Favorite Finds

Restaurants You Shouldn't Miss

Taco Xpress

2529-A S. Lamar, 444-0261

Mon, 7am-3pm; Tue-Fri, 7am-9pm

Sat, 8am-9pm; Sun, 9am-2pm

For the past couple of years, South Austin Taco Queen Maria Corbalan has operated one of the most popular, most affordable genuine Tex-Mex joints in the city, open daily for breakfast and lunch. It's a charmingly funky little place with counter service, a few inside tables, a small patio, and a continuously full parking lot. Maria's loyal customers requested longer hours and now she has obliged. As of March 1, Taco Xpress has newly expanded hours, a liquor license (plus the requisite margarita machine), and a patio lovingly decorated by local artist Michael Peschka. The great Tex-Mex menu and the friendly, Texas-style service remain the same.

The taco menu here has something for everyone. The tacos are delicious and easy on the wallet. Try the tacos al pastor, toothsome pieces of meat garnished with onions, cilantro, and lime or a mouth-watering order of veggie tacos stuffed with savory grilled vegetables. Migas will satisfy your breakfast cravings and carne guisado, a stew of tender beef tips in spicy gravy, is a good choice for lunch or dinner. Season everything with the fresh house hot sauce or sample the tangy chimichurri, a vinegar-based concoction from Maria's native Argentina. The fresh, homemade corn tortillas here are not to be missed. They are big and slightly sweet, tender as abuelita's kiss.

The selections of aguas frescas changes often, but we're partial to fruit flavors such as sandia (watermelon) and tamarindo (tamarind) and we recommend you sample the rice milkshake horchata if it's available. To complement the truly fine frozen margaritas, Maria has added a few appetizers such as nachos and chile con queso. We suggest you choose a table on the festively decorated patio and settle in with some chips, a bowl of the fiery fresh house salsa and a frosty frozen margarita. Bask in the glow of Maria's warm personal welcome while you anticipate a great little Tex-Mex meal.

The Best of Austin: Restaurants ballot is here! Nominations can be made now through Monday, August 22, at midnight. Vote now at vote.austinchronicle.com.

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