Celebrate National Taco Day in Austin

A taco for every taste to help you celebrate this special day

We’re not here to assume that any of our readers need an excuse to eat tacos. But just in case you’re in need of a reminder of one of our great city’s finest contributions to culinary excellence, National Taco Day arrives this Thursday, October 4.

It’s the perfect time to celebrate the local food scene’s many heartbreakingly delicious contributions to the art of the taco, both traditional and innovative. So without further ado, here are our current top 10 favorite tacos in Austin (in an ever-evolving list). See something we missed? A delicious suggestion or glaring gap in our knowledge? Please, we beg you, debate in the comments. We want to hear all about your favorite spots.

One of Joe's Bakery's creations (Photo by John Anderson)

For the traditionalist: Joe’s Bakery

There might be more adventurous options in town, but there are few things more comforting than spending a morning lingering over bottomless coffee and a couple of bean and bacon tacos at the Joe’s counter. Their kind waitresses and delicious migas have healing properties that will cure anything from a broken heart to a hangover.

For the ethical consumer: Cool Beans

Everything is all natural, organic, locally sourced, and plant-based at this cute little food truck, parked just outside of Spiderhouse Cafe. But just because it’s ethical doesn’t mean it’s not tasty! Try the Outkast, where portobello mushroom strips stand in for the beef in fajitas, or the Warrior, with housemade chorizo, potatoes, and pickled red onion.

For the fancy friend: ATX Cocina

We all have one of ‘em – that friend who’s too good for food trucks. But why should their snobbery lead them to missing out on one of the world’s most delicious food items? Ease them in with a trip to ATX Cocina, where they can sip on bespoke mezcal cocktails and nibble delicately on duck carnitas with citrus mojo and cilantro salad. Hey, it’s practically confit!

For the taconista on a budget: Las Trancas Taco Stand

At just $2 a pop, the delicious tacos at Las Trancas will fill your belly without emptying your wallet. We’re particularly fond of the carnitas, but the fan-favorite here is the beef cheek, stewed slow to tender perfection and topped with crispy onions and cilantro.

The Kurry Takos truck (Photo by John Anderson)

For the latitudinarian: Kurry Takos

There’s a lot of great Indian food in Austin, especially up north. And as you can tell by this list, there sure as hell are a lot of great tacos. The visionaries at Kurry Takos took a leap and combined these two great cuisines to create something deliciously new. We’re huge fans of the grilled paneer, which combines the squeaky salty northern Indian cheese with coconut rice, jalapeño crema, red onions, cilantro, and their strangely addictive makhani sauce to delicious effect.

For the on-the go-snacker: Pollos Asados El Norteños

They advertise their chicken as the specialty of the house, but as you might guess from the billowing smoke and inevitable line of waiting minivans that line up outside this gas station on MLK, the good people of El Norteño can work their magic on anything over a wood fire. We’re particular fans of the el pastor, which, with their spicy housemade green sauce, will fill up your belly after you fill up your tank.

For the night owl (or early riser): Tyson’s Tacos

We find fewer things more reassuring than the knowledge that in our darkest hour, our moment of most extreme emotional and physical vulnerability, we will always be able to get a taco. And Tyson’s is here to provide that reassurance, slinging tacos 24/7, including the weird-but-it-works burnt ends taco, which combines the best part of the brisket with onion rings, pickled jalapeños, and Valentina creme.

For the GF Goddess: Wilder Wood Restaurant & Bar

Much of the restaurant world has accommodated itself to the increasingly widespread gluten sensitivities of Austin’s population, but alas, tacos still remain elusive. One notable exception is the all gluten-free Wilder Wood, where Celiacs and the gluten intolerant can glut themselves on a full menu of street tacos, from barbacoa to grilled veggie, topped with their house made gf salsas.

For the fans of the hard shell: Elaine’s at Eastside Cafe

At first glance, the menu at Elaine’s may seem minimal, but that’s only because every item on the menu is constructed with such care. Their hard-shell pulled pork tacos are the perfect example, with a tortilla shell folded by hand and fried in small batches to crispy perfection.

For the sweet-toothed: Taco Sweets

Remember Choco Tacos? Of course you do. Who could forget that strangely compelling soggy cone filled with vanilla ice cream and dipped in chocolate sauce. The folks at Taco Sweets take that nostalgic treat to the next level with classic flavor combinations like peanut butter, cookies and cream, or s’more loaded into a housemade shell. You can even get an ice cream take on a breakfast taco, with Fruity Pebbles, Fruit Loops, Captain Crunch, and blue Funfetti syrup, with vanilla ice cream standing in for milk. All part of this complete breakfast of champions.

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