500 Tacos: Taqueria La Nueva

An Austin taco a day for 2015 — and then some
Taqueria La Nueva
2223 Burton Drive in the Discoteca Sanchez lot, Austin (map), 512-317-1706
Hours: 6pm-11pm Wed-Sun
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 09.04.15
The serendipity of the Austin taco experience is looking up from one trailer and seeing another one across the street that you didn’t even know about. And it happened that way with Taqueria La Nueva, crowded with people at 8 on a weeknight for $2 tacos as the traffic roared by on Oltorf and a tiny radio blared at the top its lungs in a lot that smelled like a porta-potty. I never said serendipity was pretty.
The taco: Bistec
“Bistec!” is the call I hear again and again from the trailer window. It’s a safe bet for a street taco, the one most quickly circulated and fresher because of it. This is a solidly working class taco, big on salt and big beef chewiness even when it’s chopped in busy little bits. For $2, it’s filling and decent, with onions and cilantro and the option of a handmade corn tortilla.
 Suadero and lengua: Both of these minor-league beef players step up to the pros, The tongue is roasted tender and peeled, with a clean and fresh iron finish ($2.50). The suadero is chopped like fatty confetti, light on the lean for a taste like uncured beef bacon ($2).
 Al pastor: There’s no time for slow-roasted, fussed-over pork at a turn-and-burn trailer on the side of a busy road. So the pastor compromises with angry, deep red spicing and gnarls of pork gone crisp at the edges. ($2)
 Tortillas: The small, thin, single-layer corn tortillas are made by hand. Flour tortillas come from a bag, but they’re brought to a decent sunspot toasting on the flat-top.
 Salsa: Chile de arbol red, creamy jalapeño green, both salty and hot. You know the drill. What you don’t expect is a quick-pickled escabeche of cucumber, onion and chile manzano to give your tacos a fresh dress-out.
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)