100 Favorite Dishes: No. 31, Tacos de Cabeza y Orejas at El Ultimo

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​This year leading up to our annual Best of Houston issue, we're counting down our 100 favorite dishes in Houston. This list comprises our favorite dishes from the last year, dishes that are essential to Houston's cultural landscape and/or dishes that any visitor (or resident) should try at least once.

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I'm not alone in my love of El Ultimo, which I often consider my favorite taco truck in town (it shares space with El Tacambaro, behind the market on Airline, but El Ultimo's friendly service usually pushes it over the top). Robb Walsh named the truck his third favorite in the city, and put its breakfast tacos on his own 100 Favorites list last year.

The truck moves around, but is usually planted at the intersection of Antoine and Long Point. (That's it above, for sake of reference.) As with any good old taco truck, it only accepts cash and you'll mostly have to place your order in Spanish. On busy days, El Ultimo has a waitress who takes orders from people standing in line and relays them to the men cooking inside.

El Ultimo deals in more than just your standard barbacoa and chicharron tacos, though. And you get a lot more than just a sprinkle of cilantro and raw onions on your order. Here, your tacos are topped with a handful of queso fresco that quickly melts into the hot meat, as well as a mess of caramelized onions. You'll get your chopped cilantro, to be sure, but you'll also get a few buttery hunks of avocado on top along with everything else. They're majestic tacos, towering high and requiring nothing other than a squeeze of lime juice on top.

My favorite meats to put in the fluffy flour tortillas -- yes, this is the one taco truck where I'll recommend the flour tortillas -- are the cabeza and orejas. Cabeza is exactly what it sounds like: fatty meat scraped from the head of the cow, much like barbacoa. And orejas are slices of pig ears, a delicacy any fan of Chinese food will be familiar with. Ordering both presents a brilliant textural contrast: soft, decadently greasy cabeza and chewy, tripe-like orejas. You might never go back to a "regular" taco again.

The list so far:

No. 100: Dumplings at Heights Asian Cafe
No. 99: Mixta Pizza at Friends Pizzeria
No. 98: Veggie tacos from Radical Eats
No. 97: Bean pie from Conscious Cafe
No. 96: Swiss chard crepes from Giacomo's Cibo e Vino
No. 95: Eggs Mia Bella at Mia Bella
No. 94: Mulligatawny soup at the Queen Vic
No. 93: Helado de Lúcuma from Pollo Bravo
No. 92: Black bean burger from Natachee's
No. 91: Chupacabra pizza from ERA
No. 90: Roast chicken from El Norteño
No. 89: Eggs El Salvador from Brasil
No. 88: Frank the Pretzel from Eatsie Boys
No. 87: Caldo Tlalpeño from Tacos del Julio
No. 86: English pea soup at Brasserie 19
No. 85: Falafel from Zabak's
No. 84: Buttermilk-fried pork loin with fried eggs at Canopy
No. 83: Grillades and grits from BB's Cajun Cafe
No. 82: Haemul dolsot from Seoul House
No. 81: Pandan waffles at Parisian Bakery III
No. 80: Pita bread and hummus at Phoenicia
No. 79: Goat pepper soup at Peppersoup Cafe
No. 78: Melon and Texas feta salad from Beaver's
No. 77: Hot Italian beef from BB's Beef & Hot Dog
No. 76: Bacon-avocado burger from Facundo Cafe
No. 75: Pancakes from Fountain View Cafe
No. 74: Hobnobs from Fluff Bake Bar
No. 73: Chu chee eggplant from Nidda Thai
No. 72: Sausage sampler from King's Biergarten
No. 71: Shawarma from Abdallah's
No. 70: Moules-frite at the Broken Spoke
No. 69: Hong Kong-style French toast at House of Bowls
No. 68: Sashimi sampler at Sushi Miyagi
No. 67: Baleadas from Honduras Mayan
No. 66: Snow ice from Star Snow Ice & Teriyaki
No. 65: Boudin balls from MerCheri's
No. 64: Miso ramen at Umai
No. 63: Grim burger at Lankford Grocery
No. 62: Dabeli at Bansuri Indian Food Corner
No. 61: Wine and cupcakes at 13 Celsius
No. 60: Pâté de France from Spec's
No. 59: Steak and eggs from Ninfa's on Navigation
No. 58: Breakfast pita at Niko Niko's
No. 57: Vegan curry at Cafe TH
No. 56: Samosas at Shiv Sagar
No. 55: Ceviche at Latin Bites Cafe
No. 54: Wicked Philly at Pappa Geno's
No. 53: Pork chop at Perry's Steakhouse
No. 52: Soft-shell crab at Pico's Mex-Mex
No. 51: Sno-balls at MAM's House of Ice
No. 50: Whole catfish at Saigon Pagolac
No. 49: Nova fish box at New York Bagel & Coffee Shop
No. 48: Sojok mana'eesh at Cedars Bakery
No. 47: Pho ga at Pho Ga Dakao
No. 46: Sicilia salad at Trevisio
No. 45: Dahi puri at Sweet 'n' Namkin
No. 44: Hot dogs at Moon Tower Inn
No. 43: Real guacamole at Yelapa Playa Mexicana
No. 42: Akaushi short ribs at Soma Sushi
No. 41: Country-fried chicken livers at Haven
No. 40: Seafood gumbo at Cajun Town Cafe
No. 39: Tacos at Karanchos
No. 38: Crepes at Melange Creperie
No. 37: Gua bao at Yummy Kitchen
No. 36: Guanciale burger at Plonk
No. 35: Snapper al cilantro at Teotihuacan
No. 34: The Houstonian at James Coney Island
No. 33: The Montrose at Amy's Ice Cream
No. 32: Lobster bisque at Philippe



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Location Info

El Ultimo Taco Truck

SW Corner of Long Point and Antoine Drive, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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3 comments
Ahandal
Ahandal

went yesterday...had the cabeza tacos ( they were out of orejas)...AMAZING!!!! The owner was elated to hear that he had made the Houston Press list!

Tosshi
Tosshi

I'm lucky to live about five minutes from El Ultimo. Everything here is top notch. Tacos, quesadilla, breakfast tacos, tortas, just pick and enjoy.

Might want to update the map though, as they've moved from the car wash at Antoine and onto Jacquelyn and Long Point.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Oh, awesome! They're such nice guys. I'm really glad to hear you liked it.  :D

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