Although it’s common for taquerias or trucks across the state to boast that they sell “Mexico City–style street tacos,” few in Texas actually serve the real deal, also known as mini tacos. One of those is the bright yellow food trailer Cuantos Tacos, in Austin.
Few tacos actually have their origins in Mexico City’s culinary culture. There is the taco al pastor (pork roasted on a traditional trompo, a vertical rotisserie often topped with pineapple slivers), the suadero taco (braised then crisped brisket-style beef), and the taco campechano (mixed beef and aged chorizo topped with crumbled chicharrones). To really make these Mexico City tacos, a joint needs a trompo—which is rare because it requires a health department sign-off—and a chorizera, a circular cooking implement with a trough surrounding a convex tower. The chorizera is a nearly ubiquitous appliance at Mexico City taco stalls. Inside the trough, suadero, chorizo, lengua (beef tongue), tripe, and more braise in pork lard for hours. Suadero must be finished on the top of the convex top, giving the beef its signature crisp exterior and tender interior. Tortillas are heated on the same surface.
At Cuantos, Luis “Beto” Robledo uses a trompo and a chorizera to prepare his tacos, all of which are served on fresh, aromatic four-inch nixtamalized tortillas from San Antonio Colonial Tortilla Factory on the River City’s West Side. The trailer’s set-up at Arbor Food Park evokes the street-stall experience too. Employees wear the aprons and white paper boat hats typical of Mexico’s taqueros. Customers walk up, order their two-dollar tacos, and don’t have to wait long for their small treats. The tacos de suadero and de lengua are what draw me back to Cuantos each time I’m in Austin. There is no denying the beef tongue is beef tongue. It’s presented sliced (not chopped), herbaceous and meaty and brightened up with a squirt of lime and a dousing of spicy salsa roja. There’s no denying Cuantos Tacos is a primo taco truck either—it’s one of the best in the state and is mentioned twice in the Ultimate Texas Tacopedia, for its mini tacos as well as for its tacos estilo Matamoros, a Thursday special.
Director Chris Beier is a filmmaker who’s crafted documentaries for Fast Company, Inc. Magazine, Google, and, of course, Texas Monthly. Thank you to our friends at YETI for sponsoring this video.