One of the state’s best new taco trucks is owned by a trio of folk dancers – Texas Monthly


When Edgar Yepez dances, you can’t look away. He slides and turns with the seemingly effortless skill of a man who has been studying traditional Mexican folk ballet for 31 of his 37 years, which he has done. In Oaxaca danza de la pluma (“Dance of the feather”), Yepez wears a multicolored semicircular feathered headdress while jumping and then spinning on one foot. He is flanked by four other dancers, each wearing a similar headdress and shaking rattles while wearing brightly colored and intricately patterned embroidered costumes. Rattles punctuate a musical number dominated by horns. It’s a rousing patriotic performance by the indigenous Zapotec community of Yepez’s homeland.

Yepez grew up in San Juan Bautista Tuxtepec, a mountainous town of about 100,000 people in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. He remembers seeing a folk ballet at the annual Guelaguetza festival celebrating indigenous arts, crafts, culture and food. Six years old and in love at first sight, he begs his parents to let him take lessons. Folklórico, the Spanish name for performing traditional regional Mexican dances, is an expensive art. Her father didn’t approve. To pay for the leather dance shoes and elaborate costumes, Yepez’s mother sold tortas to patrons who stopped at the bus terminal in front of the family home. In 2007, Yepez moved to Austin to live with his family. Six years later, he attended a folk festival in Houston and was so thrilled with the experience that he started his own dance company, the Austin Folklórico Ballet, in 2015.

Funding the effort was not easy. To raise funds, Yepez turned to the only other constant in his life: the kitchen. He enrolled in tamale making classes. When he felt competent enough, he sold the tamales to help pay for the costumes. He also took jobs in restaurants. For Yepez, the similarities between dancing and cooking are disturbing. “Both feed the soul,” he says. Watching Yepez – a man of medium height, sturdy build and tanned skin – dance is to feel the same wave of emotions as a guest when he discovers a dish that changes his life for the first time. There is goosebumps, waves of joy in the chest and a longing for more. A similar sensation arises from observing the assertive footwork of tapping and stomping in several regional dance styles, including Veracruzan, Sinaloan, and Chihuahuan. Yepez’s dream of owning his own business began with a studio in his garage. Soon after, his friends Luis Fernando Baes and Sonia López joined the group as dancers. (They now have a suitable space at the Oswaldo AB Cantu / Pan American Recreation Center in East Austin.)

This year, the trio got into the restaurant business when an acquaintance approached to take over a food truck. “It was something that we had occasionally discussed for years,” Yepez says. “I also wanted to bring more Oaxaca to Austin.” Friends named the truck Los Danzantes (“The Dancers”) ATX. From the start, they planned to offer a menu reflecting their hometown: Yepez’s Tuxtepec, Oaxaca; Tonalá de López, Jalisco; and the Palo Alto de Baes, Aguascalientes. Baes’ dedication to folklore and food truck is so strong that he commutes daily from Marble Falls, over an hour northwest of Austin.

When I pulled up, the truck had only been in operation for three months in the parking lot behind the Far Out Lounge and Stage on South Congress. It shares the yard with a lobster truck, a sandwich trailer, a second bar and two outdoor stages. But Los Danzantes ATX draws the biggest crowd. The truck glows red and is adorned with a chalkboard menu, as well as a table decorated with plants and salsas prepared and potted by López. The flags of the Papel Picado fly above our heads. When I visited, standing in front of the trailer window was Yepez, his hair held back by a wrapped bandana tied around the hairline. While Yepez is the boss of the dance troupe and López and Baes are members, the latter two take care of the cooking. “I’m nothing more than their assistant,” Yepez opposes.

Los Danzantes owners (from left to right): Luis Fernando Baes, Sonia López and Edgar Yepez.

Photograph by José R. Ralat

Los Danzantes Austin Texas

The Los Danzantes truck is parked in the parking lot behind the Far Out Lounge and Stage on South Congress.

Photograph by José R. Ralat

Left: Los Danzantes owners (left to right): Luis Fernando Baes, Sonia López and Edgar Yepez.

Photograph by José R. Ralat

Above: The Los Danzantes truck is parked in the parking lot behind the Far Out Lounge and Stage on South Congress.

Photograph by José R. Ralat

Make sure to try the tlayuda, which represents Tuxtepec. Most diners familiar with the large crispy corn tortilla dish have heard it described as a “Mexican pizza” as it is sometimes served flat with toppings: fried black beans, Oaxacan quesillo cheese, lettuce, tomatoes. and maybe some meat. The comparison is inaccurate; the dish is more like a crisp and intimidating quesadilla. At Los Danzantes, it is served cut in half, with the segments stacked and topped with the protein. For this, I ordered the cecina. In Oaxaca, cecina usually refers to salted pork rubbed with chili. In Los Danzantes, it is the most common salted and aged beef, a nod to the Aguascalientes de Baes. The meat is served as a flat-grilled flank steak, caramelized in places. The beef retains its juiciness. Take a bite of it between devouring thick folded tlayuda.

Next are the ubiquitous beef birria tacos, which Yepez recommends ordering without cheese. López, who makes the birria, believes the addition of cheese is defamatory. When I asked her why the rejuvenating rich consomme taco order is served with beef and not the traditional goat like you find in Jalisco, she scoffed. “I don’t like the taste of goat cheese,” López retorted. “In my city, beef is the meat most often used in birria. It’s also how my mom taught me. Los Danzantes ATX version recognizes the on-trend beef variety with its consomme-soaked tortillas. The filling has a comforting and tangy flavor.

López also makes the Caramelized Peach Chocoflan, a chocolate cupcake topped with the beloved Mexican creamy custard. The chocoflan is a staple in Mexican bakeries. I was delighted to hear that it is available fresh at Los Danzantes, and I was not disappointed. I couldn’t help myself and ended the bantam service.

Yepez and company are just getting started with Los Danzantes. In addition to testing Mexican bacon-wrapped hot dogs, they plan to add chascas, which are Aguascalientes-style elotes (grilled street corn) served with peanut and arbol chili salsa and marrow. bone. “We’re just waiting for the right moment to present it,” Yepez says. That time could be when the operation moves to a bigger truck in October. It is well-deserved growth. Young as it is, Los Danzantes ATX is already one of Austin’s best trucks and one of the best openings of the year in the state. You will give him a standing ovation when you come back to order the chocoflan.

Los Danzantes ATX
8504 S. Congress Avenue, Austin
Telephone: n / A
Hours: Monday, Thursday and Friday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday from noon to 8 p.m., Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

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