500 Tacos: Alcomar

An Austin taco a day for 2015 — and then some
1816 S. First St., Austin (map), 512-401-3161, www.alcomaratx.com
Hours: 11am-9pm Sun-Mon; 11am-10pm Tue-Thu; 11am-11pm Fri-Sat
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 12.18.15
I’ve been coming to this spot at South First and Mary streets for almost 30 years, long before Alcomar opened this year. It was La Reyna back then, part of a demi-dynasty of Mexican restaurants along with El Rey. The queen and king. In that respect, Alcomar shares a storyline. It’s part of the El Chile Group that includes the Mexican cafes El Chile, El Chilito, El Alma and the burger bar El Sapo. And Alcomar, too, has its queen and king: chefs Alma Alcocer and Jeff Martinez, whose cooking collaboration ships as “Alcomar,” which narrowly beat out “Almajeff,” I’m guessing. The restaurant focuses on seafood, with dishes like ceviche, octopus, calamari, crab, oysters, grilled fish and more with what they call a “Latin Coastal” influence. At lunch, Alcomar’s Latin influence includes taquitos — the first and only lobster tacos of this series.
The taco: Grilled lobster taquitos
Everything about lunch at Alcomar feels like an upgrade. Chips and salsa come first, bumped up to corn tostadas right out of the fryer with habanero-pumpkin seed salsa and mixed veggie escabeche. Frijoles graduate to white beans in a thick, savory liquor. And the taco upgrade? Well, there’s the lobster, fat chunks of pearled white meat blushing from the shell with dusky shadows from the wood grill in equal balance, its sweetness amplified by onions and poblanos just starting to sweat. Goat cheese and avocado add creamy balance, and a sharper version of that pumpkin-seed salsa focuses the flavors like a Photoshop filter. If $18 for three tacos and beans seems high, compare this trio of lobster taquitos to a pair of tuna tacos at Turf N’ Surf, sitting on a picnic table at a food trailer without sides, chips, table service or AC for $17. (Available during lunch only, 11am-3pm daily)
 Tortillas: The taco upgrade package includes handmade petite corn tortillas as satisfying as fresh crusty bread.
 If you’ve got it, flan it: Alcomar couldn’t leave flan well enough alone. Why? Because it’s even better as a savory side dish made with cauliflower and green chiles in creamy accord, with a firm outer skin just starting to glaze, like a brulee. Or a potpie. Not just one of the best side dishes of this series, but among the best sides I’ve had anywhere in Austin. ($6)
 Mimosa upgrade: How many aguas frescas in this series have made me think: If only this had some alcohol in it? Alcomar read my mind, with a sandia mimosa that brings the effervescent buzz of sparkling wine to the sweet, grainy joy of watermelon with a smack of basil. ($4 from 11am-3pm daily)
 Salsa: That habanero and pumpkin seed salsa is hot, sweet and creamy all at the same time. I wouldn’t compromise the simple joys of lobster with this or any salsa, but it’s a first-class upgrade for chips and salsa.
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)