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This story was originally published in November 2020 and has been updated.

The Capital City gets a lot of taco attention. It comes with the media exposure surrounding large events such as South by Southwest and the Austin City Limits Music Festival. But the focus has long been on Tex-Mex staples like breakfast tacos, the city’s myriad taco trucks, and restaurant institutions like Matt’s El Rancho. While those continue to thrive, a new wave of modern establishments has diversified the landscape and made for a richer Mexican dining experience. Here’s where to find the best along Austin’s Taco Trail.

Con Todo

Rio Grande Valley native Joseph Gomez brings tacos estilo Matamoros to Austin with his food truck, Con Todo. Although the taco is named for Brownsville’s Mexican sister city, Matamoros, it is very much a signature Texas nosh. A small, oil-dipped corn tortilla is topped with beef—usually bistec—and finished with salty crumbles of queso fresco, an avocado wedge, and chopped raw white onions and cilantro. The taco estilo Matamoros is served across Brownsville and its suburbs, but Gomez’s version differs from the standard in one significant way: he subs guacamole for avocado. The mashed avocado adds a certain cool creaminess a wedge could not., Celis Brewery, 10001 Metric Boulevard, no phone.

Cuantos Tacos

Since September 2019, Cuantos Tacos has set the mark for Mexico City street-stall-style tacos sold from Austin trucks (watch our “On the Taco Trail” video with Cuantos here). First, it did so from a converted 1963 Ford Step Van, painted yellow, next to an auto shop. Then it moved to Arbor Food Park, where it continued serving traditional tacos of suadero, luscious and subtle lengua (see “Mini” in the Tacopedia), longaniza (an aged chorizo), and more from a chorizera (think a large smooth-edged Bundt pan with a shallow trough and a wide convex center tower; the fillings get cooked in lard in the concave channel). Each night of service has a special taco. Thursday is for tacos estilo Matamoros (see “Tacos Estilo Matamoros” in the Tacopedia). 1108 E. Twelfth, 512-903-3918.


The name says it all for the Discada trailer. The white, sparsely adorned rig sells one taco and one taco only: discada. The northern Mexican dish that’s popular in El Paso developed from vaqueros and ranch hands cooking mixed meats with vegetables and aromatics on broken plow discs. The rigged cooking implement evolved into what’s known today as the disco, or cowboy wok. The discada recipe differs from cook to cook, and Discada owners Anthony Pratto and Xose Velasco won’t share theirs. They promised the source of the recipe, Velasco’s father, that they’d keep it a secret. What we can tell you is that the mixture of bacon and beef (see “Pork-Beef-Chicken” in the Tacopedia), chives, bell peppers, onions, and more is cooked down for several hours until it’s transformed into a juicy filing 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 balancing sweet and acidic component. They are served as mini tacos. Make sure to order at least four., 1319 Rosewood Avenue, 512-945-7577.

El Naranjo

This homage to Oaxaca from executive chef Iliana de la Vega has an all-star list of regional dishes on the menu. Particularly delectable are the empanadas de huitlacoche. But this is about tacos. Go for El Naranjo’s tacos dorados (see “Tacos Dorados” in the Tacopedia), a trio of rolled fried tacos filled with mashed potatoes and goat cheese or shredded chicken. The tacos dorados are smothered in an emerald-colored salsa of avocado and cream. The presentation is finished with a sprinkling of panela cheese., 2717 S. Lamar Boulevard, Suite 1085, 512-520-5750.

El Perrito Austin Taco Trail
Flautas, taquitos ahogadas, and an ELP Doggie from El Perrito.Photograph by José R. Ralat

El Perrito ATX

Owner-taquero Ivan Enriquez missed the flavors of his hometown of El Paso so much he decided to begin serving them himself. It’s the Sun City specialties that set this trailer apart from the plethora of other Austin taco trucks. Here, Enriquez serves an improvement on the famous flautas ahogadas of Chico’s Tacos. His taquitos ahogados come drowned in a thin tomato salsa with a splash of salsa verde and are finished with a generous helping of cheddar cheese. Don’t skip the hot dog. Served on a bisected hamburger bun, the ELP Doggie is a garnet-hued pork-and-chicken link sliced lengthwise and topped with beans, red enchilada sauce, and pickles, and smeared with spicy mayo and ketchup.,730 W. Stassney Lane, 915-777-0361.

Ensenada ATX

Until recently, Texas didn’t have much in the way of great fish tacos. Mother-daughter duo and Baja California natives Liz Everett and Stephanie Everett Martin changed that with their selections. The tacos, which feature grilled or fried fish or shrimp, are a study in texture. Saucy cabbage adds a contrasting crunch to the flaky white fish (or firm shrimp) fried in a tawny batter. Reach for the tangy Valentina hot sauce for a classic garnish, or the nutty, oil-based salsa macha for a fiery zing.,1108 E. Twelfth, 512-666-4396.

The chilaquiles taco with mole sauce at Granny’s Tacos.Photograph by Mackenzie Smith Kelley

Granny’s Tacos

In 2016, Maria Rios, a native of Guanajuato, opened a food truck in a repurposed ambulance. That truck, Granny’s Tacos, named after Rios’s great-grandmother and grandmother, is now the city’s best breakfast taco truck. The kitchen has also been replaced by a shiny new trailer. The tacos with chilaquiles (see “Breakfast Tacos” in the Tacopedia) can be topped with a guajillo-based salsa roja; a soaking, tart salsa verde; or a house-made mole. The mole offers sweet, spicy, earthy, and bitter notes that work in concert to offer a punchy finish over scrambled eggs and corn chips. Rios retired late last year and sold ownership to her son, Rey Hernandez. He has expanded Granny’s to include two permanent locations and refurbished the original ambulance into a roving taco unit., 1401 E. Seventh, 512-701-4000.

La Santa Barbacha

Siblings Daniela, Uriel, and Rosa de Lima Hernández honor their barbacoa-making parents through their operation christened with the nickname for the Mexican dish with a solemn nod to its sanctity. Tucked behind Native Hostel, the trailer dishes out various presentations of beef barbacoa cooked in maguey leaves, including sopes, chilaquiles, and, of course, tacos. The tortillas come in a variety of colors due to the use of yellow masa, green masa (colored by nopales), and pink masa (colored by beets)., 807 E. Fourth, 737-209-0455.

Austin Taco Trail
A costra-style crispy cheese taco and a quesataco with a spinach-infused corn tortilla from La Santa Barbacha. Photograph by José R. Ralat
Austin Taco Trail
The exterior of La Santa Barbacha, outside of Native Hostel. Photograph by José R. Ralat

Los Danzantes ATX

When Edgar Yepez and his friends Luis Fernando Baes and Sonia López opened Los Danzantes ATX, whose name nods to their folklórico dance company, it was the fulfillment of a dream. Since the trio began serving signature dishes from their native Oaxaca, Jalisco, and Aguascalientes, the dream has only gotten brighter. The truck’s chalkboard menu boasts juicy tacos de birria with rich consommé, as well as large toasted and folded tlayudas packed with beans, Oaxacan quesillo cheese, avocado leaves, and cabbage. You can order a blanket of cecina, a salted beef, to go atop the tlayuda. To find these exquisite foods from one of the state’s best taco trucks to open in 2021, you’ll have to schlep down to the Far Out Lounge and Stage along a developing stretch of South Congress. Los Danzantes ATX is in the backyard., Far Out Lounge and Stage, 8504 S. Congress Avenue, 512-705-3621.


It’s rare that a taco makes a person cry. But that’s exactly what this East Austin institution’s carne guisada taco does: bring generations of customers to weep with joy. The carne guisada isn’t the only taco worthy of strong emotion. The Elgin sausage taco—with or without scrambled eggs—is a stunner and often the first taco to sell out. Get there early.,901 Tillery, 512-926-1709.

Mi Tradición Panaderia

This bakery-restaurant has two locations: one on the north side of town and another south of the river (we prefer the latter). The must-order at both is the taco de arroz de chile relleno, a wide, fat blue corn tortilla upon which lies a bed of yellow rice and a squat, battered and fried chile relleno de queso (see “Guisados” in the Tacopedia). Let the taco cool a bit. Doing so not only allows for easy manipulation of the taco, it gives the cheese time to firm up. One big is enough to share, if you want to sample other tacos., 801 E. William Cannon Drive, Suite 125, 512-445-9120.

Nixta Taqueria

Sara Mardanbigi and chef Edgar Rico, co-owners of Nixta Taqueria, offer their customers a balance of the modernist and the traditional via interpretations of their cultural heritages (see “Chef-Driven” in the Tacopedia). The enchilada potosina features a guajillo-mixed corn tortilla and chile-rubbed cheese imported from Rico’s ancestral home of San Luis Potosí, Mexico. More imaginative handiwork often integrates Mardanbigi’s Iranian roots, such as a recent special using Middle East za’atar seasoning with a mole blanco. The purple tortilla base is made from corn nixtamalized in-house., 2512 E. Twelfth, 512-551-3855.

Palo Seco

Gerardo “Jerry” Guerrero had grand plans for Palo Seco (formerly La Tunita 512). When he opened the trailer in November 2019, the menu was sprawling, including sopes, gorditas, tortas, enchiladas, and weekend-only traditional goat birria. Unfortunately, the San Luis Potosí–born chef saw only a few customers on any given day. It was then that he decided to streamline his menu, focusing on trendy beef birria. It’s in everything, including specials such as pozole ramen and burritos stuffed with yellow rice and molten cheese. Guerrero’s decision to change his menu saved the business and gave Austin the best birria de res in town., 2400 Burleson Road, 512-679-0708.


I’m usually a stickler when it comes to traditional preparations, but trucks are fascinating environments with restrictive spaces that require creativity. That’s how Paprika chef-owner Margarito Pérez devised a space-saving solution to make his carnitas. Because of capacity constraints, he can’t use the traditional cazo, a wide-mouthed pot with a narrow base, in which cuts of pork are braised in lard. Instead, he cooks the meat sous vide for at least twelve hours. The result is an impossibly soft filling of chopped pork best topped with the chunky, oily salsa macha. Tacos al pastor made from pork roasted on a trompo are an occasional special., 6519 N. Lamar Boulevard, 512-716-5873.

Sabor Tapatio

“Tapatio” is the Spanish word for someone or something from Guadalajara, the capital of the Mexican state of Jalisco. And that’s the city that you get a taste of at this South Congress trailer. First and foremost is the cheesy, chile-stewed barbacoa estilo Guadalajara (see “Barbacoa/Barbecue” in the Tacopedia). They look like the uber-popular birria de res tacos because what most taquerias pass off as birria de res is actually barbacoa. The preparations are cousins, and both are exquisite when done well, just like the tacos at Sabor Tapatio. Also great are the chorizo and carne asada campechano mini tacos on corn tortillas. They come five to an order., 5604 S. Congress Avenue, 512-483-4241.


Before Comedor and Nixta Taqueria, there was Suerte, which actually opened not that long ago (March 2018). Like the other modern Mexican restaurants, Suerte, whose kitchen is overseen by executive chef Fermín Nuñez, nixtamalizes its corn for tortillas. The taco to order here is the brisket suadero, Nuñez’s specialty. The chunks of beef are made luscious with the prickly house salsa macha, called black magic oil. Make room for dessert (see “Dessert Tacos” in the Encyclopedia), especially the choco taco., 1800 E. Sixth, 512-953-0092.

Texsueño Austin Taco Trail
Flautas with tacos and chips and salsa from Texsueño. Photograph by José R. Ralat
Texsueño Austin Taco Trail
Texsueño’s trailer is parked at High Noon bar and lounge. Photograph by José R. Ralat


The grace with which Texsueño owner Brandon Martin rolls out his raw, nixtamalized tortillas from the press to the flattop griddle is mesmerizing. The same skill is also evident in his tacos—especially the slightly spicy crispy taco, which is freshly fried and filled with ground beef (or potato, if you so choose), then topped with ribbons of chopped lettuce, cheese, and onions. The dish is a lovely ode to Martin’s West Texas upbringing. Don’t miss the flautas, two halved, rolled, and fried tacos filled with juicy roasted chicken and cheese. They’re served vertically and partially submerged in a double whammy of woodsy roasted-tomatillo ranch and punchy salsa macha. Chopped cilantro sprinkled atop adds color and brightness. It’s damn near perfection., 2000 E. Cesar Chavez, no phone.

Un Mundo de Sabor

The early days of Luis Mendoza and Amanda Hernandez’s food truck were rough—so much so, they almost called it quits. I’m thankful they didn’t close. Instead, they took advantage of an invitation to move to the Thicket food truck park in South Austin. There, taco lovers queued up for Un Mundo de Sabor’s local and seasonal Mexican fare. Some dishes are familiar, like the pork carnitas, but others are creative takes on classics, including the cauliflower al pastor. Customers shouldn’t miss the enchiladas soaked in thick chile colorin and nestled in Muenster cheese (an El Paso favorite), nor the luscious strawberry-topped tres leches cake made by Hernandez, a professional pastry chef., 7800 S. First, 512-792-1290.

Austin Taco Trail
Cauliflower al pastor, carnitas, and barbacoa tacos from Un Mundo de Sabor.Photograph by José R. Ralat

Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ

Miguel Vidal set out to build a barbecue joint like no other in town by cooking food that he grew up eating in San Antonio: smoked meats with tortillas, rice, beans, and more Mexican American backyard favorites. The menu at Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ, which opened in 2013, is separated into Tex and Mex categories. The former lists all the barbecue favorites (see “Barbacoa/Barbecue” in the Tacopedia) smoked with mesquite. The Mex includes a bevy of tacos. Spectacular regulars include the smoked chicken topped with a dollop of lime-forward guacamole and a peppy tomatillo-habanero salsa., 11500 Manchaca Road, 512-221-4248.

Vaquero Taquero

In 2016, Rio Grande Valley natives and brothers Miguel and Daniel Cobos started Vaquero Taquero as a pushcart hawking breakfast tacos. They upgraded to a customized trailer next to a Hyde Park convenience store and sold tacos on handmade tortillas, including zippy chipotle-stewed chicken tinga; griddled nopales; and pork sliced from a petite trompo (see “Trompo” in the Tacopedia). Now, they work out of a storefront next to another convenience store near Speedway., 104 E. Thirty-first, 512-366-5578.