Brisket and Brews

Estrella Tacos y Mas

Tucked in one of the corners of Estrella Tacos y Mas hangs a poster of a cactus with words that read, "Bloom where you are planted." The restaurant's Austin, TX roots were planted in Downingtown, PA and opened two months ago, but they are strong in the local community. 

The restaurant claims to be "a lifestyle." The fun environment inside and outside gives the Downingtown community a place to hangout, grab a few beers and some great food. If the weather's nice you can catch customers hanging outside all day enjoying the food and drinks and even playing cornhole.

Estrella opens at 7 a.m. each morning, except Monday, with a full selection of breakfast tacos, are served all day. Another specially is the sopapillas, "hot sweet dough served with powdered sugar and dulce de leche." To drink, customers can get coffee drinks and breakfast cocktails, like a Screwdriver, a Bloody Mary, a "Mimosa-ish," made with Bluebird Rum, orange juice and Dressler Estate sparkling cider, or a "Monkey-mosa," made with Victory Golden Monkey, Dressler Estate sparkling cider and a "splash" of orange juice.

25 taps flow into the bar, filled by about 12 local craft breweries, most notably East Branch Brewing Co., who was our first feature. The restaurant shares the 100-plus-year-old building with East Branch and showcases a few of its brews.

East Branch even makes a house beer specific to Estrella — the Estrella Family Traditions Bock. The dark beer has a smooth taste that pairs well with the intensities of the barbecue.

Other local craft breweries on tap are Levante, Victory, Pizza Boy, Troegs, Stable 12, Yards, Root Down, Neshaminy Creek, Highway Manor, Stoudt's, and Aurochs. With so many taps, visitors are sure to find new beers every visit, whether they come in just to hang out and grab a few drinks or sit down and enjoy the awesome tacos and food from the Estrella kitchen.

The four breakfast cocktails are perfect to go with the breakfast tacos. The rest of the day, Estrella bartenders are mixing up some serious drinks. Whether you mainly stick with beer or go right for the cocktails, there's a drink for everyone. The cocktail list has 11 choices, ranging from a Margarita and Mojito to the "Chilton" and the "South Congress" vodka drinks to Smokey and Spicy Classics rum cocktails. Guests can even enjoy white or red sangria pitchers, ciders and wines by the glass or bottle.

Just like the long list of PA craft beers, many of the wines, ciders and spirits are from Pennsylvania wineries, distilleries and cideries.

The menu is packed with big flavor that matches well with the long list of local PA beers and cocktails.

Estrella brings the Texas flavors to the Downingtown-area with their smoked brisket, sausage wraps and starters. Stop in when Estrella opens and you'll find killer breakfast tacos made with chorizo, bacon, eggs, beans or Texas brisket.

But the specialty is the H-Town taco. More on this perfectly-crafted, breakfast brisket taco below.

Don't think it's all tacos at Estrella. The "Mas" still packs a punch full of flavor and has some great foods to try. When it comes to starters, many different dips and salsas are available like caramelized garlic guacamole, refried bean dip, "tres salsas," and the beer queso.

A starter specialty is the "Pop's Nachos," nachos topped with char-grilled sirloin, Estrella's cheese blend, pickled jalapeños, queso fresco, roasted jalapeño salsa, pickled red onions, cilantro and sour cream. A perfect start to a great meal, the nachos are a great mix of Estrella's homemade foods piled onto nachos.

Soups, salads and sandwiches also fill the menu. Texas Brisket Chili. Cucumber Tomato Fresca. Spicy Southern Friend Chicken Sandwich. Jalapeño-Chorizo Sausage Wrap.

These "Mas" options have me wanting to go back and get something new each time. But it's hard to even think about getting away from the tacos options: breakfast tacos, fried avocado, Texas-style brisket, carnitas, PA craft beer and bean, applewood-smoked chicken thigh, and spicy Southern friend chicken.

I want to try all of them. But even just one taco has caught my tastebuds — that H-Town Taco.

House-smoked brisket. Bacon. Refried Beans. Topped off with a fried egg and Estrella cheese blend. It's a masterpiece.

When the waiter sets this taco in front of you, the smokey smell hits you. You may wonder, "How could this taco hold all of this?" That homemade soft taco is surely strong enough to hold everything. Pick it up. You'll be blessed to see the broken yolk run down the taco, over the brisket, bacon and refried beans. Bring it closer to your mouth and nose. That beautiful, hearty smell gets even better.

From the first bite to the last, the brisket packs a punch, and mixed with the rest of the fillings, it's a perfect creation of great texture and even better tastes. Every bite is something new with the meats, egg and the refried beans on the bottom.

By itself, the taco has enough flavor, but Estrella doesn't stop there. Before you even get the food, the waiter will bring out four signature salsas with a variety of flavors —roasted jalapeño, tomato poblano, tomatillo, and an orange-colored fourth salsa. Highly recommended, the roasted jalapeño salsa gives a good kick to the hearty taco.

The food came to the table quickly after ordering it, but it was gone even faster. This brisket taco has big Texas flavor right here around Philly, and it did not disappoint.

Only being open for two months, Estrella already has their menu settled and their roots planted. For anyone looking for great tacos at an exceedingly-worthwhile price, this is the place. The Texas-style mixed with local drinks and a fun, open environment makes Estrella a must-visit.

Using Format