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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Food cart

Daily 7:00am–11:00pm

Features Outdoor dining
Bar None
Credit cards None

Hyde Park
810 E. 51st St.
Austin, TX
No phone
La Canaria
Seek out Canaria’s colors for hand-griddled masa and spectacular tacos, even late night

Teeny La Canaria’s siren song is its gaudy (but recently refreshed) yellow paintjob, scruffy convenience-store landlord, and tumbleweed litter. Experience has taught us that a lack of flash and formality can frequently be trusted where Mexican street food is concerned.

The menu’s accordingly basic: tacos, tostadas, tortas, and gorditas, with a few specials on weekends, like menudo. Crispy corn tostadas contrast nicely with their generous fresh avocado and fine smear of beans, but we’re always tempted instead by sopes, which take a bit longer to make because the masa patties are hand formed and griddled to order. The taste of freshly toasted corn dough is unbelievably good with deeply umami (not pineapple-chunky) al pastor or carne guisada. Beware: the latter gets soupy in a gordita.

Tacos are traditional, sprinkled simply with chopped onion and cilantro; get them on corn, of course. Bistec is fairly run of the mill; finely shredded, unctuous barbacoa is absurdly good. Stewed chicharrones are chewy and ample application makes them an ingredient best left to true pork-skin fiends.

The nice ladies from Veracruz and Guerrero speak limited English, which not only inspires confidence in the cooking, but a feeling that you are in Mexico. Admittedly, the fantasy is hard to hold onto while sitting on a plastic picnic table set up in the shade of Casey’s Snowballs.

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