500 Tacos: Taqueria Torres
An Austin taco a day for 2015 — and then some
1112 W. Koenig Lane in the Texaco lot, Austin (map)
Hours: 7am-10pm Mon-Fri; 7am-2pm Sat
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 10.12.15
I like that the big red Taqueria Torres van sits across the street from McCallum High School, because I’d like to believe it’s a way for seniors to learn some taqueria culture instead of just hitting McDonald’s when they leave campus for lunch. The two McCallum seniors at the table next to me said they come here almost every day. The food’s hot, the price is right and it beats another day of ketchup as a vegetable.
The taco: Deshebrada
The risk you take laying so much slow-cooked flavor into roast beef is sucking it dry in the process. Which is why this juicy, tender deshebrada is remarkable, with the deep, sweet chile heat of a South Texas Sunday roast. ($2)
► Al pastor: I’ve come to accept that almost nobody does true trompo pastor, but I’ve also become particular about grilled pastor, and Torres does a good job piling on an adobo marinade so thick it’s almost fuzzy. The big, weedy twang of annatto over well-cooked pork almost covers for the missing pineapple X-factor. Almost. ($2)
► Breakfast tacos: Here’s a migas taco that will turn me into a regular: A full-size flour tortilla filled with eggs, pico, chips and cheese, made to order for $1.75. Can’t say the same for papas y huevos, with waxy potatoes the color and flavor of cut-rate grill butter. ($1.75 each)
► Crispy, just because: After more than 280 taqueria visits, I’ve come to see that crispy tacos are a concession to gringo tastes. But three Spanish-speaking customers in front of me ordered crispy taco plates, so I acquiesced. But even the gringo in me didn’t care for these dry, white-meat chunks of chicken “fajita” in a pre-made shell. ($2)
► Tortillas: I’m inclined to take a taqueria at its word about handmade tortillas, and I believe that these willowy, scalloped-edge corn tortillas are made that way. But if these uniform, waxy, gummy flour tortillas are patted out by hand like I was told, those hands need a lot more practice.
► Salsa: Both red and green are like chunky salsas with all the chunks strained out, leaving mostly water and heat behind.
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)