In the five decades Joe’s has been open, it’s cultivated a reputation as a local institution, a place as likely to be serving city and state officials as Longhorns-capped college students and large, extended families. Tejano ballads on the jukebox complement the bustling atmosphere. The bright booths are almost always full, and portraits of Henry Cisneros and Ann Richards look down on diners, a testament to the longevity and popularity of this place. Chips and salsa are tough to pass up—Joe’s excellent verde sauce is packed with chile seeds and carries a pleasant, lingering heat. Tacos here come in generous portions (order no more than two) on thick, fluffy homemade tortillas, though the weighty tortilla could still barely contain the salty barbacoa, slow-cooked to a true melt-in-your-mouth-type disintegration. The fine chop meant that there was no abundance of the fatty chunks that can derail some lesser barbacoa tacos—this version is smooth, rich, and comforting. Carne guisada was also a standout during our meal, mostly due to the thick, flavorful red gravy. Even if you can’t fit dessert in your stomach immediately, stop at the bakery counter for a bag of galletas on your way out—you’ll be happy you did.
2305 E. 7th (512-472-0017). Open Tue–Sun 6:30 a.m.–3 p.m.