I recently made a weekend trip to the land of my roots, the Rio Grande Valley, to visit my folks, eat some tacos and generally enjoy life. The Valley is growing and changing rapidly, but the one thing you can still count on is cheap, authentic and delicious tex-mex.
Tacos Zarape is a gem of a place. It's located in the 77 Flea Market, which is a huge, semi-enclosed market that is open on the weekends. The Flea Market is a big deal in the Valley, and every weekend thousands of folks show up to buy an amazing array of goods from hundreds of vendors. Of course, people get hungry when they shop, so there are plenty of food options, Tacos Zarape being my favorite.
T.Z. consists of a taco truck parked outside the carport-like covering of one of the vendor stalls. There are tables inside the stall area, featuring full menu service!
The menu section I always zoom in on is labeled 'Tortillas de Harina'. You can get your tortilla plain, w/ butter, or stuffed with any number of fillings. This tells you everything you need to know about why I love this place. The freshly made, perfectly grilled 12" flour tortilla is what it's all about. This is the polar opposite to many tacos in Austin, where the tortilla is an afterthought.
I opted for two tortillas, one filled with potatoes, eggs and cheese, and the second filled with machacado and eggs. Both of these tacos were unbelievably good. I would slap a nun to find tacos like this in Austin.
The potatoes in my first taco were amazingly tender and flavorful, totally living up to the standard set by the tortilla they were living in, and the quite spicy green jalapeno salsa set everything off perfectly. The taco was served with american cheese, which might seem weird, but tasted fantastic. If I had remembered to ask for queso fresco instead, I could have had it. I sometimes really like regular old processed american cheese on things, breakfast tacos being one of them.
The machacado con juevo was also amazing. The strips of dried beef lent a salty and distinct flavor and a nice touch of fat to the taco. I was so stuffed after eating these two huge tortillas (price at $2.50 each, I might add) that I failed to orders some tortillas for later. What a loser!
Tacos Zarape - 5 stars - Cornbiter Deluxe