Above Photograph by José R. Ralat
Austin is undoubtedly the best taco city in America. Austinite’s endless appetite for tacos allows for conversations (and even playful arguments) on who has the best, including both veterans and businesses that are new to the scene.
I rely heavily on word of mouth on who has the best of anything. I naturally root for the underdogs as I love to see chefs and businesses grow until they reach the recognition of being amongst the best.
Recently, I found a new taco truck that sets the competition apart. Paprika and its chef and owner, Margarito, has been generating buzz in the Austin taco scene. Many who have fallen in love with their food probably heard about their delicious tacos and amazing hospitality. But it was a unique way that I stumbled upon Paprika.
During the holiday season, the generator from their food truck was stolen. I was reading their post expressing their gratitude towards the Austin community who donated and supported their business to get back up and running. That was the driving force for me to immediately try Paprika. In a way, I felt outcasted from this community who has already fallen in love with a new joint in town.
First impressions matter tremendously and my first experience was anything short of amazing. I was greeted by a cheerful woman who I later found out is Margarito’s wife.
I anxiously scanned the QR code and was nervous that they would be sold out of most of the things I have been eyeing. Thankfully, they were not. Their menu constantly rotates but I have found that carnitas, nopalitos, suadero, and bistec remain their tried-and-true staples. I have seen them also feature campechano, gulf shrimp, and their Saturday special, trompo which is al pastor.
What I immediately loved about their tacos is that each bite consists of the perfect amount of meat. I tend to not like tacos filled with finely minced meat or overwhelmingly large pieces.
What truly sets their tacos apart for me is the perfect amount of sear from the grill. Their carnitas is juicy but balanced with just the right amount of shredded pieces that are seared to perfection, giving each bite that perfect texture.
Their suadero is my personal favorite that I’ve dubbed the headliner taco of Paprika. No joke, I always check to make sure they’re not sold out before I head over.
It’s consistently the perfect size cubes of brisket confit. It’s meaty and perfectly seasoned where it does not overpower the natural taste of brisket. What highlights the suadero is how each side of the cube is perfectly seared and just a thin enough layer of fat to give the meat added flavor.
I frequent Paprika at least 2 times a week. As I started becoming a regular customer, my curiosity grew on the background of the style of cooking.
Margarito bought the truck with no initial plan on what creation he would share with the Austin community. Ultimately, it was his love for comfort food that reminded him of home that sparked the concept of Paprika. While the food resembles his hometown of Matamoros, Mexico, it’s his upbringing from the Midwest and Austin that adds a unique flair to his cooking.
Margarito shared a sentimental compliment from one of his other regulars
“The tacos are interesting because they’re a little different, and a bit contemporary while keeping the intense and authentic Mexican flavors. What’s great about Mexican food is not how complicated the flavors are, but how intense yet balanced they are. I much rather have a perfectly done carnitas taco, than some weird but mediocre invention”
Paprika plans on introducing tinga tostadas, cochinita, and a few surprises with salsa macha as future features. Make sure you follow Paprika’s Instagram @paprikaatx to be in the loop of the day’s features and announcements of when they sell out.
Paprika is located at 6519 N Lamar located in the Michi Ramen parking lot.