Happy Cinco de Mayo! In cased you missed the memo, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day (that’s on September 16), but rather a day celebrating the bravery of General Ignacio Seguin Zaragoza (a native Texan) and his small army when they defended the city of Puebla from the giant French army on May 5, 1862 even though they were very outnumbered (find the complete history of Cinco de Mayo here).
To honor these brave men and their culture, we’ve created a road trip centered around one of our favorite Mexican dishes: the beautiful and glorious taco! With beginnings in Mexican silver mines around the 19th Century, the taco eventually traveled to Texas through the Chili Queens in San Antonio, and over time has transformed into one of Texas’s favorite foods. The variations are endless and magnificent! So wear your stretchy pants and hop on this Taco Road Trip through the heart of San Antonio where you can enjoy five of the tastiest tacos in town!
HERE’S THE MAP:
Just like each day must start with breakfast, each taco road trip must begin with breakfast tacos, so your first stop is Pete’s Tako House (to all the grammarists out there, this is the correct spelling…so calm down and have a taco.) This family-owned joint has been serving up the most important meal of the day stuffed in fresh tortillas since 1978; each taco is ginormous and the filling combinations are endless and heavenly. Don’t worry if you happen to start your road trip late, they serve breakfast tacos all day — so you’re in luck!
If you wish to declare your taco love to the world, you’re only about 5 minutes from the famous “I Love
You Tacos So Much” Mural near Pearl Brewery, which has become a must-see photo stop for taco-eating tourists in town.
Next you’re on to El Milagrito Cafe, a San Antonio mainstay since 1969. Here the locals swear by the chorizo breakfast taco or the authentic barbacoa — which is the perfect amount of moist without being too greasy — served on handmade, sturdy corn tortillas. If you’re looking to add a little fire to your tacos, drench ’em in the mysterious green sauce in the unmarked bottle on the table. Go for the orange, goopy sauce if you’re looking to set your entire mouth on fire. Both sauces are homemade and fresh, and neither will disappoint.
At your next taco destination, you’ll be mixing the best of Texas cuisine (aka barbecue) with the best of Mexican cuisine (the taco.) Garcia’s Mexican Restaurant has been a local favorite since 1962, and the locals rave about the brisket taco, which contains a tender marinated brisket that really shines when covered with the creamy house-made guac and adorned with the pico de gallo.
Okay, by now you’ll be feeling the taco pains, but luckily the next stop is Taquitos West Avenue, where the specialty is mini tacos, so at least you can feel like you’re eating less…This no-frills taco stand serves up some of the best street tacos in Texas and, in accordance with the age-old saying, “less is more,” these authentic tacos come layered five on a Styrofoam plate piled with spit-grilled meat — choices range from the more adventurous “lengua” (beef tongue) or “cabeza” (head) to the less daring bistec (steak) — and the simple toppings of chopped onions, cilantro and a lime wedge on the side. And that’s honestly all you need.
Now on to the big finish…or should I say “puffy” finish? Yep, that’s right…no Taco Road Trip would be complete without visiting the inventor of the “Original Puffy Tacos,” Ray’s Drive Inn. It’s been open since 1956, but it wasn’t until it introduced the puffy taco in 1966 that it became a San Antonio Tex-Mex legend. Order a classic beef puffy taco, and crunch away at this miraculously crispy taco that never falls victim to the greasy meat inside. And by this point, if you’re too stuffed to get out of your car, just flash your lights for car-side service and munch in the comfort of your vehicle!
Alright, now have a margarita, my friends, because you have completed the “Tastiest Taco Road Trip” through the heart of San Antonio!
Can’t get enough tacos? Check out our “Tacos, Tacos, Tacos” podcast with Texas Monthly food editor Pat Sharpe or this homemade tortilla and taco recipe by our office administrator Tosha Galvan. And if you’re still craving tacos, don’t worry, you’re sure to find a dozen more amazing taco shops nearby in the heart of San Antone!