The State Of Carne Guisada In Austin Texas Part 1: Taco Cabana

My second visit to Taco Cabana in the last decade proves to be a fruitful one.

Hot on the heels of 7 part series’ on Carnitas, Barbacoa and Bean and Cheese Tacos; I’ve been pondering the next in-depth exploration of the taco world of Austin for the last week or so.

With all the glorious mom n pop taco stands in Austin there’s no need to eat chain tacos. That being said, it’s been a long time since I’ve eaten at Taco Cabana.

Since the 90’s.

But sometimes hunger and proximity figure large into your meal planning and such is the case tonight as I wheel into the Taco Cabana on South Lamar’s parking lot.

I have no grand designs. Mere hunger has driven me into this San Antonio based operations’ lair with little idea what’s in store for me.

The taco arrives on a scratch flour tortilla and it is hefty. Just north of $2 it feels as though it could be a decent value if the flavor is there.

It is.

The beef tips have been cooked “down” but still retain a certain amount of their original shape. Often times carne guisada has been cooked until it has dissolved into shreds, losing all sense of continuity as the chef strives for extreme tenderness.

While Taco Cabana’s version is assuredly tender, you can still distinguish the shape of the beef tips as they rest comfortably in a mild, brown gravy.

I inquire at the counter as to which of the tortillas [corn or flour] is homemade and receive the tipico San Antonio answer of flour.

San Antonio is the epicenter of flour tortilla production in the great state of Texas so this is to be expected.

Hot off the comal, filled with better than expected carne and with a floor show by a worker who’s so filled with enthusiasm at Michael Jackson on the radio that she breaks out some very respectable,  early Michael-like dance moves, replete with knee slapping and strangled, high pitch cries of pleasure.

A fine meal indeed.


211 S Lamar Blvd




About RL Reeves Jr

I'm a writer living and working in New Orleans, Louisiana.
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3 Responses to The State Of Carne Guisada In Austin Texas Part 1: Taco Cabana

  1. CarterB says:

    I haven’t been TC since college in Houston in the late 90s but I remember a (flour) tortilla making machine. Do they still have that? 12 piping hot flour tortillas was good with 3oz of queso at 3am…
    Speaking of homemade tortillas, I remembered your rant on the Texas Monthly Top 50 in Austin and how two didn’t make their own tortillas last night as we at at the S. Lamar El Meson (not bad but the green mole was not out of this world). Anyway, their tortillas are handmade (corn at least) and I recalled that even Chuy’s has someone making tortillas.

  2. RL Reeves Jr says:

    Hey Carter

    Thanks for the response. Yep, I remember El Naranjo Mobile and La Condesa, each of whom made the list of top 50 in the state and did so by using commercial tortillas from a plastic bag.


    How’s the carne guisada at el Meson?

  3. CarterB says:

    We didn’t try it. I had the verde mole, and my companion had the garlic shrimp. Both were good not great. Place was crowded for a Sunday night (we were headed to La Reyna but it was closed on Sunday evening apparently). I’d go  back but am in no hurry.

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