Restaurants & Bars 6

Taqueria El Chanclas Hwy 183 Pilot Knob Texas

scrumptiouschef | Feb 25, 200803:57 PM

Rolling down 183 South I spy a tiny taco cart off the side of the road on the Northwest corner of the intersection with Hwy 812.Unto itself this isn't a big deal but when I see smoke rolling out of a giant kettle under a carport style awning I get real interested real quick.

I pull into the rough gravel parking lot,park and make my way to the order window...the sweet perfume of Borracho Beans clouds the whole zone and I can feel greatness afoot in the far reaches of Travis County.

I greet the two laughing Mexican ladies and begin reading through the menu.I note Deshebrada which has become one of my favorite meats in recent years...little do I know my entire perspective of the
dish is about to be changed forever.Carne Asada is offered but has sold out.Other standard fare like Al Pastor and Beef Fajita are ordered along with a cup of the beans from the cauldron...this is where I hit a snafu

"Senor,these beans are for a party later"

"Yeah,I know...I'm here for the party just got here a little early,you can go ahead and sell me a small cup"we exchange broad smiles and she nods and walks out of the cart with a ladle.

While my party beans are being scooped out I order a Jarito and crack up when the lady jams the glass bottle in her mouth and wrenches it open with her nice,white teeth.You just can't get this kind of service these days,I inwardly reckon as I take a long pull off my orange soda.

A scant few minutes pass and the scene is your basic side of a state highway idyll;lots of cars are scooting by on the hot asphalt,the wind is whipping up nicely and good smells are coming and going under a gorgeous Texas sun.

The Tacos come on fresh[I watch Carmen,my cook,scoop masa from a bag]corn tortillas hot off the griddle.The Beef Fajita is tender skirt steak with a hint of good,bloody flavor kissed with lime juice.The Al Pastor is also good,not from the tromp but with a wonderful flavor of anise.The power hitter is the Deshebrada,succulent,salted simmered beef roast...I've eaten this dish everytime I've seen it on a menu and this is the finest version I've ever sampled.I suspect my cook is from deep in Deshebrada country and I wish I knew where this hallowed land is because I would move there in an instant.The Salsas both red and green are good,not amazing but when the meat is this good it doesn't matter.The Pintos are loose,spicy and salty which is just how I like it.

Taqueria el Chancla is officially a score.The food is delicious,the ladies who run it a smiling treasure.When Taqueria Diego shuttered I was at loose ends.I need at least 3 Taco Carts to rotate between for authentic Mexican food and now I'm back up to par.

This is the second piece in my series documenting the foodways of unincorporated Travis County,Texas.It's work that will be rough hewn.Simple foods cooked in an environment unencumbered by the urban ways of nearby Austin.I'm really looking forward to exploring Hwy 812 as I've noted many small eateries dotting the roadsides thereabouts.

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