‘Taco journalist’ Mando Rayo gives his take on Austin’s best tacos

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After 10 cities, 10 weeks, 7,000 miles and 500 tacos, co-authors Mando Rayo and Jarod Neece believe they have written the definitive guide to the favorite food of the Lone Star State: Tacos of Texas.

Published by the University of Texas Press, the book outlines iconic dishes across the state, from the puffy tacos of San Antonio to the carne guisada tacos in Abilene. During a South by Southwest Conference and Festivals presentation Friday, Rayo shared his thoughts about tacos and taco culture.

“Tacos are 100 percent Tejano,” Rayo said. “Tacos were here before Texas was Texas.”

Rayo encouraged visitors in Austin to branch out from places like Torchy’s and Tacodeli. He recommended Austin’s east side in particular as a good place to find an authentic taco.

But Austinites may not agree with all of Rayo’s opinions; he admitted San Antonio has fresh tacos more readily available than the state capital. And forget about the misconception that tacos were invented in Austin, Rayo said.

San Antonio was around for 100 years before Austin even became a city, he said.

“There’s no way Austin invented tacos,” Rayo said.