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La Familia

Honey Bee | Mar 18, 2008 09:49 AM

While out running errands on Saturday afternoon, I decided to stop by La Familia to pick up some tacos to take home. La Familia is a little place on William Cannon just west on Mopac. It is in the shopping center behind Hollywood Video.

The place is small and had 13 or 14 tables inside of it. At the time, about 5 of the tables were occupied with people eating lunch. There is a cash register at the front for people to pay their checks and this is where to go orders are placed. Upon entering a young woman immediately asked if she could take my order. Having never been there before, I told her I needed a few minutes to review the paper take out menu placed near the register.

The menu features a small list of lunch specials, tortas, a cuban sandwich, and your standard fajitas, quesadillas, enchiladas, etc... The back of the menu lists breakfast offerings such as migas, a breakfast quesadilla, pancakes, and tacos but does not indicate breakfast hours so I am not sure if b'fast is available 24 hours a day or is limited.

I decided on three tacos: al pastor, barbacoa, and beef fajita and a side of guacamole. I requested all tacos on flour tortillas and the menu indicated the barbacoa and pastor would come with cilantro and onions. It was not until after I ordered that I noticed chips and salsa must be ordered separately for takeout so I did not get to try those.

While waiting for my food to be ready, a couple came to pay their bill. The waitress entered the prices of their entrees into the register and it spit out a total. Upon receiving their check the customer indicated the bill did not seem correct. The waitress added it again using the cash register and showed the same total to the customer who paid the bill and left. A few minutes later, the customer returned and said the itemized bill did not add up to the total they were given despite the use of the cash register. The customer pulled out a calculator and showed the waitress the difference (which was almost $10). The waitress refunded the difference, but I was left wondering about a potential problem with La Familia's cash register .

After about 7 or 8 minutes I received my order: 3 smallish tacos and a ramekin of guac.

Barbacoa: Good flavor, not quite greasy enough. Fresh chopped while onion and cilantro on top. The tortilla on which it was served did not taste homeade and was rather thin and small. I prefer a more San Antonio style tortilla that tastes of lard and is a little thicker.

Al pastor: This came without the mentioned cilantro and onions which I think would have been a nice addition. The pork was cut into medium sized chunks and was spicier than most versions I have had (it was not hot, just a little more heat to it). It was tender however, it completely lacked any citrus taste.

Beef fajita: Wow, this was the smallest most pitiful taco I have ever seen. Literally, there was one piece of beef about the size of a stick of gum--maybe a little smaller in length-- and one piece about the size of wooden match stick. Two slivers of beef and that was it. The rest of the taco was thinly grilled white onion slices and 1/4" thick barely cooked slized of green bell pepper. Had I opened this taco at La Familia, I would have sent it back in a heartbeat. The small taste of beef I got from this taco was decent..well done, not too chewy, slight charred on the outside, and peppery.

Guac- had chunks of tomato and onion. No real discernable flavor.

I had really hoped to find a jewel of a place in SW Austin, but alas I was really disappointed by the size of the tacos, the quality of the tortilla, the lack of attention to detail (no cilantro/onion, overcharge to customer, amount of beef in fajita). Because the flavors in the pastor and barbacoa showed potential, I might give them one more chance. I would be interested to hear the experiences of any other hounds who have been to La Familia.

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