- Eric Swann, who rode the whole thing and attempted to go taco for taco with me. Luckily, he had no idea what he was getting himself into when he agreed to join me. It may have had something to do with the fact that I asked him after he had been drinking margaritas all day at our pool party last summer! But seriously, I don't think I would have nearly as well without him along to keep me motivated.
- Megan and the Kids, who put up with these crazy events every year. And even though I paid for it with burning thighs later in the day, it was great to have them along on Sunday Morning.
- All of you who sent in ideas for taco places, art, and landmarks
The ride started Saturday morning at my house. We rode up 360 to Maudie's Milagro to have the first taco. Fortunately, we had gotten a late start, because it turned out that Maudie's doesn't open until 9:00. So we called in our order from the parking lot and were the first customer's when they opened the door a few minutes later.
1. Maudie's: Potato, Egg, & Cheese - nothing special, but it was tasty as it was the first of the day
We then rode up 360, over the bridge, and then up the steep hills through the neighborhoods just to the north of 2222. It was probably a good thing I only had one taco in my belly at that point - and definitly a good thing I didn't have the kids in the trailer. As we came up and over the hill top onto Far West, we spotted the small convenient store on Northwest Hills. What a great find this was. They have a small kitchen in the back where they make very good, authentic tacos.
1. 360 Bridge:
2. Stop & Go: Sausage & Egg with Verde sauce - thick, homemade tortillas, excellent sauce.
Next we headed across Mopac on the Far West pedestrian bridge and wove through the neighborhoods over to Elsie's on Burnet and then down Shoal Creek to our first example of random austin yard art - one of my favorite houses to ride by as they constantly change their painted branch art creations.
3. Elsie's: Chorizo & Egg - not bad, but not very flavorful
2. Shoal Creek Yard Art
As we moved south and East, we passed by my old neighborhood. I was pleased to find that the next taco recommendation turned out to be a restaurant that I had always meant to try when I was living in the area. El Caribe is the real deal. I will definitely be back to explore the rest of their menu.
4. El Caribe: Egg & Nopalito - Fantastic. Nopalito is prickly pear cactus leaf and has a tangy almost pickled flavor. Highly recommend this one
The next stop was one of my all time favorites, and one of the most consistent breakfast taco businesses in Austin. In an old shack on the side of a busy road, the Tamale House has arguably the best breakfast tacos in Austin. It always has a line out the door. I hadn't been there since I moved down to South Austin eight years ago. Now I will have to find reasons to get back to the north side on weekend mornings!
5. The Tamale House: Potato, Egg, & Cheese - Simply the best with one of the best (and simplest) salsa fresca's in town
After this, we took our lives in our hands and headed over I-35 and north on Cameron to get to Amaya's Taco Village. With a name like that, I had to check it out. What a zoo. The place was packed. This was our first lunch tacos of the day and they didn't dissapoint.
6. Amaya's Taco Village: Picadillo on corn tortillas - Simple and delicious
We then rode my old route to school when I was getting my degree at UT. We snapped a few pics of the old neighborhood haunts and then settled in at Trudy's for a taco and a bloody mary. I need to remind myself that Trudy's is famouse for atmosphere and great drinks - not for food. This was a turning point for the day. The guts were churning for the next several hours, and really never completely recovered for the rest of the day.
3. Hyde Park Fork
4. Crown & Anchor Pub (scene of many study breaks and philosophic conversations
7. Trudy's: Migas taco & Bloody Mary - Nasty taco, velveeta cheese, runny eggs. Great drink
The next hour or so was a slow meandering through downtown with lots of stops to capture some of the many things that make Austin Uniqe:
5. Bannanna Moon Neon House Art
6. Wheatsville Co-op
7. Junior's Kegs
8. Hole in the Wall
9. UT Tower
10. George Washington proud stance
11. Hi How Are You Mural
12. Dog & Duck Pub
13. Texas State Capitol
14. Cheap-O discs (home of the original Whole Foods Market)
15. Shoal Creek Saloon
16. Waterloo Records
The tour of downtown landmarks was just what I needed to work off the bloody many and processed cheese, so we stopped into Wahoo's for a change of pace.
8. Wahoo's: Fish taco & a beer - very refreshing
Then we were back on the road visiting more landmarks until we got to the south side of Congress Bridge and officially entered South Austin, the home of Austin's little Mexico. Unfortunately, this was also when it started raining. The rest of the afternoon found us riding through light rain to heavy downpours. At least it gave us something else to complain about other than our rapidly filling stomach's.
17. Antone's - Home of the Blues
18. Esther's Follies
19. Congress Avenue Bat Bridge and Bat Statue
20. Threadgill's World Headquarters (home of the old Armadillo World Headquarters)
21. Austin Motel
22. Continental Club South Austin was the beginning of our serious afternoon taco binge. Starting with El Sol y La Luna, at the base of the Austin Motel Sign, we stopped at most of the taco shacks that we passed as we rode down South Congress and then back up South First Streets. The low point of the day was definitely the limp chicken tacos (tasted like the chicken was boiled) at El Gallo, and the high point (possibly of the whole challenge) was the slow cooked pork tacos with cilantro and cotija cheese at Torchies, a trailer on South First.
9. El Sol y La Luna: Puerco - dried out and not great flavor
10. Curra's: Steak - very tasty, but a bit heavy on the cheese
11. El Gallo: Chicken - disgusting (almost couldn't get it down. This was the taco that killed Eric for the day)
12. El Flaco: Chicken Asado - very good and simple - just grilled chicken and onions on a toasted tortilla
13. El Borrego de Oro: Avocado - Very refreshing and a nice break from all the meat
14. Arrandas: Carnitas - one of my favorites
Most of the stops on Saturday had worked out exactly according to my pre-planned route. But I had to make a game time call with Buenos Aires. This little restaurant is located on the sight of the old El Borrego de Oro, which I used to frequent regularly when I lived in the hood. Buenos Aires is an Argentinian place that I have heard a lot of good things about. Unfortunately, they do not have tacos. So I went with the Empanada instead.
15. Buenos Aires Cafe: Chicken Empanada - delicious. Nice place too. I will be back for a slower paced meal with some wine sometime
16. Polvos: Machacado & Egg - my standard breakfast taco order
17. La Mexicana Bakery: Barbacoa - greasy in the traditional style. It was cut nicely by lime
18. La Reyna - Steak Fajitas: nothing special
19. Torchies: Pork - The best taco of the challenge.
23. Peter Pan Mini Golf 24. Chuy's Tex Mex
25. Trail of Lights 26. Barton Springs
27. Philosopher's Rock
28. Moontower Xmas Tree
Click here to see the write-up for Day 2