When my son and daughter-in-law returned to Austin for the holidays recently, they had their priorities straight: They planned to eat as many different tacos at as many different places as possible during their 10-day visit. Their Tex-Mex cravings began soon after they moved to Columbus, Ohio, last July. And their obsession only intensified when they ordered fajitas at a local restaurant and the meat was served with pita bread!
But it was tacos that they missed the most, particularly the wealth of savory soft tacos they enjoyed while they lived in Austin. So it wasn't surprising that our first stop after I picked them up at the airport was Tacodeli, at Spyglass and Barton Skyway, near their former home in southwest Austin. It didn't take them long to decide what to order. My son, Clay, went for a Cowboy Taco, beef tenderloin, grilled vegetables, guacamole, and queso fresco atop a flour tortilla, and a Mojo Fish Taco, grilled tilapia and mojo-garlic sauce. My daughter-in-law, Whitney, settled for only one, the Heather, refried black beans, grilled queso, guacamole, lettuce, and tomato, plus a side of rice. I ordered two Adobados Tacos, adobo-marinated chicken with cilantro and onions. We claimed one of the picnic tables outside, and soon we were relishing our respective choices.
Even as we ate, they debated where they'd eat tacos next. The possibilities were tantalizing. Would it be Torchy's or Freebirds? They wanted to try some new places: Izzoz Tacos, Guero's Taco Bar, Nuevo Onda, but they didn't want to miss out on any of their old favorites. Whitney said that Austin should offer a taco tour for visitors, to make it easy for them to take in the top spots in one fell swoop.
I accompanied these two to Zocalo Cafe (TaquerÃa Fresca), on West Lynn, later that week, where I had some amazing Tacos de Carnitas (slow-cooked green chile chicken with pineapple pico de gallo and salsa verde), and they made it to several other taqueras, as well as a second trip to Tacodeli, without me. Yet, despite their best efforts, their taste for tacos was undiminished at the end of their visit. Good. Tacos are as good a ruse as any to keep them coming back to Texas for frequent visits.
How about you, readers? Anyone out there who's had occasion to miss Texas food? Or maybe you're a homesick Texan dreaming about certain dishes right now. Tell us what you miss the most.