500 Tacos: Tortilleria La Sabrocita

An Austin taco a day for 2015 — and then some
Tortilleria La Sabrocita
850 E Rundberg Lane, Austin (map), 512-833-9608, www.tortillerialasabrocita.com
Hours: 6am-8pm Sun-Thu; 6am-9pm Fri-Sat
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 10.13.15
With its taco plate lunch special, attached tortilleria and freshly fried tortilla chips, La Sabrocita bears a striking resemblance to Tortilleria El Taquito on North Lamar. And not by coincidence; they’re sister operations. But the little differences between kitchens and the needs of their clientele make each worth exploring. A key difference on East Rundberg: It’s table service, with chips and sauce and an actual printed menu.
Taco A: Maciza de res
The menu translates this as “leg beef,” but it’s a term generally applied to most any of the animal’s sturdy, hardworking muscles from the brisket down through the shanks. The best beef shank I’ve eaten was smoked by Evan LeRoy of Freedmen’s for last year’s Carnivore’s Ball. It was tender but sturdy, in long fibers that absorbed smoke stubbornly but deeply. This taco reminds me of that, missing only the barbecue bouquet. More flavor than brisket, but less savory braise than deshebrada. ($1.65 corn/$1.89 flour)
Taco B: Chicharron guisada
This taco stretches the idea of chicharrones beyond its rubbery pork rind reputation. There’s so much lean, fibered pork attached to this luscious fatcap that it’s as much carnitas as it is stewed pigskin. But it’s the stewing that makes the difference, bringing the flavor of fat and pot liquor to the arid austerity of carnitas. ($1.65 corn/$1.89 flour)
 Tortillas: Both the wide, flat flour tortillas and air-pocketed, doubled-up white corn are made at the tortilleria. They’re not handmade, but they’re not half-bad.
 Salsa: There’s a solid taco-shop trinity of hot, creamy jalapeño, crisp tomato-and-onion salsa fresca and flinty-hot chile de arbol. But the killer salsa here is a chunky roasted tomato that glows sweet and orange, with skins and seeds and garlic, ready to take on the shop’s tile-roof basket of freshly fried corn tortilla chips.
 Taco plate: During lunch on weekdays, you get three tacos, rice, beans and a canned drink for $5.99. The same deal without a drink is $5.49 the rest of the day. A good value for my trio of 1) short-fibered, collagenous, mild beef cheek called cachete, 2) lush, tender borrego — roasted lamb, even with a sloppy patch of silverskin through the middle — and 3) a salty confetti of adobo-marinated al pastor.
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)