Some taquerias are so confident about the taco in which they specialize that it’s practically all they serve. Their menus offer just one flavor of taco—plus maybe a slight variation of that specialty—and sides. Discada, a nearly unadorned white trailer that opened in February 2018 on East Austin’s Rosewood Avenue, is one such specialist.
The trailer’s namesake taco is a beef-and-pork preparation cooked on a discada—a round, repurposed plow blade used like a wok. A taco style little known outside northern Mexico and the borderlands, discada can include a mix of meat products as varied as bacon, ham, sliced hot dogs, bistec, and various aromatics such as onions and peppers. It can be a loose assemblage of ingredients or a slowly simmered compact bundle. The recipe isn’t as important as the cooking vessel.
Discada co-owners Anthony Pratto and Xose Velasco, who have been friends since high school, describe their tacos as “cowboy-wok cooking.” But making discada at Discada isn’t quick work. Velasco estimates that their process takes between 30 and 35 hours from start to finish, including four hours to cut the meat for three discadas and 24 hours of marinading. The preparation is simmered down for four to six hours from eight layers of beef, pork, and vegetables, including onions, bell peppers, and chives.
The finished product is a tiny taco packed with juicy meat that’s the consistency of relish and carries pleasant peaks of saltiness and caramelization. The brightness of an optional yellow slice of pineapple brings a necessary, balancing sweet and acidic component, while also evoking Velasco’s native Mexico City. “The day that we opened, my brother was here trying the tacos. He said we hit every aspect of the flavor except the sweetness. We cut the fat with the habanero sauce. We have all these flavors but nothing really sweet,” he says. “I really like pineapple on my tacos al pastor. So we used pineapple.” To be clear, pineapple is not a common discada garnish.
Velasco is quick to point out that Discada’s tacos are a family recipe that he and Pratto tweaked through years of backyard cookouts during their youth in Houston and even while their trailer was in the works. “This is something that we used to do in my backyard for like my birthday, and everything like that, instead of carne asada,” he says. “Discada is not common in central Mexico at all, but my dad is from Chihuahua [state] in the north. This is his recipe. A lot of people like thicker cuts and add chicken and hot dogs and stuff like that. My dad just kind of wanted to do something different, so he made his own recipe.” Velasco, now 27, says he was 14 or 15 when he made his first discada. “For me, this is so personal to my family, and this takes time.”
The time has paid off. All it takes to realize that is a bite of these tacos.