the spot: El Norteño Pollos Asados 4925 Craigwood Drive Austin TX 78725
the eats: tacos, carnitas by the pound, chicken and ribs grilled over hardwood charcoal
the bucks: $2 a taco, carnitas $10/lb, whole chicken $17, ribs $18 a rack
the full nelson: a real deal cheap taco truck that smokes up chicken and ribs + carnitas by the pound
El Norteño Pollos Asados is the kind of Cheap Eats find you want to keep to yourself but you just can’t because good food always tastes better when you brag about it. At $2 a taco, you have a legit Cheap Eats find in Austin where far too many tacos are nestling around the $3-$4 mark. Though sized like street tacos, you will find 4 tacos will cover your craving. My instincts told me to graze away at a few of the meaty offerings but one taco stood out by a mile . . .
The Carnitas taco: best of the bunch. The meat struck that perfect balance of slightly crisped edges and moist interior. As far as the rest went . . . I kept things pretty beefy.
Suadero, Barbacoa and Asada rounded out the rest of the plate. Despite being three different cuts of beef with their own signature cooking method, all tasted oddly the same. Look, a $2 taco means meat cooked in advanced and then heated up. The barbacoa was not superbly juicy, the Suadero was not smeared in delicious fat and the Asada was definitely not fresh off the grill, but you know what? They all tasted pretty damn good. In typical Austin taco truck fashion, expect only two salsas: red and green, the latter being the ubiquitous jalapeño salsa made famous by Taco Deli(though not nearly as good). The red however is completely forgettable so the green will have to do. Still, I would hit this joint back up in a heartbeat. Especially for what I didn’t try on the menu.
You will know when you park the car, open the door and smell the smoke off the grill that getting either the ribs or the chicken is the move to make at El Norteño Pollos Asados. And since the carnitas tacos was the pick of the litter, I’ll be getting a pound of that as well.
From the signage, the clientele(no hipsters), and the location which is pushing towards the outskirts of the rapidly gentrified East Austin, you know that El Norteño Pollos Asados serves up that Bang for your Taco Buck. Can’t believe I’m spilling the beans on El Norteño Pollos Asados, but a find this good is one you can’t keep to yourself.