Taco Flats -- an Austin gem to enjoy this summer —
August 14, 2020

Taco Flats — an Austin gem to enjoy this summer

By Rose Di Grazia

taco flats

At Taco Flats, there’s only one thing to do–come for the tacos and stay for the beer!  That’s exactly what happened when I stumbled upon this place. I was driving around in the heat when I saw the sign and pulled into the parking lot. I found a cool place to come inside for a beer and great tacos.

The original Taco Flats dates back to the late 1970s, providing a stage for the likes of Gary P. Nunn, Blaze Foley, Calvin Russell, and Townes Van Zandt, among others. It reached great success among locals, but it came to an end when it closed in October 1981. It wasn’t until October of 2014 that Simon Madera, who comes from a long line of restaurant owners back in the Rio Grande Valley, reopened the taco joint.

When Madera sought to open a local neighborhood bar on Burnet Road, his research led him to previous Taco Flats owners, Linda Steele and Hector Alvarado (the original owner of Hectorʼs Taco Flats). After conversations with previous owners, Madera decided that Taco Flats should see another successful run and reopened the shop.

Taco FlatsMadera’s mother works in his kitchen today. According to him, the business has been growing like crazy. He has future plans to open a second location on the East side of town.

The nice thing about Taco Flats is no waiter is going to come over and kneel down beside you or sit at your table and do a song and a dance as he takes your order. Sometimes you want to just order and not put up with all that. This is a no-muss-and-fuss kind of place. You can come in shorts and flip flops and order immediately at the bar. The bar is a stainless steel sparkling clean counter. The bartender takes my order (the Al Pastor) taco right away. The Corona beer appears iced cold and in five seconds flat–I am no longer sweating to death after coming in from the heat.  Sports bar tubes are all around displaying a boxing match, although I can still hear the tunes of the radio overhead.

The taco contains spit roasted pork, onion, cilantro and pineapple–it’s delicious! The best part: the taco, wrapped in a homemade tortilla, is less than four bucks. Come at 2 p.m. and stay for the happy hour that goes on for four hours. There are also daily specials. The food is from the interior of Mexico with some border influences. The service and staff are great.

To have lunch here is a nice respite from the 100-degree heat. Taco Flats is clean and relaxing and has a beach bar type feel except it’s indoors and air-conditioned–thank God! White paper lampshades hang overhead from the driftwood like wooden beams. Black tray tables protrude over the booths and have gray benches. Lit neon Tequila signs adorn the walls. The place offers a laid back vibe.

This place is good for lunch or even Sunday Brunch, offering 30 different beers on tap. As far as I know this is the best taco place on Burnet Road.  Taco Flats is for everyone, but especially those who remember what Austin used to be and those who have high hopes for what it can become.

Full menu and hours available at tacoflats.com.

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