By Kristen Cabrera - Arts & Culture, Food & Drink, Texas Standard Original
Austin is known for its trendy food scene, but a lone stretch of “diamond-in-the-rough” food spots and taquerias have earned the moniker “Austin’s Taco Mile.” They prove once again it’s best to not judge a book by its cover.
And who else would we invite to talk to us about the taco mile but the Taco King himself – Mando Rayo. He’s a James Beard Nominee, a taco journalist and host of the podcast “Tacos of Texas” and he spoke with the Texas Standard on his experience on the Taco Mile and how its existence shows a history of gentrification, but also a celebration of immigrant culture.
Texas Standard: So paint a picture of Austin’s Taco Mile, would you? What is it? What does it look like? And where is it?
Mando Rayo: Yeah, if you head outside of the trendiest spots in Austin, Texas, you got to go to where immigrants go and eat. And that’s off of Rundberg Lane and Lamar. Out of that stretch of one mile, there’s over 40 places to get yourself a taco spot. But it’s not just that. It’s also taco cousins: there’s immigrants from Mexico, but as well as Central America. So you got pupuserias, you got quinceañera shops, tire shops. You have abarrotes Mexicanos. So, in a sense, it’s the barrio, if you will, that’s still kind of in the city of Austin that, you know, unfortunately goes unnoticed a lot of these times because they’re not trending on Instagram or what have you.