Restaurant Review: Restaurant Review

Tacos your abuela would be proud of

Tortilleria Rio Grande #2

500 W. William Cannon Drive, 512/326-1341
Restaurant Review
Photo by John Anderson

Tortilleria Rio Grande No. 2

500 W. William Cannon #402, 326-1341
Monday-Saturday, 6am-7pm; Sunday, 6am-5pm

I recently challenged myself to find the best taco in Austin. I sampled dozens of tacos in a quest to find the one. To my dismay, I realized I am a profligate taco addict; I never could commit my love to just one.

However, in this process I stumbled on this gem of a cafe tucked away in South Austin. First impressions are deceiving: The banal storefront in a nondescript strip center is nothing special. Inside, dingy tile floors, white walls, institutional tables, and a pair of refrigerators fill a space that bespeaks function over form. Tortilleria Rio Grande is first and foremost a tortilla factory. Corn and flour tortillas come out fresh in the mornings and evenings as customers line up to take them home – along with some of the best chips and salsas to be found anywhere.

Almost as an afterthought, the owners of this tortilleria added a menu of tacos, gorditas, and platos especiales. Talk about authentic: This place is a slice of rural Mexico.

I am completely hooked on the pork and nopales taco stewed in blood-red chile sauce ($1.50). I love the siren simplicity of the poblano and cheese taco, topped with fiery, roasted chile salsa ($1.50). The cheese chile relleno ($6) is minimalism itself. No sauces cover it, but the light egg batter is spongy and crisp. The plate comes with rice and refried beans the way I like them – that is, thick and lardy, not like the tasteless soup at many restaurants. On one occasion, the kitchen offered a special dish of nopales stewed with onions and tomatoes ($6). It was the kind of dish you'd find in your abuela's kitchen – bursting with matronly love. Who knew cactus could be so tasty?

There's a Tortilleria Rio Grande No. 1 located on Braker Lane, but I admit I have not yet tried that location. If it's anywhere near as good as the food at TRG No. 2, you cannot lose by going.

Sign up for the Chronicle Cooking newsletter

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

If you want to submit a recipe, send it to food@austinchronicle.com

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Food Reviews
Tibetan Dumplings Shine at Yak & Yeti in Cedar Park
Tibetan Dumplings Shine at Yak & Yeti in Cedar Park
Dishes for sharing (or not) at this tiny Nepalese restaurant

Melanie Haupt, Feb. 14, 2020

The Meteor Turns a Convenience Store Into a Neighborhood Hang for a New South Congress
The Meteor Turns a Convenience Store Into a Neighborhood Hang for a New South Congress
Before and after noon, diners find craveable carbs and chill vibes

Melanie Haupt, Jan. 31, 2020

More by Rachel Feit
Kitchen Ghosts
Kitchen Ghosts
Unearthing Austin's culinary history: Schneider Beer Vaults

May 20, 2016

Walking the Fine-Dining Line
Walking the Fine-Dining Line
How much is too much for Austin diners?

May 6, 2016

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Tortilleria Rio Grande #2, tacos, Mexican

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle