The standard is set by restaurants such as Revolver Taco Lounge serving seconds-old tortillas, and businesses sourcing nixtamalized masa or tortillas from Araiza Tortilla Factory in West Dallas, including Taco Stop, El Tizoncito, Urban Taco, and Tacos Mariachi. At the latter restaurant, Dallas’ only Tijuana-style taqueria, octopus, and huitlacoche come on corn tortillas that leave behind the aroma of a cornfield on your fingers.
Even the Anglo-owned, recently opened Resident Taqueria handles their default flour tortillas in-house. That cauliflower taco sprinkled with crunchy pepitas -- the taco that converts haters -- it has a loose bantam base like a beloved down comforter. Corn tortillas made from nixtamalized masa is available by request and then only by availability. When Tacodeli announced the first location outside of Austin would be in Dallas, I immediately reached out to them, recommending La Norteña Tortillas, a small concern specializing in handmade Sonoran-style flour tortillas three miles from the restaurant’s location. It’s the tortilla they use now. Nearly translucent in spots, with a sweet, rich chew, the tortilla is the perfect wrap for the unassuming Otto taco, with refried black beans, bacon, and avocado combining to deliver not only sustenance but also comfort that eases you into the day.
Say what you will about Velvet Taco, but at least that restaurant -- with locations in Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and Chicago -- makes its tortillas in-house. There is no such movement toward such a seriousness regarding tortillas in Austin. Until there is, Austin can’t be the best.
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José R. Ralat is the food editor of Western-lifestyle magazine Cowboys & Indians and the writer behind the Taco Trail blog, where he reviews taquerias and explores the history of tacos. He has written for both local and national media outlets, including D Magazine, Imbibe, MUNCHIES, and Texas Monthly. Follow him on Twitter.