500 Tacos: Taqueria Lopez
An Austin taco a day for 2015 — and then some
2008 Teri Road, Austin (map), 512-619-3798
Hours: 6am-5pm Mon-Sat; 7am-2pm Sun
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 11.14.15
I found out about Taqueria Lopez from a co-worker who — before he crewed for Slipknot and Slayer — worked at one of the industrial shops around this blue-collar part of Southeast Austin. He didn’t like the little red trailer for its atmosphere, unless you count a chain-link fence topped with barbed wire next to a Citgo station with no place to sit as atmosphere. (Come to think of it, sounds like a Slipknot show.) He liked it for tacos that were cheap and hot, and for Mexican Cokes without the hipster markup from the Metro Mart next door.
The taco: Al pastor
In this hybrid mashup of carnitas and pastor, roasted pork is left mostly in big pieces with shaggy edges, backed up by a tangle of fibers like Carolina pulled pork. There’s no true sign of pastor spicing, just a veneer of salt and vague red dust. It’s an ALPINO at best: Al Pastor in Name Only. Just a decent pork taco for $1.75.
► More tacos: Three beef tacos at least keep up appearances for their individual styles. Picadillo is glossy ground beef, even if that unseasoned beef tastes like a hamburger left in the warming bin too long. Grilled onions add a sweet vigor to chewy, indeterminate strips of seared beef for a filling beef fajita taco. And barbacoa holds up well in this humble trailer kitchen, with a clean, fatty cheek-meat flavor to go with its velveteen texture. ($1.75 each)
► Tortillas: Small, strong flour and doubled-up white corn from a bag, each given a minute to soak up heat and grease from the flat-top.
► Salsa: Just a good roasted tomatillo salsa with onions, cilantro and dried chile.
► Breakfast tacos: Taqueria Lopez sells breakfast tacos until 11 a.m. ($1.50 for two ingredients)
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)