The World’s Best Tex-Mex Resides in San Antonio

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Tex Mex San Antonio

Chicken Nortena at Taco Taco

I ate my weight in tacos while indulging at San Antonio’s Tex-Mex eateries, many of them tiny establishments with funny hours and never-before-seen menu items. Brightly colored signs adorn childhood favorites, where I customarily ordered “an enchilada, rice and beans” before developing culinary curiosity. Such affinities endure but are now joined by chalupas compuesta; enchiladas verdes; puffy tacos; tamales smothered in red, beefy gravy; and Saturday morning chilaquiles alongside the classic breakfast taco.

I’m hungry just writing about these, my favorite offerings, and I’m currently battling an intense food coma, not to mention seemingly insurmountable pressure. I am, you see, a San Antonio native, a member of a community that places basketball and Tex-Mex above all else on a well-appointed pedestal of towering heights.

Epicureans could spend years exploring the miscellany of Tex-Mex restaurants, which is why I’ve put 30 years of dining in San Antonio towards answering the question that’s plagued me since childhood: which holes-in-the-wall offer the most delicious Tex-Mex cuisine?

BREAKFAST

Taco Taco, a tiny spot on Hildebrand, makes gargantuan flour and corn tortillas in-house. Unconventional combinations (such as the famed Nortena, filled with refried beans, onions, and peppers with chicken or beef fajitas) complement a dizzying number of standard tacos, called America’s best by Bon Appetit. Most memorable are the thick homemade corn tortillas, unlike any encountered before or since, perfectly suited to the bean and cheese taco I ordered alongside the Nortena.


My advice: order the Nortena and a standard breakfast taco but save enough room to try one of Taco Taco’s lunch plates (cheese enchiladas, pictured, for instance). Such Tex-Mex staples are among the best I’ve had.

No adventurous soul can resist trying tacos at a place called The Original Donut Shop on Fredericksburg Road. I was delighted to learn of its existence, joyous even to make a twenty-minute drive to investigate its dual ambition of perfecting donuts and breakfast tacos, two of my favorite indulgences. Although tasty, my glazed donut paled in comparison to the tacos. They hit the mark, unsophisticated yet superior to the taco one might order during late night trips to Taco Cabana (a San Antonio-based fast food chain that offers affordable and surprisingly delicious Tex-Mex).

My advice: this West Side gem is worth the drive, although nearby M&I Meat Market—a local butcher shop and grocery that sells breakfast tacos on the weekends and famous tortillas daily—proves a strong competitor.

Panchito’s formerly occupied Taco Taco’s modest edifice where loyal patrons patiently waited along the building’s perimeter; these days it’s expanded to larger venues on McCullough and Zarzamora where bright squares of punched paper dangle from the ceiling. Traditional Mexican and Tex-Mex converge over breakfast at Panchito’s, where I religiously order chilaquiles with cheese (similar to migas, this dish combines scrambled eggs with fried slices of corn tortillas). At
Panchito’s they’re accompanied by refried beans and slivers of fried potatoes, the perfect antidote to a hangover or uneventful morning.

My advice: Unless you’re craving authentic Mexican cuisine, stick to Panchito’s breakfast menu. Avoid filling up on complimentary chips and salsa, which add little value to the Panchito’s experience.

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Excellent piece on San Antonio’s finest. Tex-Mex is gold in Texas, and San Antonio is the king that has it all. Nicely done, Ms. Kerr.

Love this post, I was just telling someone the other day that I thought San Antonio had some of the best Tex Mex available. My fiancee was a private pilot, we often flew from Houston to San Antonio because we had a hankering for Tex Mex, and San Antonio was the only place to cure that hunger.

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