The Hilton Austin is going taco-crazy with the opening of Austin Taco Project tonight, Thursday, March 9, in the heart of downtown, just in time to take advantage of those SXSW crowds. The new restaurant is all about globally-inspired tacos, in-house tortillas, and draft beers and cocktails.
The wide-ranging taco menu covers items like the Casa Blanca with Moroccan-spiced lamb, harissa, and labneh, a Thai octopus one with green papaya salad, chicken tikka with pickled grapes and green curry, and, since it’s Texas, the Wake Up!! (double exclamations intended) with smoked brisket rubbed with chili and coffee, blueberry ghost pepper crema, and apple.
Non-taco dishes range from poutine with barbacoa and poblano gravy, poke, bread pudding with doughnuts, to Korean nachos made with galbi beef tongue. Fruit-tinged hot sauces from Houston-based Bravado, like a blueberry and ghost pepper one. Happy hour will be added in April.
Eater got a sneak peek of the new colorful restaurant, which includes a patio facing West 4th Street. Inside, there are several seating options, from booths, bar stools, and standing tables for those who want to stay on their feet.
Executive chef Kevin Spencer is considered Austin Taco’s “tacologist” (the restaurant’s title). He previously ran Ser Steaks and Spirits in Dallas.
Austin Taco Project is the last piece of the Hilton Austin's extensive renovations. It replaced Liberty Tavern. The hotel’s other new restaurant, Cannon and Belle, opened last December, taking over Finn & Porter’s space. Austin Taco Project’s daily hours are from 4 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.
Another internationally-inspired taco chain, Velvet Taco, is making its Austin debut this spring as well, up in the Domain Northside.