Tamale House East
People familiar with the Tex-Mex scene in Austin may be familiar with the Tamale House name—the location on Airport that Bobby Vasquez operated for more than three decades amassed a loyal fanbase who mourned the passing of its owner and subsequent shuttering of this Austin institution earlier this year. This offshoot of Tamale House is run by Vasquez’s nieces and nephews, and they’ve carried the mantle well, serving classic dishes that keep diners happy and the place full. At $4.75, their fish taco is a bargain—it was the single-largest taco we saw on our tour. A large citrus- and garlic-marinated tilapia filet is grilled on a plancha, or flat top; placed on a double corn tortilla; and finished with a mountain of complements: fresh chopped spinach, pickled purple onions, guacamole, and a lovely chipotle remoulade dressing. This bulging taco is so big it risks collapsing under the weight of its almost excessive filling. Our only quibble was the seasoning—we were a pinch of salt away from perfection. Try as we might, we simply couldn’t finish the dish without it disintegrating, but you won’t mind resorting to a fork or your fingers. The family-run vibe, elaborate Día de los Muertos shrines lining the back walls, and live Vince Guaraldi–style jazz piano happening on our visit left us feeling warmly welcomed.
1707 E. 6th (512-495-9504). Open Tue-Fri 7 a.m.-– p.m., Sat & Sun 8 a.m.–3 p.m.