I’ve been hearing about Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ since I moved here, and the concept makes perfect sense for Austin. Combine tacos and BBQ! After trying one of best bites of meat (short rib) of my life at Aaron Franklin’s Hot Luck Festival back in May followed by Texas Monthly’s Top 50 BBQ Joints in Texas List , I made the trek to Manchaca to get myself some meat + tortillas! Driving down the windy roads in an area I had not been before, I was excited for the adventure and stoked when I saw this little trailer and picnic table situation covered by a metal shed roof, if you will, just right off the side of the street. Jumping in line, I couldn’t wait to get started. They offer so much from (Tex) Sandwiches like Sliced Brisket and Pulled Pork to (Mex) Tacos like Cerveza Beef Fajita to Smoked Carnitas. As if that isn’t magical enough, you can order BBQ by the pound to make it a more traditional BBQ experience. When we went, the daily specials included Brisket Mexicana Torta with Pan Fried Brisket, Red and Green Salsa, Chopped Onions, and Gangsta Salsa as well as a Puerco Guisada Taco and South Side Sausage Wrap.
You order at the trailer window (they are working on a brick and mortar right behind it now!), grab your beverages aka Topo Chico or Big Red on the side cooler, and then take a seat under the shaded shelter where you really only wait 5-10 minutes for your order to be brought out to you (at least on a weekday). I’m all about making bold statements and judging food, service, and design to the core, so I’m going to go all out and say, these are the best flour tortillas I’ve ever had…in my…entire..life! They are pretty large, a little doughy, no excess floury taste, and actually holds all the stuff inside of it without getting soggy or runny. This is better than bread. You might think it’s all about the BBQ, but these large building blocks, really set up the show. The Pulled Pollo Taco which by the ways is only FOUR DOLLARS, is my favorite taco here. Large chunks of white meat carefully dressed with a dollop of sea salt lime guacamole and tomatillo salsa is so incredible you don’t even need to add anything else like BBQ sauce. I am still in awe the portion size and quality of the chicken. This is good meat!!
I like the chicken so much that the smoked brisket didn’t even compare, until the next day when I ate it cold for breakfast leftovers. Weird? Not at all. Get one to go, it’s only FIVE DOLLARS, and then let me know what you think of cold brisket. Next time, I rather try the sliced brisket by the pound on its own so I can really get into the solo flavor. However, I didn’t miss the 1.25 pound beef rib. This reminded me more of my initial short rib bite. Juicy, fatty, huge, peppery and flavorful. Yes, man.
A few notes about BBQ after this wonderful experience. It is so smart to eat BBQ in a taco because it doesn’t hit you as hard. When you get pounds of meat and sides starting back at you, it’s ambitious to try to eat everything, and when I do take it to the next level, it really is hard to eat another meal that day or even make some space for hunger. With a portioned out taco, although it is large, you get amazing salsa and smoky flavors and you’re done and feeling great. The salsas balance out the hot and heavy meat sweats.
Valentina’s really hit home for me. It was such a special and personal experience eating this amazing BBQ right on the highway. Authentic, no frills, no intense lines, very cheap and just food I can appreciate with every bite being just as good as the next. The concept is done just right and I think it’s smart they also offer BBQ by the pound, but it’s just really fun to come out to a place like this and get tacos and BBQ together in harmony instead of just checking out another BBQ joint and comparing the brisket. Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ, I salute you!