Friday, March 12

SXSW Taco Guide

Here's a quick listing of taco places in around a lot of the SXSW venues. Be warned: some of these taco places are aggresively mediocre, but are included because of their proximity to festival sites. Read the blurb before going.

Piedras Negras
Awesome tacos. A bit of a walk/drive, but worth it.

"I've been eating at Porfiro's for over 15 years. Consistent, good quality food. I have friends from San Jose who still talk about."

Rosita's Al Pastor
Best Al Pastor in town. Except when its not. Like anything amazing in life, it is a bit inconsistent.

Joe's Bakery
On East 7th, pretty close to the action. The place is great. It's families and neighbors and newbies all mixed up.

Mi Madre's
El Mundo de Mando's favorite place. A bit far away from the main venues, but worth a breakfast trip. Get the Machacado breakfast taco.

West Sixth
Whole Foods
The taco bar is in the front of the store by the deli. It'll get the job done, but there are much better places around.

Screaming Goat
Formerly named Chuco's; this is pretty much the same place. They have truly great chips and salsa. Try their drowned flautas and the quesadillas. This place is definitely worth the extra walking.

This is chain fish tacos. Seriously, don't do it unless you are really hungry.

They serve decent tacos but they're a bit overpriced. Also, they seem to be confused about what carnitas are.

This trailer is in the parking lot of Little Woodrow's. We enjoyed their straight-up bean and cheese tacos. Everything else? Not so much.

Garrido's is a sit down Fancy-Mex restaurant. It is generally expensive; but their brunch is surprisingly affordable. They have pretty good, fresh, homemade chips (but they charge for them). $2 Mimosa's at Brunch.

La Casa Del Fuego
The breakfast tacos at this trailer are pretty good. They do them right too: they cook all of the ingredients together and let the flavors mix

El Sol Y La Luna
Certainly not my favorite, this sit down restaurant charges for chips. The food is ok, and some people swear by their enchiladas. Its convenient location on Red River and 6th St guarantees it will be packed.

El Chilito

They serve fast tacos and beer, downtown. Some people like it. This place became an El Chile and then turned back into an El Chilito all since the last SXSW.

Tamale House
An Austin institution. A bit off the beaten SXSW path, but not that far.

South Lamar-ish
Maria's Taco X-Press
Overrated, but 'ok' tacos. Film geeks: this isn't too far from the Alamo Drafthouse South.
Only on here because it is close to the Drafthouse South.

Tacos done right. This isn't really on South Lamar, but its close enough if you don't mind some cross country hiking. We'll be serving their tacos at the Taco Tweet-up.

South Congress/South First
Tucked behind the Crepe trailer. Their fajita chicken and brisket tacos are better than Guero's. You can definitely taste the smoke.


If you are a fan of Grindhouse, you may enjoy this place (it featured prominently in it). The tacos are mediocre, at best. This is only included in case you are either desperate or tempted by the crowds.

Everyone is going to tell you to go here. It's decent, but not worth the crowds. Walk down to El Primo or La Mexicana and get twice the food for the same price.

El Primo

2101 South First. OK tacos, friendly service.

Izzo's Tacos
Fancy tacos in a trailer. Meh.

La Mexicana
Open 24 hours. Great tacos. Go there anytime.

SXSW Taco Map

View SXSW Taco Map in a larger map

SXSW Taco Dictionary

  • Al Carbon: Grilled over charcoal
  • Al Pastor: Pork with adobo seasoning. Excellent.
  • Beef Fajita: Grilled skirt steak
  • Carne Guisada: Stewed meat usually with gravy
  • Carnitas: Roasted Pork
  • Lengua: Tongue
  • Tripe: Intestines
  • Menudo: Tripe Soup
  • Chicharron: Fried (or not) Pork Skin

SXSW Taco Eating Hints

  1. Everything tastes the same after 6 beers. Feel free to skimp on the quality.
  2. If you have consumed less than 6 beers, walk the few extra blocks to eat the good stuff.
  3. Unless otherwise stated, avoid the chicken tacos.
  4. Despite what everyone will tell you, you totally do NOT have to eat at Torchy's. No, it won't blow your mind. Punch everyone that tells you otherwise.
  5. Don't buy pre-made breakfast tacos at a coffee shop. Eat them fresh or not at all. Seriously. Well, unless those pre-made breakfast tacos are at The Taco Journalism Breakfast taco Meetup, in which case it is TOTALLY OK to eat them(because they're free.)
  6. Don't be afraid to explore taco trailers we didn't mention. If they have a small line in front of them, they're probably pretty good.
  7. Even if the order taker doesn't speak English, waving your hands and pointing usually works well enough.
  8. Order a Jarritos (a Mexican fruit flavored soft drink) or a Mexican coke with your taco. It's just natural.
  9. A lot of trailers, and some restaurants, are cash only. Bring some just in case.

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