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Brain is a Terrible Thing to Waste

We had some excellent barbacoa y sesos tacos at Gerardo’s on Saturday morning. You don’t see brain in the tacos much anymore. Meat packers stopped shipping brains after mad cow disease made everybody so nervioso about eating them. The only place you see them anymore is in carnecerias where they make old fashioned barbacoa from cabezas–like Gerardo’s. If you thought all barbacoa was made from cabezas, you would be mistaken. The whole heads have gotten expensive so most everybody just braises cheek meat these days and calls it barbacoa. Gerardo’s still cooks whole heads in steam-jacketed kettles every weekend.

Behind the counter at Gerardo's


Victor Leal, the second generation scion of the Leal’s Mexican Restaurant chain and his son Roman Leal were visiting this weekend. Victor is thinking about opening a taqueria in Amarillo and he wanted to check out Houston tacos. I sent him to Tacos A Go Go, 100% Taquito, Berryhill’s, and a couple of taco trucks on Friday. Then on Saturday I took him to Gerardo’s on Patton, Laredo Taqueria on Cavalacade and the Taconazo truck. Victor was blown away by the barbacoa because it was the first thing his mom served at the eatery she opened next to her tortilla factory in Muleshoe back in the 1950s.

Victor Leal and Gerardo's owner Jose Luis Lopez

And I have to say, of all the tacos we tried, Gerardo’s barbacoa and brain taco with homemade chile arbol salsa was my favorite.

2 comments to Brain is a Terrible Thing to Waste

  • Wow, knowing about this is making me RIDICULOUSLY excited. I love offal and I can’t wait to try this out. What a great find!

  • Growing up in San Antonio, we had our favorite “molinos”–places where we could get super-fresh tortillas during the week, and during the weekend barbacoa, tamales, and fresh chicharrones.

    On special days my grandmother would prepare cesos con juevo; with that wrapped up in a hot corn tortilla, I thought I was in heaven.

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