Taco Tuesday: El Primo on South First Street

Much has changed over the years on South First Street. But one thing that has remained consistent on the South Austin artery for the past 13 years is the consistently great service and tacos coming from the tiny El Primo trailer that sits at the edge of a parking lot in front of Once Over Coffee, Sekret October and Pecan Food Mart.

Barbaco, pastor, migas and carne asada tacos from El Primo. (Matthew Odam AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

If you’ve visited once, you’re undoubtedly familiar with the affable man many simply call “Primo,” though his given name is Humberto Reyes. The Michoacán native works quickly and with a deft touch, scraping and flipping the eggs for his migas taco just as they begin to toast and the cheese starts to melt into the middle of the pile. Reyes does fast work at the grill, turning out breakfast tacos (all $2.25) and meatier lunch tacos ($2.50 on corn and $2.75 on flour) for devoted regulars of the cash-only trailer. When he’s not manning the grill, it’s his brother-in-law and fellow Michoacán native Jose Luis Perez.  These guys get the glory, and Perez’s sister Guadalupe gets some recognition working the register, but it’s the rarely seen Anna Reyes, wife of Humberto and sister of Jose Luis, who makes this operation hum.

El Primo on South First Street. (Matthew Odam AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

She works at a commissary kitchen cooking pastor finely chopped so that you can’t differentiate the fatty pieces from the lean; finding balance in shredded barbacoa; and grilling salty nibs of carne asada for one of the best valued beef tacos in town.

Reyes and Perez prefer to serve their tacos on corn (though not the artisanal black corn tortillas they recently brought back from Mexico that are kept hidden out of site from customers). But they do serve one of the best migas tacos in town, studded with smoky deli ham, in flour. The corn and flour tortillas come from a local tortilla company (they might tell you if you ask, but I’ve been sworn to secrecy) and are some of the best bagged versions I’ve ever tasted. The tender corn ones are imbued with a mellow sweetness, and the flour are tossed on the flattop and billow as they toast. Anna Reyes also makes the two salsas, a tomatillo that is more floral that fire and a rust-colored chile de arbol packed with dusky sting.

With amazing value, great people and a tenure that would be the envy of almost any restaurateur, El Primo is one of the true gems of South Austin.

The order: migas on flour ($2.25), pastor on corn ($2.50) and carne asada on flour ($2.75).

El Primo. 2001 S. First St. 512-227-5060, Facebook

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All breakfast tacos at El Primo cost $2.25. (Matthew Odam AMERICAN-STAESMAN)