Eats Beat

This new ‘Texas taqueria’ is named Austin City, but the flavor is all Fort Worth

The name is Austin City Taco Co., but the heritage is all Fort Worth.

A Fort Worth owner teamed with former Reata chef Juan Rodriguez of Magdalena’s to design the flashy new Texas-themed taqueria, 517 University Drive.

Think of a taqueria with oak-smoked brisket or achiote rotisserie chicken and housemade blue corn or flour tortillas.

The “Austin” is all attitude, no fact. (Austin City Taco isn’t alone: The Schlotzsky’s sandwich chain just went back to its roots as “Schlotzsky’s Austin Eatery,” and Irving-based Hoffbrau has never hidden its Austin and Longhorn origins.)

Breakfast tacos — not an Austin original but popularized there — start at 7 a.m. with $3-$4 migas tacos, or there’s also a “midnight craving” taco with eggs, brisket and bacon jam.

The main menu features a sliced brisket taco on a flour tortilla that might as well be a sandwich ($5.95). Most of the tacos feature chopped brisket or rotisserie chicken, but there’s also shrimp tacos and pork tacos al pastor with pineapple and jalapeno sauce.

For dessert, there’s soft-serve gelato with honey-oat cereal.

Rodriguez still runs his Magdalena’s pop-up dinners, but helped design the Austin City recipes and menu.

“It’s sort of Central Texas-barbecue-meets-the-taqueria,” Rodriguez said on a recent episode of the Eats Beat podcast.

He’s proud of the sauces, particularly the guajillo. There’s a habanero and a creamy jalapeno, and spicy queso for the fries.

Last year, he talked wirh owners “and we hit it off,” Rodriguez said. The primary owner is Cameron Powell, a University of Texas graduate.

They picked out a busy University Drive corner at West Fifth Street across from J&J’s Oyster Bar near Deep Ellum Brewing.

(To answer the familiar west side question “What used to be there?” — the site was recently home to The Grotto, and years ago was a Good Luck Drive-In like the one on West Rosedale Street.)

The building boom isn’t done on University. A bar-and-grill named the Cookshack is expected across the street, owned by a Dallas restaurateur who used to own some Cheddar’s locations.

Austin City Taco is open at 7 a.m. daily except Sunday; 817-945-1234, austincitytaco.com.

Columnist Bud Kennedy is a Fort Worth guy who covered high school football at 16 and has moved on to two Super Bowls, seven political conventions and 15 Texas Legislature sessions. Since 1985, he has also written more than 2,000 “Eats Beat” columns about Texas dining, restaurants and food.
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