As you walk up to Olivia’s Mexican Restaurant near South New Braunfels and Steves you may wonder (like I did): How do they fit a kitchen in there along with everything else? It’s tiny, and it explains the picnic tables on a deck out front. Inside, the tables and chairs are crammed together and you might have to make some adjustments in order to fit. Old wood paneling surround the diners and there’s an letter board next to the kitchen with the list of tacos.
You don’t have to order from there. The waitress will bring you a menu. Mine was friendly and joked after I was done as to whether I wanted to take the remaining bite of carne guisada taco — the only thing leftover from a four taco order — to go.
So, yes, I nearly finished all my tacos. And yet no taco blew my mind. What it was was the flour tortillas. They’re legit enough at Olivia’s that I’ll be back at some point to try more tacos. They’re soft and chewy and almost translucent in places, which doesn’t make any sense, I know, but these are my notes.
The waitress recommended the egg a la Mexicana, and it was quite good. The egg was slightly overcooked, but fresh and hot. The diced peppers, tomatoes and onions came across as fresh, too, and the pureness of each ingredient balanced out nicely. The peppers provided a hot kick. The egg needed a little seasoning, but not a big deal.
The other tacos were up and down. The carne guisada was dry, dry, dry and lacked seasoning, but the green sauce and salt and pepper fixed it just fine. The bean, cheese and bacon (crunchy) was good, not great. The chorizo and bean was salty with strong paprika flavor and also kind of gritty from the chorizo that left a strange texture in the mouth.
And so I applied the hot sauces to most of these tacos. The red is tomato based with vinegar hints and perhaps another pepper riding shotgun that produced an attractive maroon color. The green is probably serrano and is creamy, seedy and garlicky, and added a great kick in terms of heat and flavor.
But back to those tortillas. I put these tortillas just a notch below the best I’ve had while writing this blog. They’re good enough that I want to return to Olivia’s to try more tacos. That’s what good tortillas will do for your restaurant — they give you tortilla cred.
Olivia’s, 801 Vanderbilt St., (210) 534-3016
— 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.