I’ve gotten some cold stares since I started this series. As I make my way around Austin I’ve taken to stopping at a lot of taco carts that I’ve never sampled. I ignore the posted menu and get down to business.
“Do you have desebrada?” The answer is almost always no, at which point I thank them, pivot and leave. This doesn’t exactly endear you to a taquera but I’ve been at wits end attempting to find this, seemingly, exotic taco filling.
Which is what leads me to Mi Ranchito, 15 miles south of my house in East Austin. The little taqueria is in a faded quick mart on a desolate stretch of lonely road in southeast Austin.
It’s a gem in spite of the fact they don’t make their own tortillas. I reckon all the energy of the kitchen is directed towards the salsas as they have ten or so of the best, most diverse ones in Austin all nestled on ice and in lexan pans for the patrons to serve themselves.
It feels good in the little tiny cafe. It’s hyper lighted and scrupulously clean. One wall is devoted to photos of the food on the menu. Thankfully the food you actually get bears little resemblance to the polaroid quality photos.
I’ve eaten here for years and know this to be a good source of desebrada and today’s version does not disappoint.
The plump portion of rich beef is carefully cooked into tender shreds. It’s been held in a broth spiked with a salty bouillon that veers close to having too much sodium. Close.
I go with four salsas, each receiving a tiny strip of taco real estate to set their flavor profile upon. All are good but one, brilliant red with thousands of tiny seeds, steals the show. It is hot, hot, hot. The perfect foil to the unctuous beef.
The tortilla is non descript which is unfortunate but in this case not a deal breaker.
This road to desebrada greatness is a hard one. It simply is not a common taco filling in Austin. I’ll venture to the hinterlands for the two final reviews. Something tells me unincorporated Travis County Texas could be a desebrada hot bed.
5200 E William Cannon Dr