Austin is an amazing city full of amazing places to eat. Sometimes all those eating options seem overwhelming and hard to find. Adventure eating, a concept first seen on Buzzfeed Video, works like a food map to the city. First, you pick a food, in this case tacos, then you ask a server or someone working at the restaurant where they would get said food, if they couldn’t get it at their restaurant, and go there.
Story by Collyn Burke
Photos by Kylee McKinney and Miranda Chiechi
Wrangling together a group of eager friends with me, we headed out in pursuit of the best traditional, Austin-style, and Tex-Mex tacos in Austin.
First stop: Papalote Taco House
A quick google search for “tacos near me” lead us to this quaint hole-in-the-wall featuring an array of traditional and new tacos. After a brief run-through of the menu we decided on the pollo a la parilla, pastor, tostada de ceviche, tinga de res and a couple of horchatas to rinse them down.
“The tortilla is very nice and fluffy,” freshman Angela Kang says about her tinga de res, a taco consisting of pulled beef stewed in chipotle, plantains, cabbage, queso fresco and avocado. “I like the fact that they’re very traditional.”
While Papalote was appreciated by some, others weren’t so taken by new flavors they weren’t expecting. “This wasn’t what I thought it would be,” says Raphael Jaquette in regards to his tostada de ceviche, a flat hard shelled taco alternative with a citrus-y fish and shrimp ceviche, cilantro, tomatoes, onions and avocado. “The fish is cold and clammy and saturated in lime.”
Overall, the mix of new and traditional flavors fused together with Austin-style tacos in a an intriguing and delightful way. Papalote is a great place for people looking for traditional tacos or Tex-Mex lovers looking to expand their palate.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 tacos
Second stop: El Chilito
After a quick chat with one of the Papalote employees, she recommended to us a few of her favorite taco places, among those were El Chilito. El Chilito had the Austin-esque vibes, similar to Papalote, with a colorful exterior (which made for a cute quick photo opp). Much like Papalote, El Chilito provided a variety of traditional flavors at a relatively cheap price.
While in line, the group settled on the barbacoa, tomatillo pork, camaron and pollo asado tacos. Settling into our seats, we watched through the windows as our tacos were quickly and expertly made. Unlike Papalote, the breakfast taco was favored over the traditional taco.
“This is honestly so good,” said Jaquette about his camaron, a taco with cornmeal dusted shrimp and valentina aioli slaw. “The shrimp is warm and scrumptious.”
El Chilito provided a warm and comforting setting, and a wonderfully crafted menu that allowed customers to choose any menu item as a taco, burrito or taco bowl.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 tacos
Third Stop: Fuzzy’s Taco Shop
As the food comas slowly settled in, we headed to our third and final location: Fuzzy’s Taco Shop. This recommendation was one we were all familiar with. The close-to-campus location and cheap prices gained a reputation of its own. Fuzzy’s interior was less flattering than the two previous locations, and offered the simplest taco, consisting of your chosen meat, tomatoes, cheese, and lettuce, making it probably the most Americanized taco on the list.
“It's nice because it’s just cheap and [close to campus],” Kang says. Fuzzy’s offers a variety of shredded meat with the same topping combination. Fuzzy’s is a good way for anyone to start exploring the intricate world of tacos. Though it may not reflect the values of the traditional taco, it is close to campus and has incredibly cheap prices.
Rating: 4 out of 5 tacos
Throughout the adventure, our group got to experience flavors both familiar and new to us. Going beyond the Tex-Mex we were all familiar with, we got to experience the real flavors Austin had to bring. Overall the adventure was fun, educational and of course, delicious.