Before it moved to its spot on Flores Street, a half-block from City Hall, Bee’s and Sisy’s operated from a hole-in-the-wall in the cluster of 1930s buildings on Commerce Street just before one reaches Market Square. I loved that space. It was like a big city mom-and-pop restaurant — tight quarters, low ceiling, beat up tiled walls, bins full of produce, and pan dulce brought daily from its Castle Hills location.
Bee’s and Sisy’s current downtown space is more spread out and diner-like — a counter to the left, booths to the right and tables in the middle. I sat at the first table as I walked in — to take advantage of the natural light, for photos — and in one of the booths, facing me on the diagonal, was an older dude meditating with his coffee. The svelte man dressed sharp — a collared shirt (white undershirt) tucked into casual slacks that hovered over a pair of Stacys.
An older woman came in and asked me for change, but I didn’t have any. She sat at the booth next to me, while her companion, a younger woman, used the restroom.
I ordered my usual bean and cheese on corn and carne guisada on flour and improvised the rest of the order.
The carne guisada was different. Its stew was dark red and oily. Made with dried peppers, possibly. I loved the salsa on this taco.(More on the salsa later.)
The flour tortillas were also different. They were oval and slightly skewed — shaped like painters palettes. They were thick and doughy and smooth. Thick, but not hard — almost spongy.
Occasionally, the roar of a VIA bus drowned out Vincente Fernandez, but only for a few lines.
The bean and cheese on corn was very, very good. The corn tortilla was flaky, brittle in parts, but obviously homemade. Its rich corn flavor overpowered the beans. So I really had to hone in my tastebuds on the beans, which I determined were buttery, slightly watery (which is fine) and semi-coarse.
Around 8:30 a.m., the regulars began walking in and took their seats.
The potato and bacon on flour was nice. The bacon crunched like tripas. The potatoes were pretty much cooked perfectly, thought I got one that was on the rawer side.
Over the booths hung tacky Fiesta-colored Fiesta posters. Displayed across the counter was random merchandise — purses and picnic caddies.
Melones sat on the countertop; $1.70 each.
The chorizo and egg was your typical San Antonio amalgamation of chorizo and egg. It tasted fresh and was fine. But the house sauce really elevated this taco.
This sauce was a tough to figure out. Not a pure green or red, but like a greenish brown. I thought maybe it was serrano with something red mixed in. It’s flavor was excellent and it kicked me in the back of the throat a few times.
I love these types of restaurants — the San Antonio taqueria, but downtown. There aren’t that many of these types of Old San Antonio establishments left. Oasis Cafe nearby on Main and Roosevelt Buffet (a beer bar) a few blocks south on Flores, being two examples. I stole the term “Old San Antonio” from a barber in his 80s named Willie Cedillo, who’s still cutting hair at his shop nearby on Main. Five years ago or so, his wife operated a Mexican slash Columbian restaurant in this very space. Before opening his shop in the mornings, you could find him sitting on a stool at the counter. I heard Cedillo is finally going to retire soon. He’s been cutting hair downtown continuously since the 1940s. But that’s another story that has nothing to do with tacos.
I’m sure tacos were involved.
Bee’s & Sisy’s, 111 N. Flores St., (210) 271-9540
Worth traveling across town for
Average S.A. taqueria. Some hits, some 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.