Is there a more perfect meal than a taco? The miracle called taco is versatile (six types of protein, five types of cheese, six types of bonus fixings, four types of salsa, and two types of tortillas = 600 possible taco combinations), healthy (if you chose carefully), portable (if you chose carefully), and fast, all contained on a halo of flour or corn (or, if you use Siete Family Food‘s wares, almond, cassava, cashew, and chickpea). Fortunately, Allandale is blessed with many of the best tacos in Austin, including three of my favorites: the Otto at Tacodeli, the Trailer Park at Torchy’s, and the Pollo Pirata at Dos Batos. So let’s go on a south-to-north taco tour of Burnet and Anderson!
Although technically in Rosedale, I hereby claim the original Taco Shack for Allandale. This Shack is conveniently located for those of us who work downtown with an easy-off-easy-on location geared toward getting tacos in your hands quickly. My fave taco of theirs, regardless of the sea surface temperature status in the equatorial Pacific, is the El Niño (beans, chorizo, cheese, and jalapeños; “Can your stomach weather the storm?”).
Heading north down Burnet you will find the absolutely fabulous Fork and Taco (sadly closed). The hi-brow Lo-Burn fusion tacos here are not only delicious, but are stunning works of art carefully concocted by a trained chef with all-natural and, where possible, local ingredients. I recommend the Pollo Pastor (chicken, grilled pineapple, onion, cilantro, chichen shin) and, for brunch on the weekends, the Chilequiles (chips, fried egg, pickled onion, queso fresco, Monterey jack, and tomatillo).
what’s the deal? upscale chef’d up tacos (ahead of their time)
overall: **** (food****; drink**; atmosphere**; service***; instagrammability****)
I fondly recall my first visit to Torchy’s Tacos, back when the Torch only burned at a trailer on South First. After a few bites, I blissfully exclaimed to my co-eaters: “Damn, that’s a good taco!” And indeed, as their logo now proclaims, those tacos are damn good. The Torchy’s in our neighborhood thankfully brings all that goodness to our side of town. All of their tacos are deliciously awesome, including the monthly specials, but my fave is the Trailer Park (fried chicken, green chiles, lettuce, pico de gallo, cheese, and poblano sauce; get it “trashy”, which healthily subs the lettuce with queso) with the Dirty Sanchez (scrambled eggs, fried poblano chile, guacamole, escabeche carrots, shredded cheese, poblano sauce) coming in a close second.
The Shell Station at 5302 Burnet hosts a small trailer called Taco Compadres that serves up fresh (made while you wait) Mexican style street tacos that are quite good. My fave is the migas, fresh and hot for temp and tongue on corn or flour.
web&where: interwebs; 5302 burnet road; (512) 323-2426
what’s the deal? dirt cheap (but delicious) Mexican street tacos; trailer
overall: ** (food**; drink*; atmosphere*; service**; instagrammability*)
Taco Flats is a relative newcomer to the area that begs the question: Is it a bar that serves tacos or a taco joint that serves bar? Regardless, don’t let the bar-ness keep you away from tasting their wares, because their tacos are definitely not afterthoughts. With more than a dozen choices (including barbacoa, shrimp, and fish), my favorite is El Hippie (grilled jack cheese, refried black beans, guacamole, onion, and house pickled escabeche) combined with a jalapeño infused mixed drink.
Taqueria Guadalajara Arandas No. 3 serves up more traditional taco fare. Their affordable, old-skool tacos include no more than “two things” with the option of adding more, but the goodness is in the simpleness. My fave is the chorizo and refried bean taco and the chicken taco (chicken, lettuce, and tomato).
web&where: 6534 burnet road
what’s the deal? lo-fi Mexican-style tacos; fast casual
overall: ** (food**; drink*; atmosphere*; service**; instagrammability**)
Another recent addition to the neighborhood is the Austin favorite, Tacodeli. The tacos choices here are broad, from vegan to vegetarian to brisket. They also sling one of my top three favorite tacos in town, The Otto (refried black beans, bacon, avocado, and jack cheese). Why o why isn’t this place open for dinner?!?!
I hadn’t eaten or even heard of Dos Batos Woodfired Tacos until we moved to Allandale, and now those smoky tacos are among my favorites. As the name says, these are woodfired tacos (mesquite; you know it when you walk in) inspired by Monterrey street food, and they are unbelievably good. Be sure to try the Pollo Hybrid (skinless chicken, pollo asado, mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, and olive oil) topped with their yummy warm salsa. Be forewarned: these tacos are addicting.
Not-in-the-hood-but-nearby-and-too-momentous-not-to-mention: Egypt has the pyramids, India has the Taj Mahal, England has Stonehenge, but Austin has Donut Taco Palace III (now closed but there are other locations in town). You read that right: Donut. Taco. Palace. As you might expect, the Palace serves up tacos and donuts (including donuts in the shape of the Longhorn hand sign). As you might hope, there is, indeed, a taco-donut hybrid ($4), and it is brilliantly divine. Instead of a standard flour tortilla, there’s a think “tortilla” made out of unsugared puffy donut dough with your choice of ample breakfasty filling. Trust me: you will tell your grandkids about this taco!
I wrote this review for the Allandale Neighbor back in 2015.
– meh [think twice]
* OK [it’ll get the job done]
** good [solid neighborhood joint]
*** damn good [we’ll definitely be back]
**** yippity-yikes that was amazeballs [fantastic; one of the best]
***** holy sh!t [transcendental; best of the best]