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Tacos are Brain Food, and Brainiacs Eat at El Taquito…

This entry is part of a series, Austin Scene»

SoftT acos

Want to win a Nobel Prize, or maybe solve world hunger or cure cancer? Eat tacos. Want your sons to grow up to play pro sports? Feed them tacos; lots and lots of soft tacos. Want your daughters to be like Kim Kardashian? (Okay, maybe not that one.) How ‘bout as good a cook as Ingrid Hoffmann or Marcela Valladolid (and as good looking)? Be sure they get their daily dose of vitamins and tacos. (Crunchy is okay. For the tacos, I mean.)

Me? I love tacos. I make them at least once a week at home. Sometimes fancy, sometimes quick. Always tasty. And I’m still on the lookout for a great place to eat tacos. Hole-in-the-wall shacks, taco trucks, or fancy restaurants; I check them all.

Or I thought I did. Then I found El Taquito Sabor Mexico, right in my neighborhood.

Talk about cognitive dissonance. How could I have missed this one? Then I thought about it: I’d trained myself to. You see, it goes like this: ETSM (that’s the taqueria in question) went into a location near a major highway intersection. A location that we frequented repeatedly when it was a good barbeque joint. Then that place went way downhill, and we found other, better places to spend our dining dollars. A couple of other places came and went, always worse than before. So we quit even looking at that spot. El Taquito went in there, spiffed up the location nicely, but I was now trained to drive right by, nothing to see

Well, I fixed that recently. I was right there, and I saw the sign. Then my hunger alarm went off, enough to scare passersby. I parked and went in.

How to categorize El Taquito, exactly? Besides Tex-Mex and tacos, I mean. Well, it’s a cafeteria, in the sense that servers stand behind a hot buffet table and ask you what you want, then they fill a plate and send you along. Classic indoor-format taqueria. (Trucks and stands, they’re different.) Nowadays I guess we call these places fast-casual dining, since “cafeteria” sounds too much like you’re back in grade school. (Dreadful flashbacks.) So fast-casual it is.

I ordered the lunch special of the day. Which was a large, oval platter with two types of taco filling, some beans (I chose frijoles negro) and rice, lettuce and tomato, and a foil-wrapped roll of flour tortillas. It included the drink, and was nicely priced at $6.95. For fillings I chose the pork (al pastor, I believe) and a zesty beef. Since there were no signs over the food in the hot line, I did my best point-and-shoot imitation. It all looked delectable, so there was no way I could actually choose based on experience or wish.

The drinks fountain is help-yourself. I wanted iced tea. They’ve got an interesting tea dispenser, which looks like one of those large fresh-brewed cylinders with the tap near the bottom. Only this one dispenses four different choices for tea! From the same tap. You first select the variety you want, then open the tap. Voila! (I cheated and mixed two in sequence. I’m different that way.)

More Soft Tacos

Then there’s the salsa bar. What a nice assortment of toppings! There’s sliced jalapeño pickles, labeled “Mild.” Okay, that sets the lower bar for zest, doesn’t it. There were six other choices, displayed in large molcajete bases. Labels showed “Mild” to “Hot.” There was one that I especially enjoyed, on the habañero sauce: “Warning! A Few Drops of This Stuff Will Light You Up!” I’d say that was pretty clear, and with the jalapeños labeled “Mild,” I took the warning Very Seriously. I still took some to taste, though.

The roll of tortillas held three piping-hot flats of bread, and they looked hand-made. Given the amount of food on my plate I would have liked a fourth tortilla. After eating three big tacos, though, I wasn’t sure I could eat a fourth; instead, I used my fork to clean up my plate. It was all delicioso. I especially enjoyed the Pico de Gallo on my tacos, and the green sauce was very flavorful too (if a bit zestier). I only used two-three drops of the habañero sauce, and it was plenty scorching at that amount! I was glad I didn’t get any on my napkins; there wasn’t a fire extinguisher in sight.

El Taquito Sabor Mexico has a large and varied menu. Of course, tacos take pride of place, with at least fifteen different types shown on their board. Pork, beef, chicken, veggies, you name it, it’s up there. They also serve burritos and enchiladas, two of the basic Tex-Mex food groups. Lots of “trimmings” available too. I didn’t have time to read everything in detail, as I didn’t want a riot on my hands for holding up the serving line. I’d say, though, that this restaurant is more of a super-taqueria, given the range of their offerings. And I bet the guys in the back could make you up almost anything Tex-Mex, provided you can describe it to them in Spanish. They were working hard at prime lunch time, but laughing and chatting too. I like seeing a happy crew; they usually make the happiest food.

Here’s something you don’t usually see in a neighborhood taqueria, though: Live music. Yes, ETSM has live music! Plenty of it too. Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, at the very least. Most acts come on at 9 P.M., so plan on making a late night of it. Great local acts, mostly Latino styles. I hear it’s all good stuff! There’s a bar too, so you won’t have to go without your adult beverages while chillaxing to great tunes.

Overall I was very pleased with my lunch experience at El Taquito Sabor Mexico. I’ll be back, and with them nearby, I’ll be back often. Next time, I’ll either go for breakfast tacos or I’ll try the evening fare. Either way, I expect I’ll be very happy…

(Click the Badge Below for More Info)

El Taquito Sabor Mexico on Urbanspoon

El Taquito Sabor Mexico, 130 Louis Henna Blvd., Round Rock, TX 78664. Phone 512.671.8226. Casual-fast tacos, sit-down or drive-thru; reasonably priced fare for breakfast, lunch or dinner, seven days a week. Lunch specials each weekday. Extensive menu. Pickup available; no delivery. Live music several evenings a week. (You can quit driving by them now; I have.)

If You Can’t Stand the Heat, Eat El Taquito Tacos…

Entries in this series:
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  2. Restaurant Review: Gumbo's Louisiana Style Café
  3. Restaurant Review: Chola Indian Restaurant
  4. Restaurant Review: Fujian Grand China Buffet, Austin
  5. Restaurant Review: Casa Garcia's Tex-Mex Restaurant
  6. Review: Mesa Rosa Mexican Restaurant
  7. Restaurant Review: Truluck's Seafood, Steak and Crab House
  8. Restaurant Review Update: Fujian Grand China Buffet Restaurant
  9. Restaurant Review: Pho Viet Restaurant
  10. Sunday Brunch Anniversary Celebration: Moonshine Restaurant Patio Bar and Grill
  11. Late-Lunch Steaks at the Blue Oak Grill
  12. Mama Roux: So Good There's A Song About It, Sort Of...
  13. Phil's Ice House, an Austin-Weird Place for Great Burgers
  14. Easter Sunday Dinner: A Poor Experience at a Usually Reliable Locale
  15. A Sedate Spring Lunch at Zed’s
  16. Looking for a Taste of Germany? Well, We Tried…
  17. Fresh and Tasty Tex-Mex, Prepared by a Grandma
  18. The HomeField (Grill) Advantage
  19. Dinner for One: Sometimes the Good Stuff is Right Under Your Nose
  20. Smoky Heaven in Round Rock: Johnny T’s BBQ
  21. Tex-Mex, Better’n Sex (Says So on the Menu)
  22. The Quest Begins Anew (Just Pho Me): Mai Lien Bistro
  23. A Little Bit of the French Quarter, Here in Central Texas
  24. Quick Bites: El Caribe Tex-Mex
  25. It’s Good, It’s Italian, and You Don’t Have to Go to Europe to Get It
  26. Casa G’s for Lunch (Hint: It’s Awesome)
  27. Chola Indian Restaurant: A Good Indian Eatery Gets Better
  28. Tacos are Brain Food, and Brainiacs Eat at El Taquito…
  29. Get Your Indian Food Fix the Easy Way: Tärkă Indian Kitchen
  30. Late Lunch at Mandola’s Italian Market; Worth the Wait…
  31. I Didn’t Know Sichuan, China Included Round Rock
  32. Sunday Brunch at Pecan Street Station; Good Choice…
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  34. The Underground Visits Ethiopia for Dinner (and Has a Wonderful Time)
  35. Pho Lee Vietnamese, It’s Total-Lee Pho (and Very Good)
  36. A Taste of Jalisco in North Austin
  37. The Great Pho Quest Continues: Pho Thaison in Allandale
  38. From New Pho to Old: Lunch at a (Nearly) Forgotten Friend, Tan My
  39. Z’Tejas, a Wonderful Place for Brunch and Clan Revelry
  40. Dickey’s Barbecue Pit in Round Rock: Great Meat; As For the Rest…
  41. LongHorn Steakhouse Round Rock: A New Family Favorite
  42. Salt Lick BBQ in Round Rock: More Than Finger-Licking Good
  43. Drinks and Snacks on the Deck at McCormick & Schmick’s
  44. Going Back Pho More at a Local Favorite
  45. Swagat Indian: A Disappointment With a Few Bright Spots
  46. Branch BBQ in Wells Branch: A Local Secret?
  47. Karrrazy, Man: Kublai Khan Crazy Mongolian Stir Fry
  48. VooDoo BBQ & Grill: Their HooDoo’s Pretty Good, Actually
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  50. Chang Thai, Our Family’s New Favorite
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  52. Playing With Your Food (and Your Mom Would Approve): Shabu Hot Pot & Noodle Bar
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