There are different levels of seriousness when it comes to Mexico cookery. The hard working Mexicans at La Bandera Molino are taking the taco game to a higher plane altogether.
La Bandera Molino is a molino, which is to say it’s a grain mill, a facility where corn is ground from the whole,dry state to make masa, the most essential component of tortillas.
As near as I can tell molinos don’t exist in Austin, Texas which is why we’ll always be the weak sister to San Antonio when it comes to Mexican food.
Riding around the west end of San Antonio the dining options are endless. Multiple taquerias per city block have my mind awhirl. I really need to pull up stumps and move down to San Antonio and spend at least a year just eating and writing.
Once I get in the 300lb range I can sequester myself back in Austin and reflect back on those honeyed days of San Antonio taco life.
It wouldn’t take long if I ate regularly at La Bandera Molino.
Walking in bright and early on a recent Sunday morning a full crew of workers greet me anxiously. There’s not enough to occupy them so a patron commands their full attention.
I look about the room at dozens of brightly colored, hand-written signs extolling the goods and sundries they’re selling before settling on one in particular; “Huevos Rancheros w/ Pork Chop”. I place my order and make my way to the cash register where I pay $6.79 and make my way to the dining hall in an adjacent room.
Good handmade food takes time so when a half hour or so passes I don’t think too much about it. A grammar-school-age waitress brings me a tray of totopos cut from handmade tortillas and sputtering with fat. They’re too hot to eat, a trait you won’t find in a single Mexican restaurant in Austin.
Eventually my platter arrives and it’s a signal affair. A good half pound, deep fried pork chop straddles a couple over medium eggs. Sauteed potatoes with bits of tomatoes and jalapenos sits off to the side near a goodly dollop of refried pinto beans.
After a long night of rocking it at Iron Maiden followed by a long night of rocking it at an Iron Maiden tribute band after-party I’m flat starved so I tack into my plate like a starving dock hand.
The eggs are cooked to a perfect turn, it’s almost as if they’ve been poached, so gentle is the preparation.
The pork chop is a beauty. Thick and ruddy red it’s been deep fried but not hammered by the fat, retaining it’s elemental juicy-ness.
Sauteed potatoes have been gently cooked with fresh jalapeno then tossed with fresh tomato.
The refried pintos are rich with manteca and cooked down to almost a paste.
Two tortillas accompany my food: A flour with multiple layers like a fine pastry and a thick, rustic corn fresh from the comal.
A warm, spicy ranchero sauce sits in a monkey dish waiting to be doused over everything in site.
La Bandera Molino is wondrous. A trip through the bounty of a fine, Mexican kitchen hitting on all cylinders. I can’t wait to get back to San Antonio and make my way to their competition and see where they fit in the grand scheme of molinos in Texas.
La Bandera Molino
2619 N Zarzamora St