I live in Corpus Christi, and I’ve lived here for 11 years. My mother grew up here. I’ve got grandparents on both sides from here. My papaw worked for the Post Office downtown, and made a 400 pound coffee table out of the marble wall of a stall in the men’s room there when they tore the place down. I’m not an outsider, but I’m not a local. I’m a bolillo, so I’m always going to stick out at the best taquerias.
So when I was driving down Golihar and saw Toñas, I pulled in to the decrepit Prescott Village shopping center and expected to do my normal thing. Get in and out with as little muss and fuss as possible. Sneak a photo of the tacos, and then get a parting shot of the front from my truck as I drive away. I really didn’t expect anyone inside to speak English. At most Corpus Christi taquerias the waitress asks what I want in Spanish, and I answer in english, and the correct tacos find their way through the language barrier to my table.
Today was different, though. The guy behind the counter saw my giant camera, and asked if I was from the city, about a maintenance fee. I said no – that I write a blog about breakfast tacos. He told the ladies in the kitchen that I was a writer, and one of them held up a tortilla for a photo. They let me come back in to the kitchen. It was nice to be regarded with amity, and not with suspicion. They were rolling out and cooking tortillas to order. They were as good as you’d find anywhere. There are few things in life as good as a tortilla that’s seconds off the placa.
The salsa was fair. The carne guisada was pretty tasty, though I suspect there might have been some food service beef gravy mix to help fill it out. The chorizo and egg was fresh, and on those tortillas, everything was better. Many of the patrons knew each other, old and young. If you notice the lady in red at the top had a bow on her shirt where people were pinning money for her birthday. The coffee was par for the course here in town. The setup in this place is a steam tray in plain view of the customers, behind glass. You order at the front, and then you see them prepare your food. If you order coffee, they give you a cup and you go to the coffee station to your left and serve yourself. From the front of the restaurant you can see Cunningham Middle School through the brushstrokes of the hand-painted signage on the plate glass window. Kids come in every 30 seconds or so, on their way to school, and leave in another minute with a taco in a bag, and run out to beat the bell, laboring under the weight of the backpack. Homer, the guy behind the counter confirmed what I expected: that this was the original location, the other being the Toñas on Agnes. The Signage was painted by the same hand. This one has been here for fourteen years, the other for seven. There are probably kids buying tacos today whose parents were buying tacos here when it opened.
So the ingredients may be lowbrow, just like the neighborhood, but the atmosphere, the people, and the tacos were as enjoyable as I’ve had.
Our Taco Award Winner for this week is:
Game of Thrones, though brutally violent and rapey, is a great show (and a great series of books). Critics are using a term coined to describe this use of sex to move the narrative forward in GOT. It’s sexposition – a pun and a portmanteau of sex and exposition. Women in Westeros are brutalized (as are the men) but have as much power in many cases as the men of the realm. Even the courtesan Ros, is valued. And as she should be, endowed with stunning beauty, grace, and natural gifts by the beautiful Esmé Bianco, a British burlesque performer and lingerie model. Esme belongs to an elite club of beautiful former girlfriends of Marilyn Manson that includes Dita von Teese, Evan Rachel Wood , Stoya, Jenna Jameson, and Rose McGowan. I have respect for HBO and the show’s runners for having the balls to cast people in the roles of prostitutes who actually know something about working in the adult entertainment industry. Esmé’s confidant and fellow prostitute on the show is Shae, played by Sibel Kekilli who appeared in more than a few ‘genre pieces’ in Germany in the early 2000s. Respect those who deserve it, and Esmé commands it.
Offer includes 2 tacos, an audience with the ‘tacoteurs,’ and a free tacotopia t-shirt. Please redeem this offer at Whetstone Graphics on a Friday morning of your choice. Offer subject to cancellation by order of the wives of the tacoteurs. Enter to win by emailing your name on a tavern wench’s bodice to firstname.lastname@example.org.