We were very impressed that the Austin Chronicle included Taco Trucks in their yearly 'Best Of' issue this year. While we commend them for the inclusion we also think a 4-way-tie for first place is uncalled for, so we have decided to take matters into our own hands and declare a winner among them. So, this will be the first of two installments on these fine establishments.
Taqueria Piedras Negras -
Location: East Cesar Chavez and Pleasant Valley
The Truck itself is located on an old restaurant site on the corner of Pleasant Valley and E. Ceasar Chavez. There are two picnic benches at the site, which seems to get pretty busy around lunch time.
I ordered two pastors on corn with cilantro and onions. They arrived with a small side of a pretty excellent green salsa. The salsa was just hot enough without being overpowering and went well with the diced pastor. The pastor has an equal mix of crispy fleshy parts and moist inner pieces and was a totally decent taco experience.
If I didn't go to Tacos Al Pastor immediately after this visit it would have received a higher rating.
Piedras Negras - 4 Stars - jarod
I approached the taqueria Piedras Negras with a ravenous appetite and a strong desire to clear up this four way taco truck collision.
I was mildly disappointed right off the bat when the gentleman in the truck informed me that they were out of the Carne Asada and Carnitas listed on their sign and only had Al Pastor, Carne Guisada and Barbacoa on hand. I guess this lack of options is just part of the taco truck experience, so I took it in stride and ordered an Al Pastor and a Barbacoa. At $2 each, these tacos were a touch more expensive than I would have liked.
I was really hungry by this point, so I tucked into these generously sized tacos with no small amount of zeal. I was surprised by the Al Pastor, which I thought had a taste and texture that was much more like carnitas than the Al Pastor I'm used to. It was tasty, but I could tell I wouldn't be searching this place out when future cravings for tacos Al Pastor set in.
The Barbacoa taco was truly lovely, though. A very generous portion of moist, tasty meat mated gorgeously with the onions, cilantro and quite spicy jalapeno salsa to make for a truly satisfying taco experience.
The fact that the Al Pastor was a little strange to me combined with the fact that I don't often crave Barbacoa leads me to believe I won't be returning often to Piedras Negras, though everything was tasty.
Piedras Negras - 3.5 Stars - Cornbiter Deluxe
Rosita's Al Pastor -
Location - 1911 E. Riverside Austin, TX 78741
I ordered two pastors on corn with cilantro and onion served with an extremely spicy/tasty salsa verde. The salsa made its way up your mouth nicely and had a long and strong finish. Now let me let you in on something, Belinda Carlisle must have been talking about Tacos Al Pastor when she wrote 'Heaven is a place on Earth." These taco's rocked! The pastor was diced coarsely and the meat, which consisted of both charred and moist pork, was seasoned perfectly. There was a taste explosion in every bite. Chase it all down with a mexican coke and Cornbiter D and myself were in Taco Heaven.
If you are still reading this I hope it is on your cell phone while you barrel down I-35 on you way to this place, not to be missed.
Rosita's Al Pastor - 5 1/2 stars- jarod
In any case, my face was completely blown off by the display of taco virtuosity so effortlessly perpetrated by the truck called 'Tacos Al Pastor'.
I ordered a Fajita taco on flour and a taco Al Pastor (of course) on corn. It is hard to convey in print the utter amazement I felt as I bit into my Fajita taco and realized that I was chewing on that most rare of culinary delights, a freshly made flour tortilla. My disbelief was such that I practically rammed my face through the window of the truck to visually verify that there was a woman inside making flour tortillas by hand. GLORY!
Some quick background. I'm from the Rio Grande Valley in deepest south Texas. Every Mexican restaurant in the Valley makes their own tortillas. It's, like, the law. While I truly enjoy the wide variety of excellent food, including Mexican food, on offer in Austin, the almost complete lack of fresh flour tortillas has been an enduring disappointment to me.
As you can guess by now, I was stoked on this taco. The tortilla, the part of a taco most often the least remarkable, was fantastic. On top of that, literally, were some truly excellent fajitas. Moist and flavorful, with a nice hint of char from the grill adding a toothsome texture. The addition of a small amount of excellent refried beans in the bottom of the taco was just genius.
The creamy and VERY spicy jalapeno based green salsa was similar to the Piedras Negras offering, though both tastier and hotter. It was the perfect topping to the perfect Fajita taco.
The taco Al Pastor was also a stunner. The corn tortilla was yummy and unusually stout, doing a great job of keeping all the taco insides inside the taco. The pork itself was just perfectly cooked. It had a perfect texture, an excellent taste and zero gross gristly/fatty bits. The salsa was, again, just awesome on the taco.
I'm tempted to preemptively declare Tacos Al Pastor the undisputed champ and winner of the Chron's four way taco truck collision, but that would just be poor taco journalism, wouldn't it?
Jarod and I will visit the remaining two contenders soon, and a winner will be declared.
Rosita's Al Pastor - ONE. MILLION. STARS. - Cornbiter Deluxe