500 Tacos: Taqueria Morales
A taco a day for 2015 — and then some
1415 W. William Cannon Drive in the Patriot Hand Wash parking lot (map), 512-906-4933
Hours: 7am-10pm Mon-Thu; 7am-11pm Fri-Sat; 7am-4pm Sun
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 05.27.15
On the day after the Memorial Day flood, two things were happening at Taqueria Morales. The first thing is that that the mechanic sitting across from me said the words, “The guy from Bastrop didn’t even come in. Their dam busted out there.” The second thing is that, come hell or high water — or a close view of both — this little orange trailer was open from sunrise til past dusk, serving the nearby auto repair shop, the carwash guys and anybody else coming out the morning after.
Taco A: Al pastor
There’s a picture of a trompo on the trailer’s menu, and so I asked, “Tienes un trompo para el pastor?” Which means, I think, “Do you have a trompo for al pastor?” Or possibly, “Is your horn section in the pasture?” Either way, the answer was “si,” although a peek inside the trailer suggested otherwise. Is the pork possibly slow-roasted on a rotisserie off-site and finished off at the trailer? From the taste and texture, it could have been, with pork in tender ribbons and curls, with pieces of pineapple setting off the low spark of the red adobo spice. Fire up the horn section. ($2)
Taco B: Suadero
This series is an education, if nothing else. In more than 150 taqueria visits so far, “suadero” has been a catchall term for brisket by people who should know better. It took Taqueria Morales to set the record straight. Suadero is cut from lower down on the animal; beef belly, if you like. As such, it’s loose, fatty meat that fries crisp at the edges like bacon, with striations of fat and lean for flavor like a breaded beef rib without the carnivoral CrossFit of labored chewing. ($2)
Taco C: Tripas
Taqueria Morales meets and masters the two key tests of tripas: clean flavor and proper texture. You get the deep, savory blush of offal without the attendant GI funk, and you get a good balance of grill-crisped edges and firm calamari bounce without the bubble-gum afterparty. ($2.50)
► Tortillas: They buy their flour tortillas from someone else, but Taqueria Morales makes its own thick, chewy corn tortillas.
► Barbacoa and breakfast: This barbacoa is long, lean and stringy, not the ideal description for a commodity that’s at its best when stocky, fatty and chipped ($2). The trailer’s basic bean and egg taco is everything it should be: fresh, somewhere between hard fried and scrambled and held together with the salty earthen spackle of refritos ($1.75).
► Salsa: The emulsified jalapeño green salsa is like catching tears in a bottle. Tears of joy for seekers of pain, tears of pain for seekers of joy. I’m painting the keyboard with oil from the chile de arbol red as I type, but enjoying its twang of tomatillo and sweet red pepper flakes.
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)