When food luminary John T. Edge came to Austin last year he had quite the agenda. He was writing a piece for the paper of record, New York Times on Austin’s burgeoning taco scene and was in town to do some serious eating.
One of the restaurants he visited was a run-down neighborhood joint on the lower east side of town; Porfirio’s.
In business since 1985 Porfirio’s is the sort of blink and you miss it spot that I’ve found immensely appealing since I was a kid. If it’s run down, out of the way, off the beaten path, only open for a handful of hours a week-then I’m entranced.
Unfortunately my carne guisada taco doesn’t measure up, flavor-wise to Porfirio’s undeniably shabby appeal.
My request for a homemade tortilla is met with a “we don’t make them”, my request for cilantro is met with “we don’t offer cilantro”, perhaps a first for a Mexican restaurant in Austin?
My taco has a good heft to it but the flavor is lackadaisical; the beef tips are tough, the tortilla, served singly is a low-grade commercial corn with little appeal. A tomatilla salsa is the highlight but that by itself is not noteworthy in a city filled with splendid versions.
I do like the room, it’s shabby and tiny seating perhaps a dozen diners But when the highlight of the meal is the fact that the restaurant looks like the sort of place where you could get a good, homestyle taco but then fails to deliver that taco, where does that leave the eater?
1512 Holly St
About the Stars:
4 **** Extraordinary, life changing
3 *** Excellent
2 * Very good
1 * Good
0 * Mediocre to Acceptable
Quality, price, service and ambiance are all taken into account when rating