The name of the place is Isela’s Tacos, but it should be Isela’s Wonderful Tortillas. What filled the tortillas was good to very good, but the tortillas emerged as one of the best so far on this Tacoist odyssey.
I realize this is about the 17th time I’ve written these words. They can’t all be the best tortillas? Because then I’ll be The Boy Who Cried Tortilla. Or, can they? This is San Antonio, Texas, we’re exploring here. Or is it that when in San Antonio, Texas, you judge flour tortillas by a higher standard, because we are the standard?
What I’m trying to say is: The flour tortillas at Isela’s Tacos are excellent. They are light and kind of that perfect thinness. And they have that softness and pliability that comes from the puffing up of the taco from its time on the comal.
I was sitting in a booth next to a window, and when I opened the tacos just enough to show what was in them — for photo purposes — steam rose in the light. And it continued to rise. These tacos were made fresh.
The chilaquiles was one of the crispiest chilaquiles I’ve had with very good crunch and fresh eggs. The chips weren’t that greasy. The pepper in the taco gave it a nice bite throughout.
The papa and bean was very good, too, with its smooth and seemingly whipped beans as a kind of accompaniment to well-seasoned potatoes.
Then I made a mistake. I also ordered the huevo a la Mex, which I realize is a chilaquiles but without the chips and cheese. Again, damn good tortilla, and freshly and perfectly cooked egg that had a nice pop of flavor from the diced onions and peppers.
Finally, the chorizo and bean was too creamy. It ran. Less mass in the taco and more like a liquid. And a strong chorizo flavor — you could actually single out the paprika. Messy. So good, not great.
If you want it, the green serrano sauce was potent and watery, and the only one available.
But back to those tortillas. Yes, I recommend them. I also recommend this place. I instantly gravitated here as I was cruising Culebra Road because it looks dumpy from the outside. But inside, it was nearly spotless and a big restaurant with like 20 booths and tables. They have, like all taquerias do, an old retired dude drinking coffee and eating tacos alone who eyeballs everyone.
Isela’s Tacos is one of those places I’ll return to to further explore its menu, and to eat more of those tortillas.
Isela’s Tacos, 3650 Culebra Road, (210) 928-7980
— Worth traveling across town for
— Average S.A. taqueria. Some hits, some misses
— Mostly misses
— Benjamin Olivo
What do you think? Is there a taco I should have ordered, but didn’t? Have any taco news, issues or concerns? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.