The pleasures of an Old El Paso Taco Dinner kit to a young palate are manifold.
Growing up in Eastern Kentucky, Mexican night meant a trip to the scant Hispanic foods section at the local Kroger. Winding through the aisles of plenitude, I’d often beg my mom to let me take a crack at a rotisserie chicken from the excellent deli or perhaps spend some of my allowance on taco flavor Doritos.
If I’d been on my best behavior of late, she’d allow me the singular pleasure of a trip to the nearby Lost World Arcade to have a go at the Robotron machine.
Nowadays, crispy tacos are only on my radar every so often. They are still delicious but most of my Mexican food fantasies concern themselves with barbacoa, buche or perhaps carnitas.
But recently I assigned myself the task of finding the best crispy taco in Austin, Texas. After all, we’re only three hours from Mexico where the good citizens eat their very own version called tacos dorados, golden tacos if you will.
The typical construction of a crispy taco involves a hard-fried, yellow corn shell, a ladle of taco meat, and subsequent garnishes of lettuce, tomatoes and yellow cheese. Now and again, a particularly enterprising taquera will put sour cream on your taco. Just nod and dig in as the counterplay between the meat and dairy can be sublime.
If anybody knows how to make a good crispy taco it should be the folks at Tamale House East where the restaurant’s lineage can be traced all the way back to 1958 when the original restaurant opened on Congress Avenue.
The taco arrives hot as a firecracker with steam billowing off the plate. The carne molida, the most important ingredient, is well-seasoned, redolent of simmered tomato, and in need of no salsa whatever. The lettuce is fresh, and the tomatoes, as is typical in the Winter, completely devoid of flavor.
At .95 cents this taco represents a serious value in the Austin of 2014. Sub one dollar tacos have vanished with the Texas wind. In the high-rent district of East 6th Street it’s almost unfathomable that a brick and mortar restaurant has such an exotic item as this.
1707 E 6th St
Austin, TX 78702
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