500 Tacos: Taqueria Castillo
An Austin taco a day for 2015 — and then some
7811 S. First St. in the Gulf lot, Austin (map), 512-621-1583
Hours: 11am-8pm Wed-Mon; closed Tue and daily from 5-6pm
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 10.21.15
The summer was hot enough to push even the mighty “Taco Castle” to the dark side, forcing owner Trinidad Guillén to suspend her daytime hours for a more temperate 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. schedule. But customers at this busy gas station — which runs as much as 30 cents cheaper than stations central and west — weren’t willing to make the change with her, so she’s back doing breakfast, lunch and dinner from 11 to 8, just like she’s done since the trailer opened in July 2014. The only lingering casualty of the heat? Guillén said she’s stopped making tortillas by hand to lighten the load — another reason to curse our Central Texas summers and order a frosty sandia agua fresca ($2.50). It’s like fresh-squeezed watermelon. If you could squeeze a watermelon.
The taco: Chicharrones
When they’re simmered slow and low with salsa verde and stock, pork rinds can be a luscious, velveteen vehicle for the concentrated fatty splendor of the beast. Guillén cuts the pork skin in bigger sections than most, with flecks of lean meat clinging to the edges. The braise is bright and herbal, with onion sweetness and a warming glow set off by fresh onions and cilantro. ($2)
► Fajitas and barbacoa: Grilled on the flat-top with good ratios of fat, lean, oil and salt, a good basic beef fajita taco is sometimes all you need. The trailer also does a lush, fatty and respectable barbacoa with some crisp, flossy edges and a strong seasoned streak through the middle. ($2 each)
► Al pastor: I like mellow adobo pork al pastor, and I like spicy Mexican chorizo. But I also like for them to stay in their lanes. This al pastor weaves across the center line between the two styles like it’s texting while driving. “Down 4 whatev. EspanYOLO.” ($2)
► Tortillas: Basic flour tortillas and doubled-up yellow corn tortillas from a bag.
► Salsa: Squeeze bottles of flinty, warm chile de arbol red and creamy green jalapeño represent the taco trailer canon with dignity.
► Breakfast: Guillén serves $1.49 breakfast tacos until noon.
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)