Gallery: We Try Every Taco at Tacodeli in Austin

In the taco rivalries of Austin, I'm a devout Tacodeli loyalist. The local chain first opened in 1999 and has since expanded to two more locations in the city. They offer quality tacos for everyone: staunch carnivores, vegetarians, locavores, vegans, gluten-free people, the food-adventurous, and even just picky eaters. This isn't the type of the Tex-Mex that will make you feel sick after eating it—the food is usually fresh, bright, and well-prepared. My only complaint is that they aren't open for dinner. But which is the best taco they make? We tasted every one to find out.

  • Frontera Fundido Sirloin

    The perfect taco for beef lovers—grilled sirloin pieces are glazed in Frontera Fundido, Tacodeli's signature sauce flavored with cheese. Topped with sautéed poblanos and onions, a drizzle of roja salsa emphasizes the deep flavor of the grilled beef.

  • Mexico City Sirloin

    Sirloin Taco

    This is a simple taco of not-too-flavorful beef chunks garnished with onion and cilantro. It is much improved with a bit of roja salsa. There's really no reason to order this when there are so many other outstanding beef options on the menu.

  • Cowboy Taco

    Cowboy taco

    You can’t go wrong with bite-sized pieces of beef tenderloin topped with grilled corn, caramelized onions, and roasted peppers. The citrusy guacamole contrasts beautifully with the meat.

  • Tacoloco

    Tacoloco

    This was one of the few tacos that made me ask, “Where has this been all my life?!” Tender brisket is braised until meltingly tender in adobo sauce. The shredded meat is topped with guacamole, cilantro, and queso fresco.

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  • Akaushi Picadillo

    Akaushi Picadillo

    My favorite taco here. HeartBrand Ranch ground Akaushi beef is aggressively seasoned with garlic, and caramelized onions that add a touch of sweetness. All ground beef tacos should model themselves after this one.

  • Carne Asada

    Carne asada

    The carne asada is a satisfying but unadventurous taco choice. It’s filled with bite-sized pieces of tender ribeye and topped with grilled avocado, cilantro, and onion.

  • Frontera Fundido Chicken

    Chicken Taco

    The Frontera Fundido cheese glaze does little to improve these chunks of bland chicken breast. Between the crunchy poblanos and tough chicken, you'll spend a lot of time chewing if you order this.

  • Mexico City Chicken

    Chicken Tacos

    I'm not sure why this taco even exists. Maybe it's for picky eaters? It's simply chunks of dry, flavorless chicken breast sprinkled with cilantro and onion. Pour on the salsa of your choice for moisture and flavor. It's the worst chicken option on the menu.

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  • Cowgirl Taco

    Cowgirl taco

    The Cowgirl Taco seems cleverly named after the Cowboy Taco. Again, the meat is smothered in caramelized onions, guacamole, red peppers, and queso fresco, but it contains chicken instead of beef (get it?). The chicken is pretty much flavorless—this one is all about the toppings.

  • Happy Taco

    Happy taco

    The Happy Taco was perhaps the most polarizing menu item. Pulled chicken mixed with melted jack cheese created a texture reminiscent of chicken salad. The flavor was mild, bordering on bland, but it was much improved with a drizzle of roja salsa.

  • El Conquistador

    El conquistador

    This was my favorite pork taco on the menu. Shredded slow-roasted pork is doused with a haunting red sauce unavailable on any of the other tacos. I attributed its uniquely floral flavor to the sauce's key ingredient—chile pasilla. It’s garnished with guacamole, onion, and cilantro.

  • El Pastor

    El Pastor Taco

    I’m always skeptical of ordering tacos al pastor at a place without a spit. But Tacodeli's version exceeded my low expectations—the subtly sour red sauce clings to tender pork garnished with cilantro and onion. The taco still gets a demerit because the pineapple found on a traditional al pastor was mysteriously absent.

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  • Puerco Verde

    Verde Taco

    The meat in this taco is just a carrier for the tangy tomatillo sauce, which has a hint of spice. The pork pieces were clearly just warmed in the sauce prior to serving. Any queso fresco on the taco must have disintegrated into the sauce because we didn’t see any under the cilantro and onion.

  • Shrimp Taco

    Shrimp taco

    These meltingly tender shrimp were glazed in Frontera Fundido (are you noticing a pattern?) and topped with poblano peppers and onions. One tester noticed a faint chlorine-like chemical taste that has been present more and more often in Gulf shrimp. It’s not the Tacodeli's fault, but it still distracts from the pleasure of the perfectly-cooked seafood.

  • Mojo Fish Taco

    Mojo Fish Taco

    The black drum in this taco was so fishy that it was barely edible. The mojo-garlic sauce didn't do anything to cover it. If anything, the sauce amplified the offensively strong flavors. Four thumbs down.

  • Fish Taco

    Fish Taco

    I'm skeptical of most seafood tacos in Austin, but this taco won me over. A vibrant pico de gallo was the perfect complement for these grilled pieces of Texas farm-raised catfish. There was no hint of fishiness, and the purple cabbage slaw was pleasantly crunchy.

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  • The Heather

    The Heather

    I’m always a sucker for a bean taco, especially refried black beans. But the Heather is all about the grilled queso fresco. It's sliced about 1⁄2 inch thick and blackened on the outside until crisp. The bright guacamole adds some textural contrast.

  • Frontera Fundido Portobello

    Portobello taco

    This is an okay, if boring, vegetarian option. The Frontera Fundido glaze make the portobello mushrooms a bit more interesting, and the poblano peppers and onions are a good match. Eat this one with a drizzle of roja salsa.

  • Florentino

    Florentino Taco

    A vegan taco of spinach, portobello mushrooms, red bell pepper, and onions cooked in olive oil. The sherry adds a pleasant flavor to the mushroom, but it's not the best vegan option on the menu.

  • Papadulce

    Papadulce taco

    The Papdulce is one of my favorite offerings on the menu even though the overwhelming sweetness of this taco was off-putting to some of the taste testers. Soft roasted sweet potatoes mixed with caramelized onions are topped with grilled corn, roasted red peppers, and toasted pumpkin seeds for crunch. It benefits greatly from a generous helping of Doña salsa.

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  • Freakin' Vegan

    Vegan Taco

    As the name suggests, this is a completely vegan taco filled with rich refried black beans. With the addition of zesty pico de gallo and fresh avocado, I almost didn’t miss the cheese.

  • Space Cowboy Taco

    Space cowboy tacos

    This is a vegetarian version of the Cowboy Taco with mushroom strips standing in for sirloin. The meaty mushrooms are a surprisingly satisfying, if lighter, substitute for the beef.

  • Mole Tacos

    Mole Tacos

    Tacodeli offers your choice of grilled sirloin, grilled chicken, shredded pork, or portobello mushroom smothered in a rich mole sauce of dried chiles, nuts, tomatoes, and chocolate. I don’t believe mole belongs in a taco, so I wasn’t sold on any of them. The pork was acceptable, but the grilled beef and chicken were tough. The mole portobello mushroom was much worse—the slimy mushrooms' earthy flavor clashes disastrously with the sweet mole.

  • The Otto

    The Otto Taco

    In my world, you can’t go wrong combining three of my favorite ingredients: refried black beans, bits of crispy bacon, and avocado. But it also doesn't seem like a breakfast taco without eggs...

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  • The Jess Special

    The Jess Special

    I have a bad habit of gobbling down a Jess Special almost every morning. Generous blobs of fresh avocado mixed with scrambled eggs and pockets of melted cheese make it so appealing. Onions and peppers are sprinkled throughout.

  • Migas Taco

    Migas Taco

    Of course Austin's favorite breakfast dish, migas, comes in taco form. Scrambled eggs, cheese, onions, and peppers are a great start to any morning. No complaints here.

  • Sirloin, Egg & Cheese

    Steak, egg and cheese taco

    I could hardly eat this breakfast taco overflowing with scrambled eggs and tough pieces of sirloin; the texture was impossible to get past.

  • The Popeye

    Spinach, egg, and cheese taco

    This breakfast taco is a weak concoction of scrambled eggs, cheese, and astringent sautéed spinach. It's just screaming out for some garlic or onion—I guess that's what salsa is for.

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  • The Vaquero

    Brunch Taco

    This is more of a brunch taco than a breakfast taco. Sweet corn and peppers mixed with eggs and cheese are perfect on a Sunday around noon