Mr. P’s, 1601 Guadalupe St.

Mr. P’s, located in the heart of the West Side on Guadalupe Street, is not a taqueria or a truck or even a trailer. It is, I guess, what one would call a souped-up taco stand with indoor and patio seating.

This tiny converted home, and former raspa stand, offers a limited assortment of breakfast tacos, barbecue tacos of brisket and chicken, and other items like hamburgers and sandwiches, mangonadas and strawberrynadas. It’s all served from a window that faces Guadalupe. Or, you can order from a couple of spots inside the gate.

The piping hot bean and cheese was good, with really tasty and simple homemade beans; and maybe the best quality cheese I’ve had — must be Tillamook or something. The smoked brisket and chicken tacos were both good. The chicken, which comes with pico de gallo, had a really nice smokey flavor and was well seasoned. The brisket was solid and chopped some. It was all fresh, and I left the place feeling not weighed down — as is the case with most taco experiences in San Antonio — but like I had eaten healthy.

Mr. P’s, 1601 Guadalupe St., (210) 574-1419

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Worth traveling across town for
Average S.A. taqueria. Some hits, some misses
Mostly misses

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

Maria’s Cafe, 1105 Nogalitos St.

Ordering at Maria’s Cafe is an experience unlike any I’ve had in San Antonio. The standard array of San Antonio tacos is on display in a diner-like letter board. Look around and you’ll find specialty tacos written on additional signage like the Taco Loco #2 (wieners, papas, beans, cheese and pico de gallo; also recently named a Great Taco) and the Taco Ondo (papas, egg, carne guisada gravy, bacon and cheese; above).

A handwritten sign near the kitchen window shills a taco called El Hugo, a slice of brisket, an over-easy egg and pico de gallo — a combo you’d find easily in Austin, but that’s embraced here. There are even off-the-menu items Maria’s super fans describe such as the enchilaco, a single beef or cheese enchilada inside a puffy taco shell.

Friends have been telling me about this place for years, and now I know why. Everything about Maria’s Cafe was simply wonderful. Perfect flour tortillas and excellent fillings. Everything’s fresh, including a very seedy and coarsely chopped pico. I cannot emphasize enough the freshness of the food that comes from that kitchen. I don’t know everything there is to know about Maria’s. Its menu is one that you keep exploring. “It’s the real deal” says the sign outside. They’re not BS-ing.

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Maria’s Cafe, 1105 Nogalitos St., (210) 227-7005

Worth traveling across town for
Average S.A. taqueria. Some hits, some misses
Mostly misses

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

Great Tacos: Taco Loco #2 at Maria’s Cafe

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Taco Loco #2 (wieners, papas, beans, cheese, pico de gallo); Maria’s Cafe, 1105 Nogalitos St.; (210) 207-7005; 6:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Friday; 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday

You could throw a dart at the menu at Maria’s Cafe, a near South Side taqueria pillar, and hit a great taco. Maria’s is that good. If I could describe the food there in one word, that word would be “freshness.” I don’t know, but Maria’s might be my favorite taqueria.

Of all the great tacos Maria’s has to offer, the Taco Loco #2 — an assembly of wieners, papas, beans, cheese and pico de gallo — was the most memorable. With flour tortillas quite excellent, they assemble together wieners, papas, beans and cheese. On top of it all is about the freshest and best pico de gallo I’ve had so far writing this blog. It’s one of those roughly chopped picos with the small chunks of serrano pepper — seeds and all. The tomato and onion are chopped just as coarsely.

The entire taco, again, is fresh. It’s one of those crazy mixtures where all of the ingredients really work together. The combo of ingredients may seem all thrown together and random, a la a trash can-style taco, but this isn’t the case with the Taco Loco #2. The bean and cheese on the flour tortilla is the base of the whole thing, but well cooked and seasoned potatoes and wieners elevate this taco into Great Taco status.

Other Great Tacos

Carne guisada at Mi Celayence, 2903 Fredericksburg Road

Chicharron en Salsa Ranchera at Mama’s Kitchen, 504 Hildebrand Ave.

Ham and egg at Mendez Cafe, 201 Bartholomew Ave.

Taco Mexicano at Yatzil, 502 S. Zarzamora St.

Have any taco news, issues or concerns? Email me at

Taco Fest to hit La Villita just before Fiesta

Except more taco-themed events popping up this year.

From the folks behind the Maverick Music Festival now comes Taco Fest: Music y Más, slated for noon-11 p.m. April 14 at La Villita. Consider Taco Fest a primer to Fiesta (April 19-29), which is like the ultimate taco festival, as it’s scheduled for the Saturday before the kick-off.

The press release promises more than 30 taquerias and more than 20 bands and DJs.

Participating kitchens include Chisme, Tommy’s Restaurant, Soluna, Tomatillos Cafe y Cantina, Don Pablo’s, Garibaldi Mexican Restaurant, La Casa de Barbacoa, Los Cocos Mexican Restaurant and Frutería, Mr. Meximum, Chela’s Tacos and Marioli. According to the release, each eatery will offer at least one taco at priced $2.

Musical acts include La Santa Cecilia, Brownout Presents Brown Sabbath, Santiago Jimenez, Jr., Girl in a Coma, Money Chicha, El Conjunto Nueva Ola, Piñata Protest, Femina-X, Bombasta, Los #3 Dinners, Grupo Frackaso, and Eddie & the Valiants.

“Taco Fest is a long overdue celebration of San Antonio’s favorite food,” said Taco Fest creative director, Jim Mendiola, who is part of the same production team behind the Maverick Music and the Día de los Muertos festivals, among others. “From foodie tacos to classic breakfast tacos, we will showcase in one place the amazing diversity of tacos that make San Antonio famous.”

Tickets range from $15 to $75; kids 10 and younger admitted free. Visit for more info.

Other taco events to keep an eye on include the Twisted Taco Truck Throwdown, usually held in May at the VFW Post 76, which turned seven last year. I like that one because all participating trucks are told to provide at least al pastor tacos for $1.

Finally, ¡Taco Libre!, an event that began in Dallas and expanded to Austin last year, is planning to land in San Antonio this year, but has yes to find a date.

(Re)introducing The Tacoist newsletter

I just couldn’t quit being The Tacoist.

With renewed motivation that comes with a new year, I’ve decided to bring back The Tacoist, but in newsletter form only. Here’s the plan: I’ll continue to eat tacos — because, one must if they’re to call themselves a San Antonian — and I’ll give my thoughts of them via Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. I’ll then use those posts to build a monthly newsletter.

Yes, this is definitely more doable and realistic than trying to write complete reviews for every taqueria I visit being that I have a full-time job.

Though The Tacoist will live mostly through newsletter — right now, the name is the S.A. Taco Report, but I’m welcome to suggestions — I plan to write the occasional essay and continue adding to the Great Taco list to keep the site alive. Hopefully, some point down the road, in two years maybe, I can make this my full-time job and the reviews and features will return.

So please, if you haven’t already, sign up for the newsletter. The first one launches Friday, Jan. 5!

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Oh, and don’t forget that there’s merch for sale, like this “Body by Tacos” onesie. (Hey, I have bills to pay.)

Los Habaneros, 4614 Callaghan Road

Written on a window at Los Habaneros were the words “Homemade Tortillas Flour & Corn.” But at this restaurant near Holmes High School, the emphasis was on the corn.

In my order of four tacos, I had a machacado and egg on one of the best corn tortillas I’ve had. The tortilla was fresh, wrinkly and flaky, like it had just come from puffing up on the comal. The machacado was seasoned excellently — like any good beef jerky or dried meat, the flavor lasted as I kept chewing. The well-cooked egg was kept to a minimum and mixed in well with the meat and diced veggies, which were more soft than crispy.

The rest of the tacos were ordered on flour tortillas, which were across the board good, but also inconsistent in preparation, it seemed.

For example, on the papa a la Mexicana, the tortilla was chewier than the others. However, the filling was excellent. The potatoes were well cooked and perfectly seasoned. The whole mixture, essentially pico de gallo with potatoes added, tricked me into thinking there was a sauce. It was that flavorful.

The tortilla I had with the carne guisada was very, very good. It was pillowy soft and ideal for soaking up the stewy bits. This carne guisada fell apart to the point that it seemed shredded. As for the seasoning, the dish was more meaty and had way more pepper than salt.

The bean and cheese with bacon was the lone misstep for me.

I couldn’t get a read on the beans — they were on the denser side and not smooth and creamy like I prefer. The fat from the bacon helped provide flavor, as it always does. This flour tortilla was one of the softer ones, but I detected a little bit of fat cooked in, possibly from the bacon.

For the order, the waitress brought a cooked and chunky salsa to go with a homemade bottled green sauce — both about average

Going back to the tortillas … I must be clear: The flour weren’t bad. They were all tasty. The treatment of each seemed to vary. That’s all. With that corn tortilla, though, no question it’s greatness.

Los Habaneros, 4614 Callaghan Road, (210) 444-9260

Worth traveling across town for
Average S.A. taqueria. Some hits, some misses
Mostly misses

Ben 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

Cheese As an Accessory? A Mr. Taco Story.

The details of the events I’m about to describe are hazy. So many years have passed — and alcoholic beverages slammed — since certain tacos were ordered, since certain hurtful words were spoken amongst close friends.

It must have been the late ’90s or early 2000s. We were at Mr. Taco past 2 a.m. because — why would you go there while the bars were still open? Everyone in our group of four or five ordered their favorite tacos. But only one is relevant to this post:

“Bean and egg with cheese.”

This is how Puff (his actual nickname) ordered this taco.

Seems straight forward. You get a bean and egg — not as common as a bean and cheese, but not exotic either — and add cheese. Except Mr. Taco always botched the order. Instead of “bean and egg with cheese,” the cooks would make, and the waitress would deliver, a bean and cheese, usually.

So the group suggested to Puff that maybe he switch up his ordering method. Maybe order a bean and cheese — this being San Antonio’s signature taco — and ask them to add egg? It’s less confusing this way.

He refused.

“Bean and egg with cheese!” he’d say with righteous indignation.

Puff always complained about the service at Mr. Taco, but the reason he complained about the service was because they always fumbled his favorite taco. He loathed Mr. Taco for this reason. Mr. Taco is long gone, but it’s a grudge he still holds today.

“They got it wrong,” Puff told The Tacoist in a recent interview. “Every time, they forgot the egg.”

It became a debate every time we set foot inside Mr. Taco. Every time we went there, drunkenly, we told him, “Order a bean and cheese . . . with egg!” Every single time.

“I wasn’t going to bend,” Puff said. “I wasn’t going to break on how that taco should be ordered.”

. . .

La Huasteca #3, 3905 San Pedro Ave., is the sight of the former Mr. Taco.

It seems San Antonio’s nightlife eras can be measured by where tipplers flocked to to throw a munch after the bars closed. Mi Tierra has been holding down the downtown fort for decades. If you were partying on the northwest side of town, it’s Chacho’s.

“When it came to the post 2 a.m. taqueria wars, Chacho’s and the King Kong nachos destroyed Mr. Wacko,” Puff said.

But if you were partying late into the night on the St. Mary’s Strip, in the gay clubs on Main Avenue, or anywhere in the SAC area — and you’re currently in your late 30s or 40s — you drove drunkenly to Mr. Taco.

This was before Uber. You would have found your way to Mr. Taco after a night of drinking at Joey’s or Taco Land — the original Taco Land and not the soulless abomination that’s there now. This was before Las Salsas. The Pearl may still have been brewing beer. During this time, in the late 1990s, early 2000s, the St. Mary’s Strip — the White Rabbit and all — was on the decline.

San Antonio was much less Austin, then.

Now, the Mr. Taco building is inhabited by La Huasteca #3. The tacos are probably about the same quality, to be honest, but the hours of operation are less nocturnal.

If I remember correctly, Mr. Taco was open 24/7. This meant that after 2 a.m. the place became lively and filled with drunks — myself included.

“It was a crazy ambiance,” Puff remembers. “You had people from all walks of life, plus the little bar in the back.”

Sometimes we’d get there early, like at 11 a.m. or even midnight, to beat the 2 a.m. rush. If you really want to go back in time, Mr. Taco was located at the current Web House Cafe and Bar on Blanco Road and Ashby Place before it moved to the San Pedro location.

“I would say once they moved to San Pedro, the crowd was more mainstream,” said The Palate, my taco-tasting buddy who’s a frequent contributor to this blog. “At the original location, that was more sort of the Main street neighborhood — the club kids, party-goer types, the (cross-dressers).”

But the San Pedro location is the one that sticks in people’s memory. Maybe Mr. Taco closed in the mid 2000s? I’m not sure, I’ve drank since then.

. . .

Technically, Puff’s entire interview for this piece was off the record, so I’m not supposed use his quotes.

“I guess you’ll disparage my name to sell some T-shirts,” he said.

. . .

I forget her name, but our waitress was a San Antonio original — a short Hispanic lady with long and brightly-painted fingernails that crossed each other as she gripped the pen to jot our orders. She wore brightly-hued eyeshadow, and she had my order memorized.

Soon after Mr. Taco closed, us drunks took the party to Las Salsas. I remember she got a job there and I asked her — drunkenly at 2:42 in the morning, probably — why Mr. Taco had closed. Why? Is it over? Is the dream dead? She basically told me that Mr. Taco was a time and a place and that it was dead and never coming back and that that’s life baby and to get the #@!* over it already.

Were the tacos really that good? I remember them to be magical. After 2 a.m., I guess, all tacos are magical. I remember going there in the daylight one time and Mr. Taco was just another Mexican restaurant. There was no magic, no spectacle, no club kids.

I remember they’d bring the tacos wrapped in wax paper sheets. I still haven’t seen that treatment of tacos anywhere else in San Antonio. The barbacoa always stood out because the grease would soak right through the paper.

The wax paper also added a little extra drama when Puff would open his taco, to see if they would get it right this time. We knew better — they’d mess up the order again.

This is undebatable. The question that we debated, heatedly — and still to this day — is: Who’s at fault?

. . .

The former Mr. Taco building on San Pedro Avenue and Olmos Drive.

In conclusion, I pose these existential questions:

Is the taco a bean and egg with cheese? Or, is it a bean and cheese with egg?

Puff’s rebuttal was two-fold:

• Bean and egg was listed on the Mr. Taco menu.

• Cheese is an accessory not a main ingredient. You order such-and-such taco … with cheese.

Puff was ordering on principle. But isn’t the point to get the correct taco delivered — especially when you’re buzzed and hungry?

“At 2:30 in the morning, they don’t hear ‘bean and egg with cheese’,” The Palate argued. “All they hear is ‘bean and cheese.’ That’s the most popular taco . . . I don’t care if it’s on the menu, it’s 2:30 in the morning.

“You can’t blame Mr. Taco, you can’t blame the service. That’s your fault if they can’t get it correct.”

When Mr. Taco finally closed, Puff was beside himself.

“I think I drove down there during the day and it was shut down,” Puff said. “The only word that came to mind was ‘justice.’ Justice was served.”

The only word that came to my mind? Sadness.