Austin-based Tacodeli has found another home in Houston at 1902 Washington Ave. next to B&B Butchers & Restaurant. Headed by taco brain Roberto Espinosa and his business partner Eric Wilkerson, this new location just opened last week. The owners opened the first Tacodeli in Austin in 1999, and now their restaurant business has gained quite a following, as noted by the blurs of burnt orange we saw during our casual lunchtime visit. The line meandered out the door and curved around the building. To our relief – and our ravenous appetites – the line moved fairly quickly.
Espinosa and Wilkerson pride themselves on fresh, local ingredients for their taco creations that harken back to street versions found in Mexico City. Simply put, Tacodeli aims to inspire renewed appreciation for the humble taco. With more than 40 taco varieties available as well as salads, queso and salsas, the menu crams in a slew of options.
The taco menu is split into categories: seafood, pork, beef, chicken and vegetarian. You choose among flour, corn or wheat tortillas. Breakfast tacos are available until 11 am during the week and served all day on the weekend. A salsa bar is heaped with little cups of spice varying from mild to eye-watering fiery.
The restaurant’s layout features round bright-colored tables, a counter along the windows and a spacious patio perfect for big groups. We ordered chips and queso ($6.50 for a medium) to start, and alternated between dunking the chips in Tacodeli’s infamously spicy salsa dosa and queso for creamy relief.
Then we moved onto our personal six-taco tasting, beginning with the Mojo Fish ($4.25), a blackened salmon (usually Gulf drum) oozing with spicy guacamole, pico de gallo and a specialty mojo-garlic sauce. Next came the Happy Taco ($3.75), a flour tortilla bulging with shredded chicken glazed in jack cheese, cilantro and onions – no frills or fuss. To try Tacodeli’s house-made mole, we ordered the Pollo En Mole ($3.95), a nutty play on a traditional chicken taco. Two beef tacos came next: The Tacoloco ($3.95) had rich and juicy smoked brisket mingling with mushrooms, queso fresco and caramelized onions, while the Cowboy ($3.95) featured hunks of beef tenderloin, grilled corn and guacamole. Lastly, the Conquistador ($4.25) rounded off the meal as a hefty taco chock full of roasted pork shoulder, chile pasilla sauce, avocado and cilantro.
Tacodeli left a pleasant impression on us, particularly because of the complexity and uniqueness of each taco. No two beef tacos taste the same. Choosing which to order can be difficult because each sounds just as delicious as the next. No matter which you choose, we think there will be no regrets.
Tacodeli, 1902 Washington Ave., 713-357-7770, tacodeli.com
Hours: Mon. to Fri. 7 am-3 pm, Sat. and Sun. 8 am-3 pm (breakfast served all day)