When you think “BBQ in Lockhart,” you think Kreuz & Smitty’s - but a lot of people swear by Black’s. And when you think “taco trailer on South 1st St.,” you think Torchy’s - but there’s also Izzoz Tacos, which opened in December of 2008 in the same parking lot that the first Torchy’s used to be in. Izzoz has since moved its 42-foot trailer (bigger than some restaurant kitchens!) farther south, down to the corner of W. Monroe. But it’s all still one big taco neighborhood.
“A lot of people said ‘you’re f’in crazy - why would you open up a taco trailer right across from Torchy’s?,’” says Izzoz manager Adam Winters. “But we felt like we could compete. Other than the fried “avo,” [avocado], I don’t know if there’s too many similarities between our tacos and theirs.”
Now run by Winters and his wife, Jessica Galindo-Winters, Izzoz was originally started by Jessica’s brother John Galindo, a professional chef whose resume includes stints at Wimberley’s Cedar Grove Steakhouse, North at the Domain and Red House Pizzeria (he’s now working for Texas A&M, having recently relocated to College Station with his girlfriend).
The Galindo family’s history with food in Austin goes back 50 years. They ran a restaurant called Casa Loma at E. 7th St. and Lydia; more recently they had a place of the same name in Wimberley.
Izzoz’ version of “taco fusion” includes family Tex-Mex recipes as well as seafood and interior-style fillings, often with an upscale sauce (chipotle-sherry vinaigrette, cilantro-lime aioli). Its carnitas are available both on a taco (with avocado, pineapple and tomatillo salsa) or inside a torta, with slaw, pickled red onion, chipotle aioli and a side of excellent garlic fries.
But my favorite item on the menu is the Old School. In our admittedly wonderful world of pillowy flour breakfast tacos and handpressed corn tortillas, it’s easy to forget about the classic crispy taco shell. At best, it’s second-fiddle to the San Antonio puffy taco. At worst, it comes boxed from the supermarket.
What makes the Izzoz version sing is that its crispy taco starts life as as a soft taco. They all do, of course, but Izzoz makes them right on site, the shell still hot and just a little greasy. The corn tortilla itself actually comes from El Milagro (so, not homemade- but still very fresh and local). It gets griddled for a moment (if you put it in the oil cold they crack), shaped around a metal rack and dropped into the deep fryer. Atop the classic ground beef filling you get spinach rather than iceberg lettuce, plus real freshly shredded cheddar and some chopped tomato. Crunch!
Old School taco, $2.50. Pulled Pork Torta with Garlic Fries $6.50. Fried Avocado Taco, $3.25
- JASON COHEN