The Making of a Puffy Taco

Chicken Puffy Tacos at El Real

Back in August of last year I posted an item about the Tex-Mex puffy taco. We were building the menu of El Real Tex-Mex Cafe at the time. In the process we sampled a great many puffy tacos in hopes of perfecting our own. It took a whole lot of trial and error, but when we opened we had our puffy taco ready. If you haven’t tried it yet, I invite you to check it out and tell me how it rates compared to the greats.

The puffy tacos at Sammy’s Mexican Restaurant in La Vernia are among the best I’ve had. They were a lot sturdier than most. As you are probably aware, the biggest problem with puffy tacos is the lack of structural integrity.

Puffy tacos have been on my mind a lot lately. A couple of days ago, I tried the incredibly fragile puffy tacos at Loma Linda on Telephone Road in Houston. They are quite tasty, but the stewed chicken version falls apart within minutes of hitting the table. The ground beef taco meat version offers a slightly longer window of dining opportunity, but both of these puffy tacos are very delicate. I am thinking these are made by frying a regular, fully-cooked corn tortilla in hot oil–just like the queso puffs.

The puffy tacos at Los Barrios in San Antonio are much more substantial. They are made from fresh masa which puffs up when it fries. I love the puffy tacos at Los Barrios, but the stewed chicken version has the same problem that every stewed chicken puffy taco has–the juicy chicken makes the fried masa soggy and the taco falls apart when you pick it up.

Los Barrios puffy tacos have lately acquired legendary status. In June, the owner of Los Barrios, Diana Barrios Trevino, prepared them on the White House lawn at the invitation of President Obama. The event was called “Taste of the States” and it was a picnic for members of congress and their families. The country was split into five regions, and Diana’s puffy tacos were chosen to represent the Southwest.

13 thoughts on “The Making of a Puffy Taco

  1. Todd Buckton


    Come up to the midwest for puffy tacos like you’ve never seen before.

    Des Moines, Iowa is the home of Tasty Tacos (, famous for their “original flour taco”. The “original” is an uncooked flour tortilla filled with a spiced bean/ground beef mixture and fried; then dressed with lettuce, tomato and cheddar with excellent home made hot sauce on the side. Delectable, wickedly addictive and worth a trip to the Tall Corn State.

    Thanks for keeping the Tex Mex alive!

  2. Augustus

    I went and had these today for lunch, they were awesome…I got the piccadillo and the shell held together just fine….I just have to slow down on the chips, damn fine chips…

  3. Jason

    El Real Puffy Tacos are very good. We went to try to place out last Thursday. By the way, El Real salsa is about the best I have ever had.

    I grew up in Ft. Worth where we had Caro’s. If you ever get a chance to go up there, please give it a try.

  4. JP

    Robb –

    My wife, son, and I enjoyed dinner at El Real earlier this week. I grew up in San Antonio, and the Enchiladas were spot on. The puffy tacos (chicken, pork, with a picadillo a la carte) were good, but were pretty dry. The dryness was cured with a splash of salsa, some sour cream, and small spoonful of guacamole. My wife says that “the shell is not as greasy and fluffy as those that we get in San Antonio”.

    Our 2 year old pounded the chips, ate all of his quesadilla, and loved the refried beans.

    Keep up the good work, we’ll be back many, many times. It’s worth the drive from Sugar Land.


  5. sam sonderegger

    i eat frybread tacos @pow wows and in new mexico,kinda similar.i used to like the puffy tacos @marcos in almeda mall.

  6. James Dudley

    With all due respect to the great State of Iowa, I think I’ll pass on the puffy taco advice from the “Tall Corn State”.

  7. Sheila

    Beautiful…simply beautiful! Got to visit when I come to Texas. Miss my Tex-Mex food, stuck in Nebraska like I am!

  8. Jack Black

    The puffy tacos at El Real do not come close the S. A. puffy tacos.

  9. Neva

    Tasty tacos flour tacos are the best!!! Mosqedas have been making them in their family restarant since 1961,from
    their family recipes…great food…everything is prepared fresh…oi ts worth the trip…

  10. Taco Pastorius

    Lol @ James Dudley. Iowa is full of great tacos, as our agriculture production has brought in a large Latino population, who in turn brought their regional cuisines. Keep an open mind, many states not named Texas have very valid taco advice.

  11. Kim

    We were heart broken to hear why Caro’s closed. It was our long time favorite & we would visit it several times a year after we moved to Dallas. We were shocked last year when we got there to find it gone. Do you know how their hot sauce was made?? What kind of pepper?? It was so good, and I’ve never had anything like it.

  12. Norma

    I’ve had the puffy tacos at Los Barrios, delish, but had to eat it with a fork. It all fell apart. I’m thinking dont do stewed meat. Do a little greasy kinda meat and that way the grease will coat the taco. Maybe it wont fall apart.

  13. Vince

    The best fry read tacos I ever had were in Des Moines. Anytime someone at work has to go there I volunteer just for two things tasty tacos and the drake diner for their chili burger and onion rings

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