I recently got word through the New Orleans taco grapevine that an Austin, Texas native was throwing a taco pop up at Freret Beer Room just 15 minutes upriver from the Chowpapi house in the 9th Ward.
Time to gas up the Econoline and see if Taco Cat could fill a yearning for the kind of tacos you can get in Mustang Ridge, Spicewood or San Saba.They did.
They also put out the finest tacos of the series.
Taco one: In San Antonio, Austin, and San Marcos, barbacoa means cow head, boiled or roasted til the meat surrenders from the cabeza. In New Orleans it means brisket, the steer breast muscle that tastes like a boot til it’s been cooked for upwards of a day over an American hardwood fire. Taco Cat’s brisket is a supple luxury topped with chopped raw onions, fronds of fresh cilantro and a skift of emulsified green salsa.
Taco two: I spent decades ranging across Texas eating carnitas tacos. There are thousands of restaurants and taco trucks putting out pork meat, cooked in its own fat and stuffed into flour or corn tortillas. Taco Cat could open up in Smithville or Bosque County and earn a good living serving this version. These carnitas taste like they’ve been confited in good fat, then temped per order in a hot pan til crispy. Accoutrement is the same for each taco.
To round off the edges of a powerful hunger I also ordered a bracing aguachile done in the Sinaloa-style. New Orleans has the finest shrimp in the US and this ceviche did good justice to the crustaceans. Less successful was an order of flautas stuffed with whipped goat cheese.
According to the cook who made his way into the dining room, Taco Cat will eventually morph into a food truck. New Orleans is grievously underserved in that category and many of the ones we do have would be better off pursuing other lines of work.
When I lie awake at night dreaming of food before I slumber it’s always of Tex Mex. When I return home to Austin once or twice a year, I eat tacos for breakfast, dinner and supper. My record is 15 in one day. I’m like the vicar who only gets to visit the bordello once per annum. Putting up for hard times.
I have not been able to find contact information for New Orleans Taco Cat. When I do I’ll amend this article.
And here it is.