Tortilla musings.

Well now, this was quite timely — and not just because of the infamous Taco Bell incident.

…at the behest of my editors (ye gods, what did I ever do to them?) I ate a Beefy Crunch Burrito to see what would drive a bipedal living soul with capacity for critical thought and myriad drive-thru options to all but reenact the breakfast scene from “Falling Down” over a $.50 price hike for a multi-colored gut-punch wrapped in a feeble excuse for a flour tortilla….

…there’s the deal-breaker. Even a fan of the most abstract art can’t appreciate what’s on the canvas when it comes wrapped in such a poor frame. I’m looking at you, warm, flour tortilla.

No highbrow culinary critique or parsing would do the decimation of said dry, nigh-tasteless tortilla justice. It just plain sucked.

Yesterday for lunch I had brisket tacos, made with leftover brisket from HEB that we had from late last week. And you know what I wrapped that brisket in? I wrapped it in thick, fluffy freshly made tortillas from the HEB bakery, warmed in the oven right along with the brisket. After eating something like that I don’t think I could ever go back to the paper-thin cardboard-flavored monstrosities they use at Taco Bell. Come to think of it, I’m surprised Taco Bell has any kind of presence here in San Antonio with Taco Cabana, because the tortillas the latter uses are so much better that it isn’t even funny. And as far as I know you can’t, for example, get yourself barbacoa tacos and beer at 1:30 in the morning at Taco Bell. (They sell beer till 1:55 AM. I checked.) I don’t know if the folks at Taco Cabana make their own tortillas, but they’re pretty similar to the ones that I was eating yesterday. And I’m sure the tortillas at the little Mexican panaderias are even better.

And yes, I know neither Taco Bell nor Taco Cabana is haute cuisine. But for what it is, Taco Cabana is pretty good — a fat lot better than Taco Bell, for sure.

UPDATE: Oh, good grief. I looked up the location of the Taco Bell, which was mentioned in the story. It’s right there at Rigsby & Loop 410 on the east side. Would anyone like to guess what’s on the other side of that intersection? Go on, guess.


9 Responses to “Tortilla musings.”

  1. BL Says:

    There’s a Taco Bell in my AO and I still don’t understand it. We have multiple good taquerias so what’s the point? Taco Bell, McDonalds, Whataburger, all showed up when the Yuppies started invading in town. They didn’t hurt the business of the local places for a quick bite one bit.

  2. BL Says:

    This would be a good place for a burger debate 😉 Think adding a McDs and Whata to the existing places really improved anything in my closest local food scene?

    We had a DQ and a Sonic already. I liked the Sonic. Reckon the Whataburger and Sonic are now tied, but I wouldn’t bother with the other two. I thought having a DQ and a Sonic was likely enough burger joints and the others don’t bring anything to the table, besides, I still have lots of venison burger and if I were to drive for burgers I’d go to Chrome Cactus, because it’s about the same round trip 😉 AND they have chicken fried BACON available as a burger topping!

    If you drift North:
    Bring an appetite.

  3. Les Says:

    I think Taco Bell is great for what it is; a cheap quick place to grab a bite, feed a bunch of people quick on the cheap, or grabbing something on the way out of town. I got a crunch burrito last time and liked it. I didn’t have any expectations like the poor little fellow writing the article, I just grab one of the items in the bag of different things my wife buys. Lot of bang for the buck and good, not gourmet. No Cabanas around. Otherwise you do what you did, make your own from HEB stock or go to a local family establishment. Local good taquerias are only open breakfast and lunch.
    Burger wars for me are won by Whataburger, it’s from Corpus (or was) and almost family, and you can get a hamburger ANYTIME. I never understood hamburger joints that won’t sell you a burger until the “lunch menu” goes up. How prissy. They ever hear of shift workers? Other than that I like Sonic and Whopper or DQ but go to local family places when open where the burgers and fries are on a different level altogether.

  4. Albatross Says:

    Hey, hey, hey, hey! Don’t knock Whataburger! Best fast food burgers around! (I LOVE they way they put onions on a burger!)

    As for Taco Cabana, I know they used to make their own tortillas. Don’t know if they do any more, but they used to have the tortilla maker right up front so that you could see it when you ordered.

    • Sabra Says:

      My cousin Becky worked as a tortilla maker at Taco Cabana for a good long time. That machine was a vicious one; she came home with some pretty bad burns here & there. I haven’t looked lately to see if they still have the machines, though.

      And I’ll agree with you that Whataburger has the best fast food burgers. I think Marie is about half made out of ’em, considering how often we ate there when I was pregnant. Pretty good onion rings, too.

  5. southtexaspistolero Says:

    Oh yeah, the local places are great. There’s this little place just down the road that has marvelous breakfast tacos.

    As for fast-food burger joints, I think Whataburger and Sonic probably have the best burgers. If I had my druthers for burgers here in San Antonio I’d probably just go to the Longhorn Cafe every time, though. The tiebreaker has to be the onion rings; they pretty much set the standard for battered-n-fried onions as far as I am concerned. Of course, I never got to try the ones at the old Pig Stand that Sabra compared them to. Fatty’s Burgers on Commerce just east of downtown looks pretty promising, though, and of course I have yet to try Chris Madrid’s or Good Time Charlie’s. One of these days Imma have to take a ride up 281…

    I reckon if TC wasn’t around, Les, Taco Bell would do in a pinch. Lord knows I ate my share of it in North and East Texas. Their beef & potato burritos were pretty good the last time I ate ’em.

    Oh, and the HEB fully cooked barbacoa makes a fine breakfast taco too! I did that the other night. Rode right by the Taco Cabana and there were about six cars in the drive-through. I thought, “Man, I’m glad I’m making my own tonight.” Figured I could save some money, but there will still be more Taco Cabana breakfast tacos in the future for me. 😉

    I wouldn’t be surprised, Albatross, if TC made all their tortillas at one place now and trucked ’em around to the various locations. Either way, though, they’re still pretty good.

  6. BL Says:

    This thread needs EPIC MEXICAN FOOD.

    Way cooler than cooking with Emeril and Iron Chef!

    –Stumbled on this web surfing today and I giggled.

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