San Luis – New Blood, Old West

410 Highway 181 • Gregory, Texas • 361-643-5717
Mon-Sat 6am–8pm • Sun 7am–3pm

New restaurants serve food that can be misleading. It’s like when a guy first goes on a date with a girl (or vice versa). He puts his best foot forward, dresses nice, shaves, makes sure he doesn’t smell, and tries to fool her into thinking he’s not an animal. She sometimes pretends to be fooled. It’s a game we play, a protocol, a dance, until interface has been established. Until they know who the other is, and how to communicate and what to expect. Eventually the dance turns into routine. Routine is comfortable, though not exciting. With people this means each knows what they contribute, and does that in an efficient way. Things get taken care of, and a foundation of memory is built.

It’s the same with a restaurant. San Luis in Gregory is brand new, with a grand opening banner flapping in the parking lot. The smells of musty ceiling tiles, grease, and years of great food haven’t had time to season the place yet. The staff is still working out responsibilities, and everyone is on their best behavior. Their food may be different a year from now, but I couldn’t wait to try this spot with the storied name of San Luis, so close to my house in Portland, and it didn’t disappoint as it’s brother in Corpus Christi has. The place is a steel building, and the interior walls are finished out with varnished pine, floor to ceiling. It is cavernous, with an adjoining bar and a drive-through. The obligatory photos of Pancho Villa hang next to garish flat screens showing not Univision, but Kelly Ripa. Spanish and English were both spoken by the staff, depending on the complexion of the table. The common thread holding together the theme of the place seems to be the cowboy myth, alive and well here minus the cows. It wouldn’t surprise me to show up one night and find the tables moved to make way for a dance floor, and locals two-stepping in creased, starched jeans and cowboy boots.

I ordered a chorizo and egg, and a carne guisada. The chorizo and egg was fair, heavy on the egg and light on the chorizo. The carne guisada was good, and the meat was choice and fresh. The gravy had a bit of a black-pepper finish. The tortillas were bigger than average and couldn’t have been made too long before they hit my plate. They were substantial, fresh enough to be soft, but heavy enough to defy their contents to escape, including drippings. The coffee was the weak spot, literally, but served its purpose, and the salsa was better than most, a color hard to make out in the dim lights, greenish-red, thick and too fresh to have had time to separate into clumps of pepper and spicy water.

The other taco places directly North of the Nueces Bay Causeway leave a little to be desired, and this place is new blood – but I think it may even be better than that. It may be able to compete with places in Corpus Christi proper. I’ll know better after we get to know each other better.

Our Taco Award Winner for this week is:

Anna Gunn

Not a lot can be gleaned on the interwebs about Anna Gunn. She’s from Santa Fe, she’s done stage work, she is 43 and she’s smoking hot. Other than that, one could infer she’s a private person. That’s all I’ve got, but she’s the main reason Walter White does what he does in AMC‘s Breaking Bad, which premieres its new season July 15th.

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 an eightball of blue sky to

La Iguana

3833 Saratoga Blvd, Corpus Christi, Texas • 361-857-2247

It’s two days from Christmas. Christmas Eve Eve. I did about half of my shopping yesterday, in bold defiance of any instinct I posses for self-preservation. Today I wrap, and label, and do setup on any electronics. I will also be sharpening a couple of knives that I will exchange in the place of gifts, but it is bad luck to give a knife – as it signifies severance of the relationship (scissors as well). So I enclose a coin with the knife for the recipient to give back to me in exchange for the knife. It’s a superstition loophole, apparently ridiculous – but isn’t most superstition, including Christmas – celebrated on December 25th – which is likely not the date of Christ’s birth, and probably not even the right month according to religious scholars (and wikipedia, a source I’m more likely to trust). But enough digs at cherished popular belief. Kids love Santa and adults love to think Jesus was born on Christmas day, rather than the unpleasant but more likely alternative: that it was planned to coincide with a pagan winter festival in order to absorb it rather than compete against it. Why defy this quaint tradition, especially when the end result is not only an outpouring of love and an embrace of family, but also a financial stimulus bordering on a voluntary annual regressive tax – putting low income families into debt in order to give manufacturers and retailers what will probably be one of the best months in years. I’ll take it as long as I can have some eggnog, and chill with family I’ve not seen in a year, and maybe have a tamale or two. And tamales are really just tacos made with grits instead of tortillas, and a whole lot of love and hard work – work done mostly by Mexican women, let’s be frank. Hats off to all the abuelas and tias who spend hours over steaming pots and around tables piled high with the physical manifestation of the love of family, the essence of Christmas.


In the absence of tamales, I set out this morning in search of the next best thing, and ended up at La Iguana on Saratoga. I ordered carne guisada and chorizo & egg, both on flour. The tortillas were impeccable; fresh to order, barely charlie brown, with no flour dusting. The carne guisada was the slightest bit chewy, but the flavor was excellent, and the gravy a dark brown. I’d guess it is homemade. The chorizo & egg was mixed, heavy on the egg, but the chorizo had good flavor, and the salsa was good and hot. On top of this, the service was fantastic. I think they saw my camera, and acted accordingly. I couldn’t imagine them being this attentive to every customer. The restaurant was sparkling clean, and the coffee good and plentiful. They did not have tamales, but one can’t have everything.

Our free taco winner for this week is:

Sherilyn Fenn

She was, to me, at the beginning of the 90s, the most beautiful woman in the world. A classic beauty who could hold her own with Marilyn Monroe or Aria Giovanni. When a girl I was dating at that time told me she was interested in women, I gave her a copy of the December 1990 issue of Playboy to help encourage her. I guess it didn’t work, none of the 3 or 4 friends of mine that she slept with were women, but I have no regrets. Fenn grew up around performers, her father managed Alice Cooper, and her aunt is Suzi Quatro. She Inspired Dita Von Teese to dye her hair black, and inspired Johnny Depp to scrawl her name across his helmet in Platoon. She burned up the screen for years, appearing in a slew of notable movies: The Wild Life (which should be a cult movie), Of Mice and Men, and Just One of the Guys. David Lynch, who directed her in Twin Peaks, described her as  “Five feet of heaven in a ponytail.”  In the last decade she has not been prominent, but she’s continued to work and continued to be beautiful. She now raises her kids, acts occasionally, blogs, does some philanthropic work, and hangs with her lucky husband. 46 looks pretty damned good on her.

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 in on a dvd of  Two Moon Junction to

Hacienda Vieja – Dignified Defiance

4301 S. Staples St, Corpus Christi, Texas • 361-994-6530

I make my way down staples to go from North to South if I have the time, and if my pickup’s suspension is up to the task, and if schools aren’t letting out, because I like the way it looks. My GPS tells me to take Crosstown to SPID. My wife will always take Ocean. I, however prefer Staples which is like a woman with Borderline Personality Disorder: often rude and ugly, people say bad things about her, but she is always being used. I have a morbid affection for the sad and broken. I often stop at the Sunrise Mall, located on Staples, so that I can pay my respects before it gives up the ghost.

Ad for Piggly Wiggly on Staples, 1927

For those of you who don’t live here, Staples was once a main artery that is now old and hardened. Littered with decrepit buildings and people who have no illusions about the difficulty of this world, Staples grudges ahead in admirable fashion, dragging the broken pieces of it’s history behind it. If you’re from Austin, think Lamar in the 80s. Here there is no irony, what you see is what you get. Vestiges of the glory of the 50s and 60s are barely visible, as a Wal Mart is built upon the grave of Parkdale Village like the housing development in Poltergeist. “You moved the cemetery, but you left the bodies, didn’t you? You son of a bitch, you left the bodies and you only moved the headstones! You-only-moved-the-headstones! Why? Why?”

Located toward the less abject end of Staples is Hacienda Vieja, ‘Old Plantation.’ You don’t have to look to closely at the Hacienda Vieja to recognize the signature ‘architecture’ that says “I was once a Bill Miller.” Freshly, if barely, remodeled, it doesn’t smell like a taqueria, but you acclimate quickly. I was greeted by the Hat, and friend of Tacotopia Joe Hilliard. The company was great. The tacos, slightly less than great but good at least. The chorizo and egg was unobtrusive, a bit too polite for my taste but well dressed with a hint of cinnamon. The carne guisada consisted of nearly perfect cubes of beef whose texture was almost as ideal as their shape. The sauce was not bad, definitely a house recipe, no food service here (I’d guess). The tortillas were fresh and good, maybe a tad doughy. The salsa roja was sloppy and hot, heavy on the chiles with a dry finish. The coffee came in tiny brown coffee cups that, though we tried, we could not empty without a pretty waitress refilling them. We observed that they have a full bar but I didn’t order anything that would muscle out the 20 cups of coffee. I’ll be back.

As we emerged, we saw El Aleño a block away with a new paint job since we reviewed it nearly 2 years ago. Another new face on an old character.

Our Taco Award Winner for this week is:

Marcia Gay Harden

A Navy brat, Marcia Gay Harden has been around the world. She has acted on stage and screen, winning an Oscar and a Tony. She graduated from UT Austin, and then NYU, and is often cast as an uptight mother as in Whip-It (damn she wore that postal uniform well though) but I fixated on her when I first saw her in 1991’s Crush. Since then she’s turned some stellar performances in a ton of movies such as Miller’s Crossing, the Spitfire Grill, Pollock (for which she won an Oscar for playing the too-ugly-for-Marcia-to-portray Lee Krasner), Spy Hard, Mystic River, and Into the Wild. At 51, she is as beautiful as she was at 21, and is in my opinion one of the best actors around.

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 Miller’s Crossing to