¡Saludos! Welcome. You likely arrived here via Texas Monthly’s The 120 Tacos You Must Eat Before You Die issue. Thanks. I began working on that editorial package more than a year ago, when Pat Sharpe, the magazine’s food critic, and I initiated a conversation about what form a taco issue would take. Eventually we designed an evaluation sheet (printed in the magazine for your use); set about organizing a team (small but mighty); a schedule (grueling); and what I would contribute (a joyful lot). It was a dream come true for me.
I kicked off my exploration of Texas’ taco landscape in 2010, shortly after moving to the state. Initially I focused on exploring Dallas via public transit. Then I widen my scope to suburbs like Richardson and Addison. Fort Worth was next. Along the way, I ate tacos across Austin, where I have family and friends. Eventually I set my sights on San Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley.
Texas and its tacos are beautiful, I thought.
So when a cousin presented me with a worn copy of Texas Monthly’s December 2006 issue, The 63 Tacos You Must Eat Before You Die, I was crestfallen. There was so much wrong—beginning with the No. 1 taco: Fuel City’s picadillo taco. While that greasy envelope repeatedly left me feeling as if I had just shotgunned used cooking oil, I must admit, its selection put Dallas on the taco map. But there was better tacos be had in Dallas—not to mention Texas. I was determined to find it and document it with a little trolling of Texas Monthly here and there.
Soon enough, though, via friendships and via social media the craziest things happened. I was learning things. I don’t only mean learning history and variety; I mean learning things like the stupidity of knee-jerk reactions. I began using that knowledge, and people were paying attention. I started to write about tacos for anyone who would accept a pitch, including for my own employer, Cowboys & Indians magazine, where I am the food editor. Many of my taco stories are available here.
Thousands of taco later, I was working with Pat Sharpe and the Texas Monthly team to craft an issue that reflected the diversity of tacos in the state with a foundation of respect and knowledge beyond “legit” and “inauthentic.” The 120 Tacos You Must Eat Before You Die is the result, and I couldn’t be prouder. Texas tacos are beautiful.
There are myriad individuals to whom I owe my gratitude for working on this project—among them Texas Monthly’s Brian Sweany, Kate Rodemann, Daniel Vaughn and Pat Sharpe, as well as my trustiest taco traveling companions, Jon Daniel and photographer Robert Strickland. I owe you, dear reader, thanks too. Gracias for visiting the Taco Trail. Stick around. There’s more to eat.