El Chilito

“You are going to LOVE living in this neighborhood.” Slightly biased coming from the listing agent for our apartment, as he’s handing over the keys on that very first move-in evening. But then he continued, “I live a few blocks away and there is this GREAT taco place right around the corner.” Tacos? Hmmmm…now you’re talking.

And it turned out the listing agent was right – the tacos at El Chilito on Manor Road taste great with a great price. This one room shop, staffed by an “only in Austin” combo of Latino chefs and hipster cashiers, reminds me of a 1950s ice cream shop – walk-up ordering and pick-up windows, umbrella’d outside seating, and a section of covered patio seating for Austin’s “winter.” Each foil-wrapped taco is small enough to fit in one hand, so that the other hand can hold a glass-bottled Mexican Coke (no corn syrup – yay!). But two tacos later, both JP and I are usually full – and at under $3 each, that’s one cheap meal!

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Tinga de Pollo

I can’t eat red meat, so I tend to stick with their Tinga de Pollo or Pollo Asado tacos…with guacamole (but of course!). Their chicken is so well-spiced that even my carnivorous JP usually has one chicken and one red meat taco, like their Carne Guisada taco. My all-time favorite is the shrimp taco that makes it occasionally on their list of daily specials. Being originally from the Seattle area, I tend to be a seafood snob and, let’s face it, seafood does not grow in Austin. But these shrimp tacos are the perfect blend of Seattle-quality seafood with Texas-Mexican flavor.

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Shrimp taco!

If we’re really hungry, we’ll also take home some of their freshly made chips and queso. It has a little bit of a spicy kick, but with chunks of fresh peppers and onions in the dip – I know that kick comes honestly. And lucky us, we’re within walking distance of this Austin gem.

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