Almeida 1 – the ‘Demon Pass’ Edition

2650 Waldron Road, Corpus Christi, Texas 78418 • 361-939-7488
Chorizo & Egg $1.55 • Carne Guisada $2.05 • Coffee $1.35

It’s was a lonely road I rode this morning, down to the Southland on my morning constitutional. I hear a lot of things from North of here. On one side you’ve got folks sayin’ the revenuer is gonna come and raise our taxes, we should revolt. On the other side they’re tellin’ us if we don’t do what they say it’ll be bad for our health.  The two sides are meeting up at a little crossroad they call ‘Demon Pass,’ and I don’t expect it’ll be pretty. There’s an established protocol they’ve elected to abide by called ‘Slaughter House Rule.’ Personally I think they’re all working together to take advantage of us little guys who are foolish enough to give them any creedence. So I set out this morning to step away from the coming fight that I can’t hope to win – it’s all out of my hands – and to watch the sun rise in the East while wolfing down a desayuno del vaquero.  Old Honda, my horse, complained a bit as I spurred him to a fast gallop down South Padre Island Drive before entering Flour Bluff.

At once I saw a sign for the chow stand, hand-painted on wood, a real beauty. My backup, ‘the Hat,’ had showed up ahead of me and they served him up in short order.  In minutes they had my vittles out as well.  A tall cup of drip coffee and two tacos.  I’d asked for a chorizo & egg, and a carne guisada.  The guisada was pretty tasty with a strong flavor and plenty of cumino. It was big too, and I knew my horse would need some rest after my trip back North. When I got to the chorizo & egg I discovered it had been replaced with an entirely different taco – bait and switch, a tactic those carpetbaggers at Demon Pass might try in the upcoming battle. What I had still looked pretty good, though, and I’m not one to argue with fate, in which case the arguer tends to lose, and I started to eat into what turned out to be a breakfast sausage, egg, cheese & potato taco.  Both tacos were big, and we ate them on the wooden picnic tables set up in the only place there was to eat – an outside covered patio.  The amber lamp of the sun colored everything we were eating with a dusty light, and the wind blew so hard we had to hold down our coffee to keep it from spilling.

The tortillas were handmade, and had blackened patches from the plaqa that were just on the right side of overdone.  There was salsa but it wasn’t much to speak of.  Neither of us talked about the upcoming battle, it was going to happen one way or the other, no matter what we thought.  Maybe it’d be better in the long run, but then again maybe it’d just be another lie the government told us so it could go on doing whatever it wants to do – which seems to be working in cahoots with fatcats and tycoons who build their empires on the broken backs of the people they screwed to pay for it. Once they get a taste for that money you can’t cure’m, and if you let them run free they’ll infect the rest of the herd.  If you ask me we’d be better off if we rounded them all up and stampeded them off the edge of Flour Bluff.

So next time you’re out on the trail, and you see someone on an Texas-sized red and white horse with a little bag of tacos, come on up and set a spell.  That is unless you’re campaigning, then you might as well head on over to Demon Pass.

From The Hat

Good Morning Tacotopia!  Hope Spring Break has been good to you.  If you’re not getting a break, then I hope you’re enjoying the weather.  Thanks to all of you who have left a mark on, the Facebook Fan Page, or on the Caller Times Website.  Special thanks to those who left a raspberry on the NYT site regarding the recent “Best Taco in Texas” brouhaha.  It’s been good to wallow in the much-deserved buzz but it should be noted that no amount of celebrity will keep us from our mission.  That mission had us up dark and early this morning for a trip to the hinterlands – Flour Bluff.

Flour Bluff is hardly the place it used to be.  Historically the butt jokes, usually about shrimpers or missing teeth; The Bluff has seen a renaissance in the last decade or so.  Poised on prime property between the Sparkling City and the Island, it is no wonder that the area has seen population and business growth. I know of one example where people were run out of their ratty residences so the apartments  could be renovated and re-rented to those with more robust resources (Arrrrr!).  While this was an inconvenience for my friend Dicky (Dicky Neely Blues Band), another friend benefitted from the work. I guess that’s how it goes in the world, some get work, others get worked. Dickey, a master of the harmonica still plays the Coastal Bend, contributes to local papers and maintains several blogs including one dedicated to the blues. Being in the Bluff makes me think of Dickey and how I haven’t seen him in a while. I think I’ll do something about that!

The Taco Show Host and I had agreed to meet at Taqueria Almeida #1 on Waldron Rd and I was early.  I had the paper and was looking forward to running through the local items of import, having a cup of coffee, and taking in the atmosphere. Almeida’s #1 came highly recommended by many people including noted FB taco specialist, Terry P. who maintains that they were consistently better than their in-city sister. When I arrived, I had to circle the place before I realized there was no indoor dining area, instead was a nice, clean, covered patio area and a steady stream of customers both drive-up and walk-up. There was a bit of a cold wind, and being dressed in CC formal, I decided to wait in the truck. I ordered a papas con chorizo and a nopalitos and egg, both on flour torts at the walk-up window just as TSH was tying up his horse. The tacos arrived quickly and turned out to be pretty good. The tortillas were fresh with a light dust of flour and both tacos were stuffed to capacity with the goods. The chorizo con papas was flavorful with the vinegary taste that I like. The potatoes were soft, but not over-cooked – a fine offering. The nopalitos taco was served a la Mexicana and had plenty of cactus. The mix needed salt, but other than that, it was also a good offering and will satisfy the cactus jones. I give Taqueria Almeida a thumbs-up.


Isabella Rossellini as the Late, Great Bettie PageOur free taco winner for this week is:

Isabella Rossellini

This Icon of beauty and grace is a writer, activist, actor, filmmaker, philanthropist, model and beauty – looking as good at 57 as many half her age and with but a fraction of her charm. She counts among her lovers Martin Scorsese, David Lynch & Gary Oldman. Her acting career includes roles ranging from the serious (Blue Velvet) to the absurdly funny (30 Rock), and she is presently working on season 3 of Green Porno, a bizarre presentation of the mating practices of animals in which she often portrays, in costume, nature in its most natural act. It is worth noting that Rosselini hails from silver screen royalty, even though they were married to others at the time, her father the director Roberto Rossellini (called the father of the French New Wave) and her mother the legendary Ingrid Bergman.

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 autographed copy of Fearless, or better yet a single piece of thread from the hem of Isabella’s garment, to

Lina’s – Going, But Not Forgotten


Lina’s Mexican Restaurant • 6109 Mcardle Rd • Corpus Christi, TX 78412-3618 • (361) 991-5462

From the Hat

This is the second time that the Taco Show Host and I have chosen the weekly taco research site based primarily on the fact that the shop is closing.  Although I’d never been to Lina’s before, I found myself saddened that she was closing shop.  It’s like The Green Lantern, formerly of Yorktown, TX.  My memory of the Lantern is of a true cafe.  Not one of these pied, glass and chrome places that pass for a diner in the more urban areas of the state, but a cozy, comfortable place with well worn booths, and The Real Thing served up in that curvy glass with a maraschino cherry nestled in the ice.  I can’t drive down the quiet Main St. without thinking about it.  It long ago ceased to exist anywhere but in my thoughts.

Or Mr. Burger, a 4-table dive on the edge of Brady, TX that best I could figure did mostly a drive through or take out business. They had video games inside…a sit-down knock-off of the original Space Invaders and a pinball machine called “The Black Knight”. I spent many an hour keeping Earth safe from invaders and doing battle with the Black Knight in his two-level, multi-ball demesne until he had exhausted my coin. I seem to remember getting burgers to go there a few times – more often though it was a vanilla coke, or some other drink that would make the Twin Sisters Charcoal Filtered Vodka more palatable as we toured Brady in endless circles, identifying others on The Drag by their headlights alone.

Or Milan’s, man I wish this place was still open. This place was hidden in a strip center on the south side of Corpus. Milan and her partner offered up a clever, southwestern-style menu. Shell and I spent many an evening there during our engagement. Quiet, Dark, Romantic, and Great Food – this place and the company were perfect. We heard some vague rumors about taxes…whatever. The bottom line is that it is another example of the transience of things. One day here, the next – memories. And even those are fleeting, reduced now to their emotional content. But I’ll take it.

I’m sure that Lina’s is the kind of place that people will later remember with fondness. Lina, spry and smiling, sat and ate breakfast in the restaurant while we were there. Accompanied by others, the event looked like it had happened a million times. After having a bite of her tortillas, I wished I’d eaten there a million times.


I had a carnitas taco, and a beef super taco, both on flour. The carnitas were served alone in the taco, and needed nothing. I added some of the excellent, very hot salsa about half-way through. The two played well together. The beef super taco was ground beef in the tradition of taco meat. It was richly seasoned with a satisfying amount of salt. Served with fresh iceberg, tomatoes, and a good cheddar – very good. The stars were the great flour tarpoleans. I’ve left the technical analysis of the torts to Ian. The coffee was not as strong as I like it, but flavorful. I plan on creating a few more memories of the place before they close at the end of the month.

From the Taco Show Host

I like things that are a little rough around the edges, a little less than perfect.  Things that shine through in spite of their problems can sometimes be better than things with no flaws.  Perfection, after all, can be embodied in very few things.  The shakers thought they could do it, we see where it landed them.  Persian rugmakers incorporate an intentional flaw in their design so as not to offend god by creating something perfect.  What does this have to do with the price of China in East Westchester? In spite of a few shortcomings to be described in the paragraphs to follow, Lina’s makes tortillas that approach perfection.  I’ve had some good ones in my day, but not this good.  Not to sound like Goldilocks, but they were soft but not too soft, they were big but not too big, they were toasty but not charlie brown.  They are larger than a typical tortilla, about the same thickness, but there is something unique about them that you can’t quite put your finger on.  The texture is unusual, as if there were a thin skin pulled over the body of the tortilla, that is separated from it in most places.  They are of a quality that defies description, the best you can do is to show up before they close at the end of this month and behold the glory that is a Lina’s tortilla.

No homemade corn though, and that’s what I was saying – sometime the flaws make the qualities stand out in greater contrast.  The taco shop in question was old, a little dingy, and the cook looked like he’d been in a fistfight the night before.  The chorizo & egg, though, was heavenly.  I picked it up and juice started pouring out before I could even get a first bite.  So much, in fact, of the bright red juice (yeah, okay, chorizo grease) that I had to put a paper towel on the plate as a dam to keep my carne guisada from being compromised.  I say the redder the better.  Fortunately there was a paper towel dispenser on the table.


The Carne G was something else too – so concentrated was the flavor it needed no salt.  Like Wonka’s Meal Gum, it was as if I were eating a whole side of beef in this not so little taquito.

Shout out to Loring, who gave us the official recommendation for this place – though it’d been on our radar for some time, we wouldn’t have known it was closing and would have missed out without her comment.  I know I’ll be back at least once before the bitter end.



Lina's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Taqueria Almeida #2 – An Upside to the Southside


Taqueria Almeida #2

2033 Airline Rd

Corpus Christi, TX 78412


Chorizo & Egg: $1.69

Carne Guisada: $2.25

Large Coffee: $1.35

As Tacotopia has grown out of its adolescence and developed into a hard working and respected blog (is there such a thing), if only in its tiny niche, it seems only fair that it should consider moving out of the smelly and violent streets of its youth into the fresh, clean and nondescript sprawl of Corpus Christi’s South Side.

IansTacosTaqueria Almeida would fool you into thinking it would have food as non-descript as the ubiquitous plate glass windows of the shopping center in which it’s housed.  It is not, however, without some character and heart. The big digitally produced backlit sign you see when pulling into the lot sits alongside a few hand-painted beauties.  There is a drive through.  There is green carpet on the walls, and lots of old-time Mexican kitsch that make you forget that you’re eating across from the Corpus Christi Athletic Club. It’s not only ironic but if you consider the full bar and the generous portions it’s a finger in the eye to the gym, and a net loss in the ledger of health for the block.

CornTortillaI got the usual; Coffee, Carne Guisada, Chorizo & Egg.  I’m told I should get the C&E here with cheese but I opted to stick to my ‘scientific method’ (the quotes indicate more irony).  The tortillas were excellent and could be a meal in themselves, especially when combined with the salsas (green and red) which are the best I’ve had in ages, except for my mother-in-law’s.  They’re about the only taqueria salsa I can think of that is really hot, and good enough to make you burn your mouth using a lot of it.  The Chorizo & Egg is not bad, not exceptional.  The Carne Guisada is epic in it’s richness.  The reddest I’ve had, and saturated with spice.  And I will be wearing a path to the baño after the five cups of coffee I drank thanks to the quick action of the polite waitresses. Kevy the explorer handled the more challenging edibles on our excursion into Corpus Christi’s exterior (better than the posterior).


There’s something to be said for taking a foray from the familiar, into the foreign.  It was a pleasant surprise to travel traffic-free into the heart of the Dark Side…the South Side.  I usually try to stay out of the Southern part of town.  It’s like a poor copy of the ugliness that is Katy, or Sugarland.  Sprawling, congested, a collection of strip malls and cookie-cutter houses with no character.  Thankfully, there is taco…

On the plate today was the taco version of surf-n-turf.  I ordered up a mollejas on corn, and a fish taco on flour.  Fish tacos are one of my favorite breakfasts.  Today’s version of the dish didn’t stand up to my fish taco standards.  The “McFish” was a fried, food-service style filet that had more than a hint of fishiness to it.  Served with fresh cabbage and tomatoes, it was mostly good, but not great.  The mollejas were fried crisp — a first for me — fresh from the grill is how I usually get them.  Served ala Mexicana, they were well-seasoned but closer to chicharrones in texture than the soft deliciousness when hot off the grill.

The saving grace of the meal was the salsa!  Wow!  Both the green and the red were delicioso.  With heat enough to open your eyes wide and make you blush.  The green salsa was served in a squeeze bottle like some bizarro ketchup, making for easy application.  The tortillas were excellent, both flour and corn.  The coffee was cafe good, tasty and not too strong, served in a never-ending cup.  The wait staff was courteous and attentive — a positive, but not stellar experience.

If you find yourself in the suburban wasteland of South Corpus Christi and you’re looking for something unique, point your weary self toward this oasis of local flavor.