Bee’s & Sisy’s, 111 N. Flores St.

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
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

Mi Casa, 700 Santa Rosa Ave.

You had me at pork chop, Mi Casa.

This Mexican restaurant is located downtown, technically. It’s on the outskirts, in that weird retail strip along Santa Rosa Avenue. A buddy of mine raved about this place years ago, and it’s been in the back of my mind since.

I can see why. There’s a quality to all the tacos that I had at Mi Casa — the fillings, the tortillas, the hot sauce — I could tell instantly there was some talent behind the kitchen door.

The pork chop taco was a surprise. I was expecting an actual bone-in chop but what was delivered was the chop cut into strips. It had some kind of delicious rub and it was charred just right. Delicious as is, but then the green sauce sends this taco into another level. The strips were tucked into a good flour tortilla — soft and chewy.

The bean and cheese was near perfect. The beans were excellent, and they were joined by moments of bite from the sharp cheddar. I ordered this one on corn (I’ve been ordering my bean tacos on corn for some reason, lately) and it was really good — handmade thick tortillas with really good corn flavor.

The carne guisada was very good. A strong chili powder flavor hit immediately. And this is one of those carne guisadas that has the jalapenos and onions and bell pepper mixed in adding more layers of flavor. The whole thing was well seasoned, and the meat was tender enough.

What I loved about the chilaquiles was their cheesiness. They must be using Tillamook or something because that was high quality cheese. Loved the crispy chips, but this taco needed more moisture so I doused it with green sauce.

Mi Casa is one of those places I’ll keep on my radar, and return to at some point.

Mi Casa, 700 Santa Rosa Ave., (210) 527-0224

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

Café Alameda, 342 W. Houston St.


Before crowning myself The Tacoist — I’m self-absorbed, I admit it — I made a living writing about downtown S.A. for the Express-News. This began in 2008, a year before the “Decade of . . .blah, blah, blah” (you know the rest) was ushered in by then Mayor Julián Castro.

I lived downtown for 10 years (I’m now in Government Hill up Broadway, which is gentrifying as you read this) and yet I never visited Café Alameda in the shadows of the historic Alameda Theater on West Houston Street. Four blocks away, from my apartment, all these years, were some of the best flour tortillas.

Let me pause this write-up for a minute to discuss flour tortillas. I’m starting to doubt all previous mentions and descriptions of flour tortillas on this blog. There are indeed gradations in quality — I mean, like you, probably, I’ve been eating them my entire life. But it’s not until you juxtapose them — I’m starting to realize — that you can truly begin to grade them, to rank them.

Because the tortillas at the Alameda are pretty #@&*%! special. They are soft, fluffy and pillowy. When your fingers touch them, they sort of give a little. I don’t know, people — these flour tortillas are hard to beat.

There also was an odor, but I’ll get to that later.

But for what was in the tortillas . . .

My favorite was the egg a la Mexicana, which was served piping hot and was balanced and loaded with flavor from the diced onions, tomatoes and pepper. The pepper kicked me in the throat a few times. The bean and cheese on corn was solid with homemade beans that my taste-tester and I thought were refried in vegetable oil instead of in pork fat. As you can tell from the photo, the beans were covered in yummy yellow cheese. The corn tortilla was very good.

The chilaquiles had incongruous red chips that spilled out of the taco’s ends as if it were molecular gastronomy at a pretentious restaurant. In reality, these chips had respectable crunch, but were also greasy. The egg, cheese and other ingredients soaked up the grease some.

The carne guisada was disappointing. Kind of a two-note carne guisada — meat that had good flavor at the beginning of chew, but then trickles off toward the end and dries up texture-wise.

As for the stink — unfortunately, Café Alameda smelled like a sewer, slightly. I stayed because I was already there — the story of my life. The smell didn’t go away so much as I got used to it. Hopefully, the odor isn’t a regular thing. I wouldn’t know, after all.

Café Alameda, 342 W. Houston St., (210) 354-4414

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