Cords of wood serve as a rustic wainscoting (woodscoting?) on the walls that ring this otherwise sleek spot in the Northcross Mall complex. They’re actually not full logs, but the message is clear: They grill meat over burning wood at Dos Batos.
And that smoke (and generous salt seasoning) is very prevalent in the pirata, a simple beef taco with a gooey layer of melted Jack cheese and a ridge of fresh avocado as bright as a parakeet. The pirata ($5.25), a name and format popular in Laredo, can be dressed up with a runny tomato soup salsa with a sneaky backbite, but I was left wishing Dos Batos had the kind of salsa and condiment bar you find at Taco Palenque in Laredo (and elsewhere). The flour tortilla was fatty and spotted by the grill and tender enough to pull apart with ease. Maybe the wall should be lined with flour tortillas.
There are two other tacos choices, a grilled chicken pirata and an Ostin taco (think “Austin” pronounced with a Mexican accent), which incorporates red and green peppers, red onions and mushrooms from that same smoky grill. All tacos cost $5.25, but you can order two for $9.90 or three for $14.55. You can get the steak or chicken as a hybrid, which weds the pirata with the veggies, thus negating my condiment quibble a little. The chicken hybrid was the superior taco here, thanks to juicier meat with a citrus and garlic glow and the snap, crunch and vegetal twang of the smoky peppers. The corn tortillas had almost as much heat as the flour, with firm toasty edges. Another tortilla winner from this fast-casual concept that has endured for almost a decade in North Austin thanks to simplicity, service and wood.
Dos Batos. 2525 W. Anderson Lane. #175. 512-452-0001, dosbatos.com
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