500 Tacos: Taqueria La Esperanza

An Austin taco a day for 2015 — and then some
Taqueria La Esperanza
3612 S. Congress Ave. in the South Congress Beverage Barn lot, Austin (map)
Hours: 6pm-3am Wed-Sat
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 08.22.15
I’ll keep this one brief, because not every taco stand is a stay-awhile proposition, and Taqueria La Esperanza shares the get-it-and-go aesthetic of the Beverage Barn with which it shares a parking lot. Except for the drive-through part.
The taco: Beef fajita
An hour into its opening time, La Esperanza was still a question mark, an empty stand with nothing cooking. When the host walked up with produce and supplies in hand, I asked in Spanish if he was open (yes, I have that part down). I got a scowl and a nod, and when I asked what he liked best, the answer came back “beef fajita.” I can see why: It’s as tough and inscrutable as he was at first, seared rough on the outside and chopped with the kind of random fat-and-gristle that leads a man to run a late-night taco trailer next to a drive-through liquor store. But that hard-edged meat mellowed fast in the company of lettuce, onions, cilantro and cheese, “con todo” style. ($2.50)
 Pastor and barbacoa: A hardcore barbacoa fan with a bomber of cheap beer in his belly might love this funky, greasy, globby cheek meat taco. I did not. An al pastor taco looks like it’s been hacked at by an angry mob, left gasping and hewn in shiny, unhappy bits with nothing but a roughly salty edge to show for it. ($2.50 each)
 Tortillas: Flour and two-ply white corn from a bag, warmed on the flat-top.
 Salsa: The trailer’s lone squeeze-bottle jalapeño verde is like the guy running the place: a little hot at first, but a little more mellow, even sweet, once you show him some green.
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)