I LOVE Austin! I LOVE TACOS! We go down to Austin at least once a year and although I know they also have great bbq and smoked meats, I try hard to stay on a strict taco diet while I am there and actually get a little grumpy when I have to eat a non-taco meal (a few exceptions, of course, such as my cupcake night and our friend Ruby’s famous buckwheat pancakes!). My taco count this year was 16!
Upon my arrival, Grant whisked me to one of his favorite new taco finds, Torchy’s! Torchy’s has three locations and I was lucky to visit two of their locations- the original one on 1st Avenue South, just south of Oltorf and the one in the trailer park dining establishment also on 1st, towards downtown. Their tacos are naughtier, less traditional, and a little more gourmet than I expected but really good. I had a fried chicken taco and a fish taco. We returned for breakfast with Derek the next day and I had two breakfast tacos which were delicious- one egg and one potato. Next time, I will try Ruby and Derek’s favorite, the Brush Fire which has jerk chicken and mango and is really spicy. My favorite indulgence there, however, was the Green Chili Queso dip! It was to die for. Usually when I eat queso, I can’t help but continually think about how I am most definitely eating some sort of fake cheese food but this queso was so delicious and layered with goodness that I had no food guilt or cheese concerns. I just knew it was DELICIOUS!
My Welcome to Austin lunch at Torchy’s…
One of our all-time favorite places for tacos in Austin is Maria’s Tacos Xpress on South Lamar.
We were first introduced to Maria’s during our very first trip to Austin in 2005 as we ate with our old friends Laura Reneke and Jen Lipton. At that time, Maria’s was a small place with dirt floors and it was surrounded by a trailer park. We knew instantly that we loved Maria. She is Argentenian and famous for her Chimichuri sauce (tons of cilantro with vinegar and chilis) which is one of the reasons Grant and I love this place (yet, one complaint we’ve heard about Maria’s food from friends is that it is too heavy on the cilantro so I guess it just depends on your taste). A few years back it was remodeled with materials from the old location and moved a block or so and is a little fancier now but has kept its charm. This year, we were fortunate to eat there twice. Once, I got veggie tacos (to help make up for the Torchy’s tacos earlier in the day) but splurged on a Mexitini- YUM! The second visit I had a fish taco and an avocado taco and bites of Grant’s al pastor taco.
Veggie Tacos & Mexitini…
Fish, al Pastor, and Avocado tacos…
Another favorite place for Taco’s that we discovered last year is Polvos on South 1st. We met our friends from Seattle, Cheryl and Kevin, there for breakfast on Saturday. It is always good.
One restaurant where we have always seemed to enjoy Margaritas in past trips but never ordered food is Guero’s in the thick of the South Congress crowds. We decided to finally eat there and it was so fresh and delicious. I had a shrimp taco and an al pastor. It wasn’t my favorite al pastor but really good and the shrimp was fantastic. They have amazing salsas, too, especially the green tomatillo salsa.
Just as last year, we met our friend from Nashville who lives in Austin now, Claire Small, over on the east side at one of her favorite diners, Cisco’s! . Last year I ordered a simple breakfast taco with eggs and maybe chorizo and it was good but I regretted not ordering Claire’s favorite, the Miggas Tacos. So this year, I had a Miggas Taco and it was one of my very favorite breakfast tacos. I think there is just enough diner grease thrown into the miggas for a little extra goodness! This place has history- I think the walls might actually talk.
On our last meal in Austin, we had lunch at Curra’s with Ruby, Jorge, and Teri Joyce. It was sunny and warm so we ate on the deck. I usually order margaritas on the rocks but was told by several people to try the avocado margarita which is frozen. It was so delicious- icy, creamy, smooth and not too sweet. I had to have more shrimp tacos so that is what I ordered. Everyone else had the al pastor so I was sure to taste them and they were great! I enjoyed their beans and Spanish rice, as well. We will for sure return to Curra’s!
An ever growing trend in Austin is restaurants in old Air Stream Trailers! They are all so cute. The Austin food scene is really happening. Here are photos from my two non-taco excursions…
Our friend and hostess, Ruby’s famous buckwheat pancakes…
We were there this trip because Grant had 4 music gigs with Derek Hoke during the SXSW Music Conference. While visiting during SXSW, however, we usually keep our musical explorations to the nonSXSW free day parties or stay true to the Texas music scene.
One of the things I love most about Texans is that when they hear good music, they dance!
One of my favorite little dive venues for local music is, Ginny’s Little Longhorns. We saw James Intveld and Dale Watson there on Saturday night.
On Sunday, we drove down to Gruene Hall , one of Texas’ oldest dance halls to see Bill Kirchen.
We were also able to see some of our friends (and Alejandro Escovedo!) play as with SXSW going on, everyone had multiple gigs all over town.
A good time was had by all! Now, back to my Nashville reality. More Tennessee food and music to soon follow.
Also the whole beans at Guero’s were the best on the trip in my opinion.
Oh, yes. I agree! It is hard to find whole beans which are my favorite.
Fabulous! Sixteen tacos — so impressive! And I agree whole beans are the best 🙂
i LOVE this!
seriously…next time i will be in your back pocket…i’m not kidding…eatin tacos, cupcakes and two steppin with fine texans. yay!
That would be great, Zana! I’d love to carry you around in my pocket and show you Austin from my point of view!
I loved reading this so much! Although it made me so hungry for tacos I about lit myself on fire. Thank you, lady!
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