Business is slow today for the discount funeral wreath man who sets up shop on a grassy knob alongside Montopolis on the weekends. I wonder if he sits there fretting “go ahead and die already, I gotta eat”?
El Taco Rico is my favorite Mexican restaurant in Austin. I’ve referred to it as such in spite of the fact that it’s a tiny, timeworn trailer with a folding table under the overhang of a grizzled laundry mat for seating.
I eat lots of tacos in Austin each week and this is my primary source of intense deliciousness.
Montopolis feels good. The air smells flowery, the streets are all abustle and the Autumn light is starting to get that orange-y glow that makes Ray Bradbury reading this time of year essential.
Walking up to the window my timing is perfect as a beefy Mexican cat is being served a steaming bowl of Menudo. The aroma of this delicious dish combined with some very aromatic bar soap the man has used in the shower this morning makes for a powerful combination.
I stay focused by looking at the menu which I know by heart: Enchiladas, Flautas, Quesadillas, Tostadas, Sopes….all the Mexican you could ever dream of wanting, yet I almost always get the tacos.
Yolanda and Araceli flat bring their A-game when it comes to this simple dish.
Barbacoa is the finest meat on the menu, on par with La Monita for finest in town. While I doubt they wrestle the head of the steer out of the good, Texas earth each morning, it certainly tastes like they have.
The meat has been carefully shredded with little crispy bits mixed in with pure, tiny lobes of fat. It typically comes with chopped white onion and cilantro. Once the ceremonial dousing of fresh squeezed lime and salsa occurs you’re in the rarified air of true, deep Mexico cuisine. This is the kind of food you might’ve eaten a 1000 years ago in the Hidalgo region.
The corn tortillas are as fine as any you will ever put in your mouth. My guess is love is the main ingredient. These tiny Latin girls are putting their heart in their food.
I rode all over town on the trail of the best barbacoa I could find and I found it deep in the heart of the Montopolis neighborhood in Southeast Austin.
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
Editors Note: Parts of this article were appended from an old piece I wrote for Chowhound