3825 S. Port Ave.
Corpus Christi, TX 78415
6:00 AM – 3:00 PM, 7 days a week
Chorizo & Egg: $1.50 • Carne Guisada: $1.75

When faced with an impasse, Ulysses S Grant would turn to the right or the left and find another route to his destination – never turning back. I’ve been on that type of detour for some time now, and I think I can see the road from here. A shadowy international cabal feared I was giving out information that might endanger their anonymity, and conspired to make it difficult to post in the last few years but they can’t keep me quiet forever. There is almost nothing that can stand between me and a good taco.

So when I called up fellow tacoteur, now Doctor of Tacology and Salsa Science, the Hat, and asked him to meet me at Gabriel’s on Port, he knew what was up. He didn’t hesitate to risk life and limb to be seen in public with another flyer of the tortilla flag. This is Texas, where a man can still eat beef face and tongue and woe be to him who tries to stop him.

It’s not always easy to get back in the saddle. Both our Dodge pickups have been put out to pasture, or worse. Both of us have undergone serious reevaluation of our physical conditions and undertaken courses of physical rehabilitation to mitigate the middle, both of us running regularly – the Hat much more regularly than me.

But what good is clean living if you’ve got nothing to clean up? I still eat a taco most days, in my house in the morning. I make a good breakfast taco too, but sometimes I have to get out of my own kitchen. Lest I become humorless and bitter, I’ve got to avail myself of a taqueria in our city that is home to some of the best taco sellers in the world.

Gabriels-LenguaAt Gabriel’s, I ordered my usual, a carne guisada and a chorizo and egg. Dr. Hat ordered a lengua taco and a barbacoa taco. The C&E was gentle but pressing with it’s chorizo flavor, sneaking itself past the flavor profile so that while you didn’t notice it in the beginning, by the time you swallowed the flavor of the egg had all but disappeared. The carne G was straight ahead beef and gravy. Like a well made brick wall – nothing fancy, but substantial and humbly well crafted. The tortillas were delicious. Top notch. Still hot from the flat-top. Not quite browned, and soft as a baker’s wife’s hips, and with a dusting of flower on the surface. They were really the star of the show – as they should be. Like a drummer in a band – if the tortilla isn’t good, the rest of the taco can never live up to its potential.

Hat and I discussed important matters, and schemed to persist in our defense of the righteous taco. At the end of the meal, as we parted in the parking lot with a secret handshake, vowing to stay true to the cause, we both left content that no government or industry can get a foothold in Corpus Christi without the favor of the fans of tacos. We won’t have to stay underground for much longer.

Our Taco Award Winner for this week is:

Christie-Brinkley-Taco-Award-WinnerChristie Brinkley

If you have read this section before, you know what it consists of. So pardon me for getting meta, but it’s usually a georgeous – often buxom, often older – celebrity who I would love to see wearing a tacotopia t-shirt, and with whom I would really enjoy having tacos. It isn’t that I have anything against younger celebrities, but there are so many women in showbiz who are overlooked once they turn 30. The women I think deserve recognition are usually older than me, women I grew up admiring, and I’m far from a kid now.

There’s usually a repackaging of facts gathered from wikipedia, imdb, and any articles on them in the first two pages of google search results, and a carefully selected photo – one that shows off their visage without being enough to offend too many people. Then I sprinkle some links and puns, perhaps a double entendre, and J’ai fini. So here goes:

This is what 60 looks like, at least on Christie Brinkley. She’s had work done, but tastefully. There is no cartoonish baloony duckface, no giant fake boobs, no orange spray tan. What there is is the results of 6 decades of diet, exercise, and making mostly the right choices. I say mostly because she’s been married four times. Her second husband was Billy Joel who, once a gifted craftsman of schmaltzy pop hits with heart, failed to write a single great song ever again once the marriage was consumated. Tell her about how blindly commercial your music became, Billy, as you try on musical decades like they were costume changes at a Cher drag show. Okay, maybe he got dosed with Polonium when he went to Russia and his music suffered. It would explain why Christie looks like she’s in her mid 40s, and he looks like an apple doll. Okay, I can’t lie – I love early Billy Joel, and I’m just bitter about how his music changed as he grew older and more self-important.

I will say that Christie Brinkley was the poster on my wall when I was 14, and I remember thinking about her a lot as a young teenager, after watching National Lampoon’s Vacation – thinking of the horrible decision Chevy Chase was faced with at that swimming pool. Sure he did the right thing, but oh the regret.

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 the back of said poster to

Toña’s – Making Good in the Hood

Tortilleras 4418 Prescott St, Corpus Christi, Texas 78416

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.

PrescottVillageSo 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.

TacosThe 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:

EsmeBiancoWinsTacoAward2Esmé Bianco

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  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


Taqueria Tierra Caliente – Not That Hot


Taqueria Tierra Caliente
Ayers St and 18th St
Corpus Christi, Texas

Some places are doomed to fail. You know the places I’m talking about. A new restaurant opens up, and by the time you got there to try it out it’s out of business. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. In the restaurant business this is called a ‘location curse.’ These are often buildings with no apparent impediments to traffic, and they can kill businesses that have proven business models and excellent food.

Running a restaurant is no easy business. While it may not be as bad as people expect, according to a data-rich study by the National Restaurant Association of Dallas restaurants, 23% of restaurants fail within the first year. By the second that number jumps to 37%, and by the third year it’s 44%. Bear in mind this is in Dallas, which spends more per-capita on dining out than almost any other city in the US. Dallas is a city with a thriving economy. Corpus Christi, though showing signs of improvement, was dealt an economic disability when the bottom fell out of the domestic oil market. We’ve got the Eagle Ford Shale now, but it has yet to transform the spending habits of most Corpitos. We hold on to our money, or spend it on trucks, or support family who have no means to support themselves. Our money is less disposable than you’d think. When you break down the numbers, adjusted for the cost of living, and compare Dallas to Corpus Christi you’re led to believe we’re in comparable financial situations, but you wouldn’t know it to live here. While Dallas restaurants are packed with people spending money, Corpus Christi has many excellent taquerias that serve food that is artificially underpriced in order to survive in such a competitive market. The bottom line is this: it’s hard to make it as a restaurant in Corpus Christi. You’ve got to be better than the next guy, and your margins have to be razor thin.

If you add to that a location curse, you’ve got to be a really special restaurant to make it. Taqueria Tierra Caliente is not that special. It’s in a location that’s housed two other taquerias I’ve reviewed that have since failed. I was hoping when my wife and I pulled up to the grand opening sign we’d be treated to some hope for the curse to be broken, but instead we were treated to disappointment. The coffee was burnt, the chorizo was undercooked, and the carne guisada was some of the toughest I’ve had. It wasn’t all bad: the tortillas (both flour and corn) were both excellent, as were both the salsas. The green really kicked me in the ass. The server was friendly too. When I checked for the address on google, it gave me the intersection of Baldwin and Ayers, so I can only conclude this restaurant has moved from one doomed location to another. I wish these guys the best of luck, but If you’re looking for a good taco in this neighborhood, you’d be better off trying Chacho’s or even La Ribera.


Our Taco Award Winner for this week is:

Cassandra-Peterson-Wins-Taco-AwardCassandra Peterson

You know her as Elvira, and like the undead she refuses to die. First appearing in 1981, Elvira is as much a touchstone of the horror genre as anyone, living or dead (or both). She’s been on television, in movies, commercials, comic books, calendars, posters, records, and lunch boxes. You name it, she’s put her ample cleavage and campy quips on it. She was MS3TK before MS3TK. She was also the stripper on the cover of Tom WaitsSmall Change. I used to watch her every week when I was 12. I’m old now, but she is as sexy as she ever was, at 61 in the photo here. I’d eat flies just to watch over her coffin at night. 


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 the ADAM 1976 pinup calendar to