While covering Austin City Limits Festival in September, I crashed with family friends living near El Chilito—if you can call a walkup window/kitchenbox surrounded by sticky picnic tables a restaurant.
Each morning before ACL, I’d stop at El Chilito (now absent the mustache seesaw), the middle child of owner Carlos Rivero (El Chile, Red House Pizzeria) and business partner Orlando Sanchez, with the same order. Eating there was cheap and staved off the rumblings that would require the consumption of overpriced, sub-par pabulum at the Austin Eats food court.
While the pleasantly chewy flour tortilla absorbed the vermillion grease released by the chorizo, on one occasio, the liquid, as delectable as it was, could have been reduced by cooking the egg with the chorizo. It was too messy. Still, it was a zippy means of starting my day. On another visit, the chorizo was browned to a muddy hue, extracting all but the slight alkalinity. It wasn’t bad. It was just disappointing considering that on my third visit the chorizo and egg was spot on.
The barbacoa had humble, earthy notes. Chunks of beef, interspersed with threads of stewy meat separated into threads themselves. It was of consistent quality and warmed my insides, preparing me for the onslaught of tens of thousands of music fans, the crowds I so dislike.
For the final day of ACL, I included a bacon, egg and cheese taco and a cochinita pibil in my order. The soft eggs revealing crunchy fragments tied together with sharp cheese increased my enjoyment of the chorizo and egg.
The pibil was a respectable example of the style. The achiote-stained meat offered no resistance to my bite. As a matter of fact, I was oblivious to how quickly I ate the taco. The onions, as plentiful as they were, skirted acridity, adding bit without inducing a wince, while the corn tortillas stayed out of the way, imparting no punchy sweetness.
Indeed, the pibil taco did its job well. Isn’t that more than I could ask for? I patronized El Chilito for expediency and nourshiment and found food beyond the necessary.
El Chilito 2219 Manor Rd., Austin 512-382-3797