Austin: Local Eats [part 1]

As you know, because I never stop talking about it, I moved to Austin, TX about a month ago. It was really difficult to leave home, and I get homesick  for NoVA quite a bit–especially lately. But thank god I have some comforts of home still around. But let’s not dwell on the past. Let’s not discount all the great things this city has to offer!

love living in Austin. The city feels young and fresh, constantly on the move! But it doesn’t feel crowded and chaotic like New York can. I live way out in the suburbs too, in South Austin. So, I just close enough that everything feels accessible, but far enough to be removed from all the action when I want that. Major bonus: there’s so much great food here it’s not even funny! Austin has a saying: Keep it local. I looovveeee that! Because, as you know, I’m all about local food. So, I present the first installment of Austin: Local Eats. And this edition is all about tacos!

I didn’t eat a lot of tacos at home. Just read my old Local Eats posts and you’ll see that there aren’t that many recommendations for taco places. But the thing is, I really do love tacos! Luckily, there’s a lot of them here in Austin. There are so many that it’s kind of overwhelming. Thus, I figured what better way to kick off the Austin eats than to name some of my favorite choices! Let’s have at it then.

1. Curra’s Grill

Austin: Local Eats [part 1] // Serve With Rice

The very first week I lived here, I asked my roommates where to go for great food. One of them took me to Curra’s almost immediately. That day I ordered the Tacos Cancun–shrimp tacos. I love me some shrimp, and these promised jumbo Gulf-sized ones, sauteed with green bells peppers, and guajillo, and pineapple. I had to google guajillo. Turns out it’s a chili used to make salsas and other sauces that has a sweet but hot finish. 

Sounded good to me so I thought I’d give it a shot. What a great decision that was! The shrimp wasn’t as jumbo as I’d hoped for–then again, I imagined super jumbo, so that might be my fault. But the guajillo’s heat combined with the pineapple’s tartness turned out to be a great combination. It’s by far my favorite thing I’ve ordered there–and I’ve been back quite a few times. If you’re not into seafood, I’d also recommend the tacos al carbon. They weren’t the best I’ve ever had, but they were damn good.

Bonus: If you go here, get chips and salsa and a margarita. The chips are so airy and light. They’re crispy as hell, and some of the best I’ve had in Austin so far. I could honestly eat an entire basket myself. The salsa is a bit spicy, but you’ll be eating so many chips you won’t even notice. My roommate has also made her way through their frozen margs list and all of them have been delicious! They’re huge so you’ll only really need one for a good time.

2. Chi’lantro

Austin: Local Eats [part 1] // Serve With Rice

Recently I got an app called Favor. I heard about Favor from my roomies who all (but one) happen to work in the food service business. Favor is a Texas-located delivery service. Their slogan is personalized service with a smile. They deliver anything–within reason–and it’s all done through the app. Now, I’ve discovered a lot of local food because of Favor. That’s my favorite thing about it so far. 

One of my first Favor experiences was with a place called Chi’lantro–a fusion of Korean BBQ and Mexican flavors. The first thing I tried was their tacos. How it works is you go in and pick a base (bowl, salad, burger, etc.) and then add your toppings/fillings. So, I went for a next-level breakfast taco. I got 2 soy-glazed chicken tacos with fried egg, bacon, and cheese. So far, there hasn’t been a better breakfast taco! The chicken has clear Korean influence, the customizable experience is everything, and this breakfast tacos are something I dream about now!

Other things you MUST have: Their queso. THE best queso I’ve had so far.

3. Taco Joint

Austin: Local Eats [part 1] // Serve With Rice

The first time I visited Austin way back this past spring, my brother told me I had to try his favorite taco place, Taco Joint on E Riverside. We were headed to the lake that day, which is nearby, so we thought we’d stop by. For whatever reason, it was closed that day. And I was truly disappointed. So when I moved here, I had it in the back of my mind. Y’all I’m glad to report that not only have I had Taco Joint now, it’s easily one of my go-to taco joints!

Is it the most flavorful taco I’ve ever had? No. But that’s its beauty. The flavors are so simple that they’re pure. They are classic taco flavors. Oh, and they’re absolutely delicious! When I went in for the first time I asked the cashier what they thought I should have. They said everyone loves our street tacos. So, I said that! The street taco is grilled sirloin, onion, avocado, cilantro and queso–like I said, classic. I’m not usually a huge avocado person, but it adds exactly the amount of creaminess you need here. The sirloin is grilled to perfection, and the onions add just enough touch of spice. You can’t go wrong with this place! I haven’t so far.

Another favorite? The chicken fajita taco.

4. Serranos Tex-Mex

Austin: Local Eats [part 1] // Serve With Rice

The first time I ever used Favor I wanted (surprise, surprise) tacos. I knew that Favor discouraged people from ordering more than two miles away from their homes. So, I looked for something nearby. That’s when I found Serranos. I didn’t have any expectations; I truly just wanted tacos. And they became my favorite tacos ever.  So much so, that I have them at least every other week–at least!

I’ve ordered two of their tacos: the tacos al pastor and the tacos locos. Both were fantastic, but the tacos al pastor are by far my taco of choice! The description on the menu says, “slow-roasted achiote-roasted pork, fire grilled pineapple, red onions, cilantro, and salsa picosa.” All of those flavors come through so clearly with every. Single. Bite. But the thing that really pushes this taco over the edge is the perfect balance between flavor and heat. These babies are spicy! And the spice isn’t overwhelming. It’s just enough to complement every bit of flavor–and there’s a lot of that too.

It’s the kind of flavor and overwhelming deliciousness that keeps me coming back for more. Serranos has locations all over Austin, so do yourself a favor and get your butt to one of them now!

Austin: Local Eats [part 1] // Serve With Rice

I should note that most of these places are not strictly taco places. Many of them are just places that have really, really great tacos! So while you’re there try out some of their other food, too. In the meantime, I’ll keep my eye out for more great Austin: Local Eats! Until then…

What’s your favorite taco place that I should try next?