like yesterday’s kill. The seared bistec of the campechano is ruined by burnt, greasy chorizo. ($2 each)
 Pastor: Not bad for a flat-top grill version of pastor — especially on a fresh corn tortilla — cut in balanced nuggets of fat and lean and dusted heavily with red powdered spices. ($2)
 Salsa: Along with a decent squeeze bottle of creamy-style jalapeño verde salsa, Aylin brings out an enameled campfire bowl of freshly chopped molcajete salsa: a chunky mash of roasted peppers with lingering dry heat.
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The 500 Tacos Project
 
 
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)