We all have that “tacos are life” friend who could throw down on a taco plate anytime, anywhere. Whatever your taco philosophy, here’s a short list to get started on your taco journey through Austin!
For migas tacos that can’t be beat –Veracruz All Natural , 1704 E. Cesar Chavez.
Veracruz is no longer an under-the-radar gem—it consistently lands on “best of” lists, and going for brunch on a weekend might involve standing in line. But you shouldn’t let that stop you from experiencing their migas breakfast taco, a perfect balance of crunched-up tortilla chips, onions, tomato, cilantro, and fluffy egg, topped with cheese and avocado. If you’re more in the mood for lunch, try the tilapia taco with mango pico, or the chicken mole with queso fresco. Veracruz also has a brick & mortar store in Round Rock and a trailer at Radio Coffee & Beer in south Austin.
For late-night al pastor on Riverside – Rosita’s Al Pastor, El Taquito ,1911 and1713 E. Riverside Drive.
Rosita’s does al pastor the right way, carved straight off the trompo (vertical rotisserie), and served either as a classic street taco, or “gringa style” with melted queso blanco. Ask for pineapple to be added to your tacos. El Taquito is a small, brightly-painted restaurant with a killer salsa bar, great pastor tacos, and daily happy hours. Both are open late for your after-bar taco crawl. You owe it to yourself to find out which one is the best.
For a little swank with your tacos – Grizzelda’s , 105 Tillery St.
Grizzelda’s is a brand-new, upscale Mexican restaurant created by the team behind Jacoby’s Restaurant & Mercantile. Grizzelda’s menu focuses on Tex-Mex and Central Mexican flavors, served in a bright, eclectic space with colorful artwork. Taco choices include pork cheek pibil, short rib with cilantro-caper mojo, and eggplant with mushroom and white bean. Pair them with one of the restaurant’s many creative cocktails, and dine outside on the gorgeous patio—it’s one of Austin’s best.
For legit street tacos on the east side – Las Trancas, 1210 E. Cesar Chavez
This taco truck has a loyal following of die-hard fans who line up for perfect, tiny street tacos in the Mexico City style. The carne asada, pollo, and pastor are all excellent, but to get the full experience, branch out and try the tripas (beef tripe), cabeza (beef cheek), or buche (pork stomach) tacos—served on corn tortillas with onion, cilantro, and lime. Top it all off with the “VIP salsa” – a creamy, spicy jalapeno concoction that you may try to drink straight out of the cup.
For brisket tacos, that heavenly hybrid – Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ , 7812 Brodie Lane
No one should be forced to choose between the two best types of food on the planet, tacos and BBQ. At Valentina’s, you don’t have to. The brisket here is phenomenal, mesquite-smoked for hours and incredibly tender. The brisket taco is served on homemade flour tortillas with guacamole and tomato-serrano salsa. If you arrive at the food truck before 11:00 AM, you can order the Real Deal Holyfield, a breakfast taco with brisket, fried egg, potatoes, refried beans, and bacon.
For creative vegetarian tacos – Papalote Taco House, 2803 S. Lamar Blvd.
Papalote’s menu has plenty of meat offerings, but what stands out are the delicious vegetarian options. Load up on: the tortas de coliflor taco, which has cauliflower cakes covered in their house sauces and queso fresco; the rajas y hongos taco, with poblano peppers, zucchini, and mushrooms; the aguacate con queso, with fried avocado, black beans, cabbage, and queso fresco; or the breakfast taco with cactus, squash, and poblano.
For customizable Korean Tacos – Chi’Lantro, Multiple locations
Chi’Lantro got its start as a beloved food truck and branched out to several brick & mortar locations. The taco-building process is fun—start with either Korean BBQ pork, chicken, tofu, or beef, then select from a list of toppings such as kimchi, pickled veggies, tortilla strips, and guacamole, and finally pick a sauce such as salsa verde, spicy ranch, carrot-ginger, or sesame. The location at the Domain has the most extensive list of toppings, add-ons, and sauces.
For DIY chicken tacos – El Pollo Regio, Multiple locations
The intoxicating smell of char-grilled chicken is your first clue—there’s something seriously good happening here. This place specializes in pollo asado al carbon, chicken marinated in a secret house blend of spices and grilled over a charcoal flame. The resulting meat is tender on the inside and perfectly charred on the outside. For less than 20 bucks, you’ll get an entire chicken, a grilled onion, a stack of corn tortillas, a side of rice, a side of charro beans, some lime wedges, and two kinds of salsa. Order extra rice, beans, and tortillas to make even more tacos, or eat the leftover chicken cold the next day!