Throughout our days and years as writing types, we’ve received a whole host of unique press releases; Innovations such as Nadkins and vaginal suppositories infused with THC come to mind.
But the mother of all outrage hit our inboxes the other day in the form of an email publication promoting a story from Clever real estate dubbing Austin, Texas, America’s “best taco town.” with our beloved Los Angeles coming in at #5 on the list, chasing the mercury through the glass on our No Fucking Mames meter.
Say what?! The clickbait is set, and against our better judgment of this type of bullshit, we’re taking it here.
Proof numbers can be manipulated for any desired effect, e.g. B. to push more LA transplants to Texas. The rankings were determined by a hearty mix of crucial factors, including points for “taco restaurants” and taco trucks per 100,000 population, the average Yelp star ratings for those places, Google trending scores for searches for tacos, and a few other things that really don’t matter because everything is wrong.
It would be difficult to find the scale and variety of Southern California’s Mexican restaurant scene in most US cities. We are fortunate to live in a place where the cuisine of almost every state in Mexico can be found, in addition to regional recipes that can be traced back to small towns and even home kitchens, not to mention a bounty of the Southwest. Tex-Mex, North American lunchroom tacos, and the plethora of international cultures stuffing their culinary treasures into corn tortillas, a long list that includes tacos that highlight the cuisines of Italy, Korea, Vietnam, Armenia, Iran, and more.
Of course, as LA TACO, we are as biased as we can get. But we have no doubt that a city Austin’s size can’t hold a candle to a city that has far more Mexicans and Mexican-American residents than it has total residents.
But don’t take our word for it. We got in touch Food writer, friend and TV presenter Ali Khana former LA TACO columnist and former Angeleno who has made his home in Austin for seven years now, tells us he tried to hunt down the types of tacos he coveted in LA
The man doesn’t mince his words when we ask his opinion on the claims that Austin is the best taco town in the county.
“I worked with the James Beard Foundation in Texas last year, and bro, I’ll tell you right now, Austin doesn’t even have the best tacos in the friggin’ state,” he explains to LA TACO, mentioning that a more interesting challenge would be an LA fight and Houston or San Antonio, given their respective sizes and diversity, or even California versus Texas. “But yeah, that’s absurd. There’s no way, dude. If you’re talking breadth and depth, a city this size just can’t compete.”
I can’t even get a good tamal in this town, and I wrote an article about tamales during the holiday season,” Khan continues. “The best tamal I’ve had here was actually brought over from El Paso.”
Of course we love Austin, as does Ali. So we wanted to know which taquerías in Austin he would direct Angelenos to without hesitation. He enthusiastically supports some new players in the game: Valentina’s Tex-Mex barbecuewhich he says makes Tex-Mex the way it’s done in Texas homes with an off-pit smoker and skirt steak fajita over mesquite and pillowy flour tortillas, and Los Cuantoswhich comes from an East Austin native from humble beginnings who went to Mexico City and nixtamalized his own masa and made great salsa.
The latter scratches an itch when the former downtown LA and his all-time favorite LA late-night taquería “misses,” as he often does, the long-gone La Reyna in the Arts District. He also grieves that he left our town before places like Sonoratown and Tire Shop Taquería came into existence.
“What I miss are the salsa bars in Southern California,” he says, also noting a lack of Al Pastor in Austin amid an abundance of asada, brisket, and barbacoa. “The last time I was in Santa Barbara to shoot ‘Cheap Eats,’ I was like, ‘Oh right, you can get twelve salsas!’ I forgot what that even looks like.”
After delivering his Angeleno-Austin-ite verdict on the country and clickbait listicles everywhere, Khan leaves us with one final piece of advice on finding exciting Mexican food.
“For me, the best Mexican food is always found on the street, with some great exceptions,” he says. “For me, the better the margarita, the worse the food.”
Of course, for anyone looking for a taste of a Texas twist on Mexican cuisine, there are always breakfast tacos at the Austin-connected Homestate to start. What we understand has a good margarita. And then there’s the pop-up A’s BBQ, which sometimes serves its meat on tacos (and doesn’t serve margaritas).
It’s right here, in the #1 US city for tacos and better Mexican food, as our book states.
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