When a friend suggested hitting Lone Star Taco Co. for breakfast this morning, I was confused. "I thought you went there and hated it?" I asked, remembering the story he'd told of waiting for 30 minutes at lunch—a quiet lunch, with few other tables—only to finally receive tacos that were cold to the touch.
Lone Star Taco Co.
1000 Texas St.
"Yeah, well that was when they were four days old," my friend conceded. "I'm sure it's gotten better since then." The wait, at least, has gotten better: our breakfast tacos came out in under five minutes when we visited Lone Star Taco this morning around 8:30 a.m., though the kitchen still seems to be suffering a bit.
Plumes of smoke billowed out of the open kitchen after we picked up our order; had my chorizo-and-egg taco caused some sort of minor grease fire? Employees propped a few doors open to get the smoke and smell out of the new downtown restaurant, which just opened in mid-May on the corner of Texas and Main, replacing a short-lived satellite location of Kobecue (side note: all the locations of Kobecue are now closed, sadly). Before that, it was S&T Restaurant, and before that it was yet another in a long line of restaurants that never quite make it here.
Before long, the smoke had cleared, but—despite the heat coming out of the kitchen—the tortillas on our breakfast tacos were stone cold, as if they'd been pulled from a walk-in cooler just prior to being filled with eggs and meat. Thankfully, the fillings themselves were warm (though just warm; not hot) and decent. The chorizo in my taco had the slick, gritty texture of sausage that had been ground to a paste, and reminded me of the Soyrizo I occasionally pick up when I feel like eating a bunch of Mexican breakfast sausage but not a lot of pork. My "Old Betsy" taco was the better of the two: scrambled eggs topped with crisp tortilla strips, pico de gallo, cheese, and avocado. Still, I don't see Lone Star Taco Co. giving Brothers Tacos down on Dowling—the traditional breakfast taco spot for downtowners—a run for its money any time soon.
Then again, I don't think Lone Star Taco is aiming to grab up that Brothers Taco demographic. The restaurant and its menu are evocative of Torchy's Tacos; these are Austin-style breakfast tacos, filled with brisket or pork chops or breaded tilapia and sporting names like the Ross Perot and the Sissy Spacek. And until Torchy's decides to open a downtown location, I imagine Lone Star Taco will do alright here in the thick of the central business district. (Edit: I'm told that Lone Star Taco Co. is run by the same owners as Texas Taco Co., the company that was recently sued by Torchy's for allegedly stealing Torchy's recipes.)
Gleaming, amber growlers used as decoration around the restaurant and a sign outside for an as-yet-operational "wine bar featuring local beers" indicate that Lone Star Taco also aims to get the happy hour crowd in its doors and on its wrap-around patio, although competition on that end will likely be fiercer. Flying Saucer and its eternally packed two-story beer hall are only a block away; equally popular bars Sambuca, Shay McElroy's, and Molly's Pub are even closer, though none of these four establishments offer a growler program.
That might be jumping the gun, however, because if Lone Star Taco Co. doesn't start focusing on its food, whether or not the wine and beer bar gets up and running could be a moot point. All of the reviews on Yelp, for example, offer the same complaints of long wait times and cold food. I normally take Yelp reviews with a grain of salt, except when they all start to echo one another. Now, in its fledgling weeks, would be a good time for Lone Star Taco to take those complaints seriously too. I'd hate to see yet another restaurant come and go here, and Lone Star Taco has the potential to draw a steady crowd if it can at least warm up its tortillas first.