Restaurant Review: Restaurant Review
Tacos your abuela would be proud of
Reviewed by Rachel Feit, Fri., June 22, 2012
Tortilleria Rio Grande No. 2500 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
If you want to submit a recipe, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org