Anderson Lane in North Central Austin is a little down at the heels. Wheeling into a quick mart near La Casita to gather up a Topo Chico for later, shadowy figures just sort of melt into the background over near a dumpster.
Businesses all around the area are shuttering and the most lively retail is at the spanking new Wal Mart over near Burnet Road.
Meanwhile down at the nearby railroad tracks, La Casita has sat faithfully, vending scratch tacos and bowls of soup to workmen, Mexican food lovers and one imagines, the occasional hobo, for over 8 years now.
Somebody recently bought a bucket of paint and invested in the brightest light bulbs possible for the dining room but thankfully, didn’t change anything in the back of the house.
It’s still one of the better, under the radar Mexican restaurants in town.
This brutally cold, evenings’ visit finds the house nearly deserted at half past nine. The lone table consists of a woman having a nervous breakdown as two of her friends comfort her. At wits end, she finally just seats herself on the floor as her companions look anxiously about the room.
Maybe she saw the early show of “Enter The Void” at the nearby Alamo Drafthouse. Gaspar Noe’s movies can have that effect on people.
Circus with the bread at La Casita.
Of late I’ve become thick as the winter wool on a Shetland pony so I forego the chips and salsa and order a single taco; carne guisada on corn tortillas.
The tortilla is plainly homemade, rolled thin with slightly crispy edges and of a size ample enough to hold a good quarter pound of beef. The stewed meat is a triumph. It’s always tricky to cook the beef in guisada just enough to reach tenderness without causing it to disintegrate.
It’s a feat that La Casita’s cook has accomplished with ease. The meat is mildly flavored tasting of little more than cumin and onion which is fine. A nice simple stew of this sort goes down particularly well on a frigid evening. A proffered salsa is ignored. It may be fine but this taco needs no assistance, it’s delicious without it.
1519 W Anderson Lane
About the Stars