I was born and raised in Brownsville, Texas (technically Mexico). For those of you that don't know where that is, it's a small town located at the very tip of Texas, border with Mexico and right next to South Padre Island - as they like to say it's right "on the border, by the sea". Being the first generation in my family to be actually born and fully raised in the United States, my cultural levels could very well be set at 85% Mexican and 15% American- not to mention that about 90% of my family still lives in Mexico. The reason I am bringing that up is to give myself some credibility over knowing what a "real" Mexican street taco is :p
As much as I love Tex-Mex, it can get a little bit frustrating that I can't find a good, decent Mexican taco in town. Your chances of finding an authentic street taco in Texas are probably dead as soon as you pass McAllen, Texas. Don't get me wrong, Austin is filled with great tacos but they are Tex-Mex tacos (which is a whole entire different genre of food). It's not a bad thing, it's just different- good, but different. Below I have compiled a list of my favorite street tacos in Austin, to me they are the closest thing to authentic and original Mexican street tacos. My list is based on authenticity, tortilla texture and flavor, salsas and meats.
Here are the best street tacos in Austin, Texas:
Vaquero Taquero | 4301 Duval St, Austin, TX | www.vaquerotaquero.com
Miguel and Daniel Cobos, who are the owners of Vaquero Taquero, knew the struggle of finding an authentic Mexican street taco in Austin. Being from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico and living in South Texas (like me :)) they grew up eating the real thing. Vaquero Taquero transpired from the desire to bring more Mexican culture to the Austin community through culturally-enriched tacos- they are tacos from our heritage. They fulfill this idea by creating a friendly community-like environment and offering a taco menu that lists exactly the type of items you would see in a regular taco stand in Mexico. For starters, they grill their meats (just like in a "taqueria" in Mexico would, they actually have a TROMPO STAND, all of their tortillas are handmade (both flour and corn) and they also prepare all of their meats in-house. They have everything from bistec to nopales to al pastor (real al pastor), as well as other Mexican taco specialties such as Campechanas (which has al pastor, bistec and cheese inside a corn toritlla- this is my PERSONAL FAVORITE!), Gringas and other types of quesadillas with beef.
Vaquero Taquero takes custom orders for business and work events! Also, stay tuned because this month they are going to have an event in collaboration with DACA for deportation defense. A $20 contribution ticket will not only get you unlimited mix for micheladas, tacos and live music but also help to contribute to deportation defense. Be part of something good while eating tacos!
El Primo Tacos | 2011 S 1st St, Austin, TX | www.elprimomex.com/ElPrimo/Texas/Austin.aspx
This might be one of the teeniest little taco trucks in Austin but don't let that fool you! These tacos are legit- and fully loaded. El Primo carries all your favorite meat toppings- from barbacoa to carne asada to tripas and more. Plus- they also have breakfast tacos. Another reason why I love this place is because their salsas (verde and roja) are seriously delicious and hot! They are definitely one of the best taco trucks in Austin.
Casita Nicole Antojitos Mexicanos | 9618 Manchaca Rd, Austin, TX | 12030 N Lamar, Austin Tx
I came across this location from my friend's Instagram (he is in the culinary arts scene here in Austin and always finds the best little spots with amazing food). Casita Nicole Antojitos Mexicanos offers a variety of Mexican food entrees, however, they are most famous for their signature "Machete Taco". This taco, which is featured in the content above, is HUGE. Two or three people can easily share one of these machete tacos. This taco carries a corn tortilla (which is handmade and so incredibly delicious), melted cheese and your choice of two meats. I chose al pastor and bistec and loved it! If you don't want to drive all the way south to their Manchaca Road location, you can now drive to their second location in North Lamar (listed above). I definitely consider them one of the best tacos places in Austin!
FYI: .75 cent mini tacos will be sold all day during National Taco Day at their North Lamar location.
Papalote Taco House | Locations in South Congress, South Lamar and North Austin, Tx
Papalote Taco House definitely carries some of the best street tacos in Austin- I love their "guisos", which is the Mexican version of a stir-fried- except instead of rice it's a lot of seasonings, veggies and meat (so maybe more like beef stew?). Anyway, if you're Mexican or Hispanic, let me know in the comments below how you would best define a Mexican guiso. If you're going to Papalote, I would definitely get the "Alambres" taco on corn tortilla. It's a guisado made with beef, bacon, poblano peppers and other goodies. The flavors in this taco are so authentically-Mexican!
El Mariachi | 408 E Rundberg Ln, Austin, TX
I saved one of my ultimate favorites for last! Sorry for the crappy looking video I posted for them but they were closed these past couple of days when I tried visiting :( . I didn't want to let the lack of content keep me from sharing this location with you. The reason being that it is fucking amazing! When I say that they have the best service in town, that's an understatement. The owner, who carries a very interesting life story from being a famous Mexican luchador, is extremely attentive and nice. He always has a smile and tries his best to deliver the best service and make sure that you're getting treated extra nice. In addition, he carries the most authentic "soft beef" tacos I've tasted probably even in the entire United States. These "soft beef" tacos are called "cabeza", they are technically barbacoa tacos and that's about all you should know. Don't let the name scare you away from these tacos because if you do then you're seriously going to miss out on perhaps the best tacos in Austin. Go pay them a visit and let me know in the comments below what you think!
Please let me know in the comments below if you guys know of any other super authentic Mexican street tacos in Austin! Hope you get to visit some of these. Thanks!