I know for most of you Austinites, TacoDeli is a place that's been on your radar screen for quite a while. Probably a latecomer to the game myself, I originally reviewed them on Yelp a couple of years ago. Their breakfast tacos have become fairly ubiquitous, of late, and can be found at Emerald City Press, Teo, and Dominican Joe's, among other places. But lest you think that breakfast tacos are all TacoDeli has to offer, think again.
I was inspired to eat at TacoDeli recently upon discovering that a friend we'll call John (because that's his name) had never eaten there. Here is how our e-mail conversation went:
Me: Where shall we go for lunch?
John: Somewhere where the beer flows like wine and the women instinctively flock like Salmon of Capastrano. (blogger's note: I like strange people)
Me: I have no idea where the women flock like Salmon of Capastrano, but how about X, Y, Z, or TacoDeli?
John: I've never been to Y or TacoDeli - how about one of those?
Me: You've NEVER BEEN TO TACODELI?
Needless to say, we arrived at TacoDeli just a few short hours later. I had raved to John about the Cowboy Taco, which was rated the 52nd best taco in Texas by Texas Monthly in a December, 2006 article delightfully entitled "The 63 Tacos You Must Eat Before You Die." We each ordered one of those; John also tried a Pork Mole taco and I had one of their specials of the day, a Shrimp Taco.
The Cowboy Tacos were perfect, as always. The Cowboy is a stunning combination of succulent, grilled beef tenderloin with caramelized onions, nuggets of grilled corn, and roasted peppers, topped with guacamole & queso fresco. I also usually add a layer of TacoDeli's addictive Dona sauce, which I somehow neglected to photograph - shocking, considering the fact that I dream about bathing in the stuff. It's that good.
Looking down the barrel of a Cowboy Taco
The shrimp taco I had was also fantastic - very garlicky and loaded with shrimp. Unfortunately, I was halfway through it before I realized I should have photographed it.
We also tried the Grasshopper cake balls from Holy Cacao, which are now sold at TacoDeli as well. In all honesty, I wasn't really a fan of these. The chocolate reminds me of Lindt milk chocolate, which I've never loved; it always seems too mild and weirdly mushy to me. The texture of the cake balls is similarly strange - not cake-y at all - more a cross between a Lindt truffle and a really heavy piece of fudge. Meh.
Oh, and did I mention that these little balls are $2.25 apiece? I don't think Holy Cacao is going to see any more of my business (although I think they're $1.50 when purchased directly from Holy Cacao).
To my delight, the mediocre cake ball failed to interfere with the luscious taco memory that lingered on my tongue. If the Cowboy is only the 52nd best taco in Texas, I have a whoooooole lot of eating to do.