Living in San Antonio presents a unique opportunity to consume some of the greatest tacos on earth. While tacos from chain restaurants like Torchy’s and Taco Bell are available, as is the first-ever Taco Cabana, I encourage exploring authentic San Antonio joints to get the full taco experience. After all, taco culture is about more than exceeding the daily recommended intake of sodium.
First up is a Trinity staple, El Milagrito, affectionately referred to by students as “El Mil.” The morning of move-in day my first year at Trinity, I experienced El Mil’s chorizo and egg tacos, realizing that I had never truly had a taco until that moment. Those and the chilaquiles tacos are solid, dependable choices. El Mil is a family-owned restaurant, and members of the Omega Phi fraternity here at Trinity have developed a close relationship with the owner, Armando; they’ve even earned coveted wallspace inside El Mil, which hangs a framed jersey displaying their organization’s Greek letters. This sort of local interaction with the San Antonio community, centered around food, friends and family, is exactly what will enrich the experience of living in this city. Located at East Woodlawn Ave. and North St Mary’s St., El Mil is in walking distance of Trinity, accessible with or without a car.
The second renowned taco establishment is Mama’s Kitchen, which serves exceptionally delicious food palatable to the college student budget. At Mama’s, it’s impossible to go wrong when ordering your tacos.
If you’re feeling adventurous, I strongly suggest the nopalitos tacos, made with the flesh of prickly pear cacti. Another vegetarian option is the espinaca (spinach) and egg tacos, with added queso fresco and avocado slices. Without fail, my first bite into that menu item results in a muffled “Oh my God” spoken through a mouthful of hot, fresh deliciousness. It’s also worth noting Mama’s gorditas, which are among the city’s best. Mama’s is located on Hildebrand near San Pedro, making it a bit of a long walk from Trinity, but still doable if determined.
By “determined,” I mean it’s an hour round trip, and depending on the San Antonio weather it may turn into a life-threatening quest for a watering hole. At Mama’s, I can be certain of three things: delicious, authentic Mexican food made with love, being called Mija by the ever-kind and hardworking women there and feeling full without emptying my wallet. Mama’s deserves much more business and attention than it receives from Trinity; here’s to Mama’s Kitchen tacos and eating with your hands in a petite, pale yellow building full of warm tortillas and satisfied customers.
The grand finale of this brief, hard-hitting taco journalism piece is none other than Tacos El Regio, also known as “the taco truck by Hardbodies” or just “the taco truck” for short. Tacos El Regio is indeed the taco truck, open from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. six days a week, and 11 p.m. to midnight on Sundays. These night owl hours and a location on N St Mary’s near the St Mary’s Strip, an eclectic collection of bars and night-life spots, makes for some top-notch people-watching as you eat. I would be lying if I said I haven’t contemplated how entertaining “Humans of Tacos El Regio” would be. The truck itself is yellow in color, with black lettering boasting “THE BEST TACOS ON EARTH!” next to a “No Smoking” sign that has been cleverly defaced into a “Go Smoking” sign. The taco truck is affordable, fast, in walking distance from campus and downright disturbingly good. Every item on the menu is perfect, even down to the charro beans and arroz con leche, so I won’t insult the establishment by ranking any taco above the others. For those with large appetites and slim budgets, there is a taco truck-specific hack passed down to me by a Trinity alumnus that I will now share. Use it wisely. Order three veggie tacos and one beef taco. Sprinkle the beef into the three veggie tacos, so that there is one empty tortilla. Eat the three newly-minted veggie beef tacos over the empty tortilla, and a fourth veggie beef taco will be born from the ashes of the other three. I humbly suggest that this fourth taco be referred to as The Phoenix Taco.
Go forth, eat tacos and prosper, Class of 2020. And, of course, don’t forget to add some salsa.