Tacos of Texas

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December 12, 2023

Bonus Episode: Regional Taco Flavors of Texas

By: Mando Rayo

From border to border, El Paso to Brownsville and a little in between, we’re gonna talk tacos regionales and just like the musica itself, there’s many elements and things that go into them. Our guests include Miguel Cobos from Vaquero Taquero and Paola Gabriela from Visit El Paso.

The full transcript of this episode of Tacos of Texas is available on the KUT & KUTX Studio website. The transcript is also available as subtitles or captions on some podcast apps.

Mando Rayo This is the Tacos of Texas podcast, plus plus plus bonus episode. [music] All right. All right. Here we go. Oh, here we go. [mimicks airhorn blowing] Listos, who’s ready for Tacos of Texas ACL? [crowd cheers and whistles] All right, here we go. So thank you so much, everyone, for being here. I will do a quick intro and we’ll get the discussion going. What’s up, taco world? I’m taco journalist Mando Rayo. And welcome to the Tacos of Texas podcast in partnership with KUT and KUTX studios. And we’re back exploring taco culture in Texas through the eyes of the people in the Lone Star State, from El Paso style carnitas to tacos callejeros de Brunsville. We’ve got it all. So get ready for a bien lit weekend with plenty of scrumbia ti ti mi pregunto and in the words of Kendrick Lamar, sit down and be humble. Right. So get ready for some muy tasty taco conversations, y’all. So today, we’re live at the Austin City Limits Festival at the bonus track stage, the hub of culture and connection, a space for positive vibras between the live music performances. In this episode, we’re going to talk about regional tacos, the flavors of Texas from border to border, El Paso to Brownsville, and a little bit in between. We’re going to talk taco regionales and just like the música  itself, there’s so much variety. And with that, I actually want to introduce our guests. We have from Chuco Town or from West Texas slash  Ciudad Juárez  Paola Gabriela and also representing Visit El Paso. And el unico Miguel Cobo from Vaquero Taquero. [whoops]

Miguel Cobo Hello, hello everyone.

Thank you. Thank you. How’s everyone doing? All right. I see some friendly faces there. [laughs] What’s going on? So let’s go ahead and get this started. Get this, get this taco party started. Paola, why don’t, why don’t you start with not only what what is your passion behind the tacos?

Paola Gabriela The hands that make the tacos is my passion behind the tacos. I mean, aside from it nourishes you, it makes you smile, it keeps you full. The hands that that are making the tacos and that are nourishing you are doing so with love and with generations of of knowledge and know how. And having to feed a family with very little resources around you. Right. So I am grateful that I was raised on tacos and I’m grateful that every time I’m hungry, I think about making tacos. It’s, it’s part of who I am and it’s part of who we all are as border people.

Mando Rayo It’s the mexicano in you, no?

Paola Gabriela It’s the mexicana in me and the fronterista in me.

Mando Rayo [laughs] So tell me a little bit. Why don’t you introduce yourself, your full name, but also, like a little bit about yourself?

Paola Gabriela Sure. Paola Gabriela I’m originally from  Ciudad Juárez . I was raised in El Paso. I moved when I was about ten years old, and I’m actually a DACA recipient, so I moved. I have not been able to go back to Juarez since 2006, so it’s been a while since I’ve been able to, you know, touch the homeland. But I am a green salsa aficionado. That is my love language. If I love you, I will make you a green salsa without a lot of tomatillo. That’s my hot take. I’m not a tomatillo fan.

Mando Rayo I love that hot take. I mean, you know, I think tomatillos’ a little bit overrated.

Paola Gabriela It is. It is. It adds too much of, like, an acidity that I just need a dash. I don’t need it to be too bad. But, you know, I’m a social justice warrior without, you know, carrying the bad connotation. Worked in the nonprofit industry my whole life. My my previous life included a stint at the National Hispanic Institute (NHI) and at the Equal Justice Center, where I worked with half of Austin’s kitchens. The waitstaff and the people who are making your tacos from one end to the other of the city and who are really working hard and putting their all, day in and day out without being noticed and without being acclaimed. But those are the true heroes. And I’m here to talk about them.

Mando Rayo Beautiful, beautifully said. All right, Miguel, why don’t you introduce yourself and give us a hot take? How about a taco hot take too?

Miguel Cobo What do you mean by taco Hot take?

Mando Rayo I saw your face when she said, like, skip the tomatillo.

Paola Gabriela Or controversial.

Miguel Cobo Okay. Your introduction. Miguel Angel Cobos. Edinburg, Texas. Monterrey, Nuevo León. Dad from Monterrey. Mom from McAllen. Border town kid, came to Austin for school. Ended up in the tech scene. Like most of us, you feel it’s a soulless job. So then I became a local taquero in 2016. I didn’t have the funds. Started a taco cart, a little push car that.

Mando Rayo Yeah, I remember it was right downtown by Mexicarte. Yeah, you guys would like it’s like it was a makeshift ice cream cart, verdad?

Miguel Cobo That’s all the money I had. I only had 400 bucks and I bought a little popsicle cart, got my whole cultural outfit, a vaquero. Named it Vaquero Taquero. Hand rolled my flour tortillas at 4:30 in the morning and sold my tacos in front of Mexicarte for like a year, then a food truck, then another spot in Hyde Park and now downtown. Vaquero Taquero. You can come visit us. Friday, Saturday nights we do karaoke, drunk karaoke and tacos till 4 a.m. We’re also a music venue, Our venues part of South by Southwest and other festivals. And yeah, we make our things from scratch. We’re essentially just something tejanos was trying to rep South Texas in the state capital. Hot take: tomatillo salsa. I’m not going to hate salsas because salsas are like tacos are like pizzas, like burgers. They come in all types of colors and if it’s scratch made, it can be good. If you make a horrible tomatillo salsa, buy some of the bouillons. The chicken bouillons, those Knorr, throw it in there, it’ll make a world of a difference.

Mando Rayo That’s right. Knorr, Knorr, Knorr.

Miguel Cobo Get that Knorr one.

Mando Rayo That’s the “k” is silence.

Miguel Cobo Yeah, that’s some, like, quick shortcut that you can use if your tomatillo salsa sucks. With that, it won’t suck that much.

Mando Rayo Good. Love it. Love it. Okay, let’s get started. You know, we’re here to talk about the regional style of tacos. We’re obviously we’re in Austin, Texas, the Austin City Limits Festival. And, you know, one of the things that I think when I talk to folks, they’re like, man, I really I miss the the tacos from my from home, Right. Whether it’s homemade from your abuela or a tío or your father, your mother, but also just kind of like the style, you know what I mean? And so but in Austin, you know, Austin’s awesome. Like, you got to, you can get some great migas, some great barbecue tacos, some brisket, you know, and or even down the road to San Antonio, get some great flour tortillas, bean and cheese. By the way, if you haven’t listened, if you haven’t listened to the bean and cheese battle royale, make sure you pick that up. It’s a part of our episode package on season tres tres tres tres tres. So let’s, you know, let’s go ahead and start, let’s start with El Paso slash Juárez. Right. And what what what are some of the tacos or even the foods that you remember growing up with and what that make what makes it iconic to that region?

Paola Gabriela Sure. So I was sharing a little bit ago tacos de papa are my childhood and it’s just straight up like mashed potatoes in a flour tortilla. And– Right. You know it, you know it. Tacos de papa and then you fry it a little bit.

Mando Rayo She knows what’s up. All right, let’s go.

Paola Gabriela Tacos de papa are like the perfect hangover food. The perfect just my stomach hurts food. Tacos de papa will cure it all. But if you really want to get El Paso, and if you really want to get Juarez, then it’s all about the bean burrito.

Mando Rayo Yes.

Paola Gabriela It’s all about the bean burrito. And when it’s good beans, they don’t need cheese. They don’t need anything.

Mando Rayo Straight.

Paola Gabriela Just straight up beans, maybe some salsa. Again, you know, I like I like the salsa. But the burritos in El Paso and in Juárez built those cities.

Mando Rayo That’s right. Oh, yeah. I mean, the thing is, is like it’s whenever I go back, I mean, when I go back to El Paso, I grew up in El Paso, but it was about the burritos.

Paola Gabriela It really is, uh-huh.

Mando Rayo And then the tacos dorados.

Paola Gabriela Tacos dorados de papa. Tacos sudados that they sell you know, a señora with a little canasta, I mean, that’s just. That’s the way to go.

Mando Rayo Yeah. And I think part of that is the affordability of, you know, buying potatoes in bulk. Right. And, and feeding a big family. Yeah. And sometimes if you can like, you know, squeeze a little bit out of your budget, you put some more carne molida in there. Right.

Paola Gabriela And that’s when you’re really splurging.

Mando Rayo That’s like a night out at Whataburger.

Paola Gabriela Yeah, it really is. You know, I, you know, thinking back, my my grandparents lived in Juárez. And I remember growing up for Christmas or for my birthday, I would get $20. And knowing now that my grandfather made $20 in a week, it’s… They needed to feed themselves and their grandchildren and their children. And there’s not a lot of money left. So what do you do? You go buy yourself some beans, you go buy yourself some papas and tortillas. You can make them at home. And that’s how you feed your your family.

Mando Rayo Yeah, I love it. I love it. Yeah. I mean, I just growing up with that and, you know, living off of a budget and you make everything at home from scratch, right? So I love that. Okay, so now let’s go down to the Rio Grande Valley. Miguel, tell me a little bit about, you know, the the styles you grew up with and what we can find down in Brownsville.

Miguel Cobo So Brownsville, McAllen, all the nine-five-six, puro pinche, nine-five-six is what I like to say.

Mando Rayo Puro pinche, nine-five-six.

Miguel Cobo I mean, like if you know your Texas history well, if you read it on your own because we all know they don’t really teach it to us here. There are all cities divided by a river, right? It’s binational, bicultural. So when you speak of South Texas, you have to speak of northeast Mexico. It’s really just three metropolitan areas in two countries. So that does a lot of cultural immersions. You can see things that come from like the barbecue styles of Texas and Northeast that happen in tacos. Like barbacoa on Sundays. Well, how does the barbacoa on Sundays happen in South Texas? Right. I just spoke about it being bicultural. Well, you do it with Big Red. Big Red isn’t even sold in Mexico. But Barbacoa does come from Mexico. And that’s kind of like the tweaks that you can see at the border. You see it with papas asadas, right. Like this is a baked potato. We have that in the U.S. as well. And in south Texas, when you go to any taqueria, you don’t just buy tacos, you end up buying papas asadas. That’s my personal favorite. When I’m out there drunk and I show up at two in the morning to a taqueria. I get a papas asadas with bunch of cheese, with a bunch of with a bunch of butter. And carne asadas on top with the salsas. My personal favorite is a campechana, which is a flour tortilla, which is very typical of Texas, hand-rolled with some cheese and both al pastor and bistec. But like with anything, you also have the staple tacos that just happen all over the the country from the southwest of the U.S. all the way to Mexico. They al pastor, the bistec, and my personal favorite at the border are the the tacos de canastas, you know them typically. But in the northeast of Mexico, you know them as tacos al vapor. Typically more known in Monterrey, but also the other border towns of Matamoros and Reynosa. And you get to see them also in south Texas. And if you’ve been to Mexico City like many Austinites do, it’s like the tacos de canasta, which are just made, steamed, wrapped, but they’re tiny and they’re made in corn and made in flour. And there’s also just the stuff with little basic things like potatoes, beef and any little thing you can fit in them and they just tiny tacos and what really you’re eating there is the salsa. You’re not actually eating a taco. It’s just like five little tiny snack bite tacos smothered in salsa and you eat them for breakfast normally when you’re hungover. So you can get all spiced up and you can remove that hangover.

Mando Rayo There’s a lot of crudas stories too.

Paola Gabriela Yes, it’s all about the salsa and the cruda.

Mando Rayo And then make sure you put a side of menudo with that, you know what I mean? But yeah, so like really thinking about going back to to Brownsville and barbacoa and those traditions and also like thinking about like, you know, yeah, there’s a river, but this was part of Mexico, you know, where, you know, all these, all these food traditions were here. You know, it’s not it’s not like, you know, the, the that some of these were brought into a certain area. And so those traditions that we grew up with, you know, like, you know, it was things like the barbacoa, right. That whether it’s obviously being Texas and being in this part of the region, there’s a lot of cattle. So you know that there’s going to be a lot of like a lot of like because of that barbecue, because of the beef and the barbacoa and really focusing on that, you have that tradition and then you go alongside all through the borderlands, right? All the way to West Texas. And, you know, what’s what’s how far is Brownsville to El Paso?

Paola Gabriela Oof, about 14 hours.

Mando Rayo About 14 hours. Verdad?

Paola Gabriela It truly is from one end to the next of Texas.

Mando Rayo That’s right. That’s right. Then over here in El Paso, you know, the tradition of carnitas, you know, and that was a tradition that really it’s a winter time type of meal. Right. And and the ranchos of the outskirts of El Paso. The Socorros, shout out to the soco locos.

Paola Gabriela Soco loco and Clint and San Eli[zario] and all the little towns.

Mando Rayo Yeah So you know, Paola talk a little bit about those very iconic family gatherings that are really focused around maybe carnitas, you know what I mean?

Paola Gabriela Yeah, I mean I think Miguel, you know, talked about it just just now. Sundays are family days and Sundays you spend in someone’s backyard making a carne asada, eating carnitas, eating tacos and cebollitas asadas. And cebollitas arrabo or you’re making your… your grandma making salsa. It is truly a communal effort. It’s not food that one eats by oneself. It’s not food that is supposed to just nourish your body. It’s supposed to nourish your soul and it’s supposed to nourish these family relationships. So all that the tías and abuelitas are working together in the kitchen and all the tíos and the abuelitos and the papá s are in the backyard working on the meat. Right? It’s a very community focused meal. And and that’s just how the border is. You can’t escape community when you’re in the border. You’re never alone.

Mando Rayo Yeah. Oh, yeah. You have those, you know, those tíos that actually aren’t related to you? Everybody got one of those, right? You’re probably one of those right there. Yeah. Yeah. Are you a tío?

Paola Gabriela I love it. El Paso, 915.

Mando Rayo You get adopted. [laughs] Miguel, you know, you came obviously, you know, from the valley and started to really make something, make even make a name for yourselves. The Vaquero Taquero way, right. So talk a little bit about what is a Vaquero Taquero culture and what are you trying to represent with your food.

Miguel Cobo So we chose the name Vaquero Taquero really because again, in Texas there’s a lot of forgotten history and we’re really just trying to culturally represent what you see in everyday life here, right? Like you walk around town and you see the name of the street “Guadalupe” people pronounce “Guada-loop”, right? I asked myself, That’s my dad’s name. That’s like the Catholic’s virgin. And it’s also like one river. Like, why is Austin pronouncing it “Guada-loop”? If you want to say “guada-loop”,  you’re probably referencing the Caribbean French island. Right? You should be saying “Guadalupe”. Same thing with the other the other street.

Paola Gabriela Menchaca and…

Mando Rayo Right, that’s right.

Miguel Cobo Same thing with that street Menchaca and so many things. So we chose Vaquero Taquero because when you think of cowboys, you think cowboys really came from England? You think that the etymology of that actually is Anglophone? No, the original word of cowboy is vaquero. And you can you could just explain it. I study some language here at UT and I learned a lot from the professors there, which by the way, are native Anglophones, but taught themselves the history in the language of Spanish and such and vaquero. When you think about the ending of it, “-ero,” you can find that in many places in Spanish. Zapatero, someone that makes zapatos, shoes. Panadero, someone that makes pan, bread. Vaquero, someone that works with vacas, cows. So we thought, let’s just call it vaquero taquero, rep south Texas with its cuisine, make our things by hand like we’ve been doing it like everything that’s done by hand is always the best. So we started hand rolling our flour tortillas, pressing our corn tortillas, and from there people started buying. Because if you just make things with time and effort, they’ll come out all right. And speaking to that point, when you mentioned barbecue in town, that’s also another very interesting word that speaks a lot about the cultural aspect of Texas: barbecue. Ask yourself, what do you think that word comes from?

Paola Gabriela Barbacoa.

Mando Rayo Barbacoa.

Miguel Cobo And where do you think Barbacoa comes from? De barba a cola. From the chin to the tail. Meaning that you cook the entire animal. That’s history. So why did we choose to name it Vaquero Taquero? For all those cultural traits that represent us tejanos and Texans, through our food and our cuisine. And we do it through capitalism, which is what we all consume, which is what this history of the United States gets moved by. Yeah, so do I. But we’re all stuck with it. Boo capitalism? Can we get a boo to capitalism?

Mando Rayo Boo capitalism. Wait, didn’t you just buy a ticket to come into this thing? [everyone laughs]

Miguel Cobo Yeah, we’re all enchained to it, so we make ends with what we got, right? We try to make it as best as we can whenever systems we’ve got. So again, that’s what I did with Vaquero Taquero. I try to rep my own culture, my own heritage and share it by educating myself and doing it through culture in an amicable way, because that’s the best way to convince people and educate people into getting better at what we’re trying to achieve.

Mando Rayo Yeah. Thank you. No, thank you. I. I love that when, you know, we often hear that phrase around when you’re talking about Mexican restaurants, you know, taco shops or even, you know, just the small business, trailers, what have you, that. Oh, yeah. We’re trying to represent our food, our culture. But I think you know what you’re doing. You know, you and your brother Danny are, like, really kind of, like, sticking  to, you know, the roots of your culture, you know? And is that something that just kind of came up for you or like, have you had like this this thing where, you know, when you go from a border to Austin, Texas, you know, is that something that you’re like, oh, I need to hold on to that culture?

Miguel Cobo It just comes naturally. Like when you hear me speak, you kind of hear an accent, right? And people will ask me where you’re from. And I’m like, uh, like from Texas, you know, they’re like. They’re like, Yeah, well, you got an accent. I’m like, Well, yeah, because I speak Spanish, like I speak most of my life. I spoke Spanish as soon as the bell rang. The teachers, everyone in my hometown spoke Spanish. Like, of course I carry an accent. And when you come to the capital of Texas, you realize, like a lot of people are culturally unaware of what actually the state is. So that’s essentially what I do with it, is just like, why do we do that? Because it’s just an essence that you feel.

Paola Gabriela Because it’s who you are. Yeah, you can’t escape it.

Miguel Cobo  You’re walking around and you realize that something is being hidden and that passion just comes by itself. It might also come from punk music. I did grow up punk, so I don’t know, I don’t know.

Mando Rayo Punkero. [lauhs]

Miguel Cobo I did grew up skateboarding in Monterrey in the summers with my dad and probably that influenced, like, that rebel-ish attitude. Yeah, maybe.

Mando Rayo Love it, love it. Paola, what about you? You know, you talk about, you’re you’re a DACA recipient. Obviously strong roots in Juárez and with your family and those traditions. And, you know, I’m from El Paso, and, you know, we have a support from, you know, shout out to Vsit El Paso, our friends at Visit El Paso. But like, how are you trying to, like, reconnect or make sure people know about those food traditions where we’re from?

Paola Gabriela So I think for a long time, and especially growing up in El Paso and growing up undocumented in El Paso, I was trying to be as white as I possibly could so that no one would dare question You know, “Are you supposed to be here?”.

Mando Rayo Yeah.

Paola Gabriela And so, you know, my I try to get rid of my accent as much as I could. I hung out with all the white girls. I made sure that no one, no doubt.

Mando Rayo Any, any swifties out there?

Paola Gabriela There was no doubt in anyone’s mind. But, you know, as you’re coming into your own and you start realizing, you know, this is very it’s going to be cheesy, but like you’re you have the best of both worlds and you have access to the best of both worlds. And you’re not, you… No matter how hard you run and no matter how hard you try, you can’t escape who you are at the end of the day. And the blood that runs in you and the things that move you and the fact that your grandmother will only ever be able to communicate with you in one language. And so once I understood that, then it was impossible to negate or to deny who I truly was. And who I am is someone who’s bilingual and who I am as someone who is going to jump back and forth from Spanish to English. And who I am is someone who is Mexicana and can’t go back to Mexico. And I will be as Mexicana as I can while I’m here. Because there are so many people like me who have still not understood that it’s okay to be themselves. And so I try to carry that forefront everywhere I go. You know, it’s it’s where I led when I introduced myself to you, Mando.

Mando Rayo Yeah, yeah, yeah. I love it.

Paola Gabriela I’m a DACA recipient. I am Mexicana. I, this is who I am. And you know, you can take it or leave it.

Mando Rayo Brown and proud as they say, right.

Paola Gabriela Absolutely. And, you know, it’s I cannot imagine a world in which this is not forefront in how I present myself and how I interact with the world.

Mando Rayo Beautiful. Beautiful. So here’s the thing. You mentioned something about this duality. And we’re often you know, there’s this phrase: nos somos ya aquí ni allá. But Olmec, the poet, he’s out of, I believe, Arizona. He said, sí, nos somos aquí y somos allá. Because we bring the strength of our culture, of where we’re from, where we’re rooted, but also what we’re doing here in the United States, in Texas. So I love that about, you know, taking on your full culture and really representing in a way that feels authentic to you. You know what I mean? All right. Speaking of authentic, we were running a little bit out of time, but I’m going to do, you know, your top. Give me your top. Say, you know, when you’re not cooking at home or when you’re not hustling tacos at Vaquero Taquero, Miguel. Give me your top three, three places in the valley to go get some good tacos. But also Austin, give me three and three. Austin and the Valley. And same for you Paola, three in El Paso and three in Austin.

Miguel Cobo So can I get some noise for any people from the nine-five-six? [crowd cheers].

Mando Rayo Brunsville, Brunsville?

Miguel Cobo They’re always very few, but they’re always very loud. The whole valley, puro pinche, nine-five-six. For me, it’s Taqueria Cuatro Vientos, the one behind my high school. You probably had one behind your high school and that’s where your friends hung out. Tacos are just all over the place. That’s in the valley. Taco P, Taco Palenque. That’s where you always showing up just to get those free, free chips because they don’t charge.

Mando Rayo Yeah, Yeah. The free chips, it takes it up a notch, bro. You got that? If we get the free chips and salsa.

Miguel Cobo If you want to go to Taco P, you don’t have to go to that south. They have one in San Antonio and all people from the valley, they’ll take a weekend trip to Taco P. It’s not that amazing. And Round Rock opened one up, actually.

Mando Rayo Yeah, they did.

Paola Gabriela New Braunfels has one.

Mando Rayo You got to go with a pirata, right?

Paola Gabriela Yeah. I’m a Matamoros girl.

Miguel Cobo Yeah. And then also you got you got the mile line tacos, the food trucks that they’re all pretty much the same. They all compete against each other and they’re all good. But here in Austin, my personal favorite still remains Tacos El Primo. That little food truck on South first.

Mando Rayo Oh, yeah. Tacos El Primo, a staple in Austin.

Miguel Cobo Yeah, On Sundays, I keep the tradition of barbacoa. So I go to La Santa Barbacha, where Rosa and Daniela and the entire family, and they serve serve up some dank barbacoa, and I show up on Sundays only. I never show up on any other day. [Mando laughs] It’s just like church to me.

Mando Rayo I love it.

Miguel Cobo I live down by Vaquero Taquero, and I go get my coffee and every single day.

Mando Rayo I hear you get your free food there if you work there.

Miguel Cobo Employee discount. But I am a regular and I do pay and I get a lot of free points and I haven’t gotten tired of it it because they use chorizo san manuel, which is a chorizoria from South Texas.

Mando Rayo Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Miguel Cobo And you can find chorizo from San Manuel anywhere in Austin, except if you go out at HEB and you make it yourself.

Mando Rayo It’s true. That’s true. And I’m like, I’m a Peyton man myself. Yeah. You know, it’s a super bright red like. Like, like that chorizo is just like, it’s so red that it’s like, maybe bad for you, really bad for you.

Miguel Cobo Also I’ll throw one out there just for a plus points because, you know, there’s a lot of those food trucks that don’t have a lot of social media presence. But there’s a there’s a new spot right on Cesar Chavez. El Taquito 956.

Mando Rayo El Taquito 956.

Mando Rayo Okay I’ve seen that.

Miguel Cobo Yeah, that one is relatively new and they serve valley food and it’s really good and you should hit them up on social media. I don’t think they’re up that exploded yet, but they probably will anytime soon. So the one on Cesar Chavez. Oye Taquito, it’s called actually. Oye Taquito. Oh yeah.

Mando Rayo I’ve seen it, I’ve seen it on Instagram. Nice. Okay, Paola, how about you?

Paola Gabriela Okay, so in Austin, I go to Rosa’s Al Pastor if I want some al pastor tacos. I go to Pueblo Viejo. If I want some good creamy green salsa and I go to el Primo. I mean, honestly, you can’t. You can’t get better.

Miguel Cobo He’s been there for, like, 20 years. He makes his own chorizo from scratch.

Paola Gabriela And so those are my go-tos.

Mando Rayo What about Chucotown?

Paola Gabriela Chucotown? New Taconeta is doing some incredible things.

Mando Rayo Oh, yeah, Taconeta. Damn.

Paola Gabriela  Love some Taconeta. Carnitas Queretaro delivers day in and day out.

Mando Rayo Oh what? For real?

Paola Gabriela Carnitas Queretaro delivers and it’s it’s my guilty pleasure whenever I go back home.

Mando Rayo That’s a good spot.

Paola Gabriela And then I’m going to plug in… Oh in Austin I forgot: El Perrito ATX.

Mando Rayo Oh yeah, yeah yeah yeah.

Paola Gabriela El Perrito ATX, my heart belongs to you.

Mando Rayo They they do though those faux Chico’s tacos.

Paola Gabriela Yes, but it’s. Yeah, we don’t talk about Chico’s. They’re better than Chico’s. I will say it.

Mando Rayo Oh hell yeah. There’s a lot of places better than Chico’s.


That’s my hot take.

Paola Gabriela I have some words, but no, I think, you know, El Paso, at the end of the day, it’s. It’s my grandma’s house. You will find no better tacos, ladies and gentlemen, than my grandmother’s home.

Mando Rayo We’re coming over on Sunday.

Paola Gabriela I love it.

Mando Rayo Well, that wraps it up for us here at the bonus track stage. I want to thank our special guests, Miguel Cobos from back at Vaquero Taquero and our friend from Visit El Paso, Ms. Paola Gabriela, thank you so much for being here. And just like the música, tacos vary from region to region, whether you’re in West Texas, East Texas, the South, there’s plenty of tacos for everybody. So this has been the Tacos of Texas podcast developed and produced by Identity Productions. If you enjoyed today’s episode and are craving more taco content, go to our website at w-w-w dot Identity dot Productions or follow us on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and YouTube at Identity Productions and United Tacos of America. This is your host, el carnitas man, Mando Rayo. Vamos a los tacos! Muchas gracias! Cue the music. And I like to thank my, my production assistant right here, Ms. Quetzal Rayo.

Outro The Tacos of Texas podcast is presented by Identity Productions in partnership with KUT and KUTX Studios. Our host and producer is Mando Rayo. Our audio is mixed by Nicholas Worthen and Ever Calderon, Our story producer is me, Sharon Arteaga, and our creative producer is Dennis Burnett. Music was created by Peligrosa in Austin, Texas, and King Benny Productions, located in the Quinto barrio of Houston. [music fades out]

This transcript was transcribed by AI, and lightly edited by a human. Accuracy may vary. This text may be revised in the future.


December 19, 2023

Bonus Episode: The intersectionalities of Black Mexicans with Chef Adrian Lipscombe. 

Chef Adrian Lipscombe grew up in San Antonio and we’ll discuss Texas foodways from her Black heritage to growing up in the gateway to South Texas, San Antonio. Chef Lipscombe is the founder of the 40 Acres Project, a city planner and Culinary Diplomat with the U.S. Department of State.


December 12, 2023

Bonus Episode: Regional Taco Flavors of Texas

From border to border, El Paso to Brownsville and a little in between, we’re gonna talk tacos regionales and just like the musica itself, there’s many elements and things that go into them. Our guests include Miguel Cobos from Vaquero Taquero and Paola Gabriela from Visit El Paso.


November 7, 2023

Taco Pop Culture: A Taco Talk on All Things Tacos on the Interwebs

Stephanie Guerra, of Puro Pinche, hangs with us in the studio to talk taco pop culture.


October 31, 2023

Black Mexicans, Part 2: Tracing the foodways of Black Seminoles and Mexicans in Texas and Mexico

There is so much untold and uncovered history of the African diaspora, especially that within the lineages of slavery. Food can signal a variety of possibilities within history, and in this episode, we examine the melding and the migration of Black Seminoles across Texas and into Mexico. We join Windy Goodloe and Corina Torralba Harrington, […]


October 24, 2023

Black Mexicans, Part 1: Tracing the foodways of Black Seminoles and Mexicans in Texas and Mexico

There is so much untold and uncovered history of the African diaspora, especially that within the lineages of slavery. Food can signal a variety of possibilities within history, and in this episode, we examine the melding and the migration of Black Seminoles across Texas and into Mexico. We join Windy Goodloe and Corina Torralba Harrington, […]


October 17, 2023

Archiving Our Food History: What Goes Into Researching and Saving Oral Recipes and Histories.

In this episode, we talk to Dr. Meredith E. Abarca about putting together her online archive El Paso Food Voices. Author and blogger Yvette Marquez-Sharpnack shares how she has used her cookbooks as a way to archive her family’s recipes.


October 10, 2023

Inside Houston’s Encuentro: The Native American Roots of Texas Mexican Food

The complex cuisine of Texas goes back before the land was known as either Texas or Mexico. In this episode, we visit Houston’s two-day, anthropologic culinary event Encuentro. We learn about the Native American roots of Texas Mexican food from both scholars and chefs present at the event.


October 3, 2023

Salsa Magic

This episode includes a breakdown of the salsas that complete our favorite tacos, from taqueria style, to hot sauces. It includes the science of peppers to a local hot sauce brand’s origins. Then we’ll go into my home kitchen to make one of my favorite salsas and how to pair them up with your favorite tacos.