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S.A. Puffy Tacos vs. H-town Puffy Tacos

“Everybody in San Antonio makes puffy tacos the same way,” Ray Lopez at Henry’s Puffy Tacos told me. You make tortillas out of raw masa and throw them in the deep fryer in a form to keep their shape. The resulting taco shell has a bubbly, crispy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside texture that Tex-Mex fans in the Alamo City love. Puffy tacos are also popular in the Valley, in Austin, and elsewhere. But in Houston, puffy tacos are something entirely different.

At Loma Linda, a tortilla is deep-fried until it bubbles up into a crispy shape, then its filled. But it’s nearly impossible to pick up these “puffy tacos” and eat them, they tend to shatter and fall apart. Then you eat them with a knife and fork. They’re good, but they’re not the same thing as San Antonio puffy tacos.

In our cooking experiments for the El Real Tex-Mex Cafe menu, Bryan Caswell and I are making the fresh masa variety. We both love them and we’ve found that many taco lovers swoon over them too. (Especially if they ever lived in San Antonio.) But Tex-Mex fans from Houston find them unfamiliar–they are suspicious of the fresh masa flavor. One wag said they tasted like they were made out of hush puppies.

What’s your take on puffy tacos?

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