Tacos have their own vocabulary that I never learned in Spanish class. Like what is barbacoa, exactly? It takes on different forms throughout Mexico, but the South Texas version most prevalent in Austin is rooted in ranching traditions. When a cow is slaughtered, the head is roasted in a pit dug into the ground and lined with hot mesquite coals and maguey leaves. Every bit of the head, from the eyes to the brains, is consumed. In the Rio Grande Valley, the velvety shredded beef is traditionally eaten on Sundays with fresh tortillas, cilantro, onion, and tangy salsa. I ate all over Austin to find the best barbacoa I could; here are the ten standouts.
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Assembling a list of only 10 must-eats is difficult in a city like Austin where new restaurants and food trucks are opening constantly. With many out-of-towners visiting for SXSW, we've assembled a collection of eats that are representative of Austin's personality: barbacoa taco, rabbit and dumplings, barbecue, and more!