Food - Drink
What Makes San Antonio's Puffy Tacos Unique
Behind Austin, Texas, and San Jose, California, San Antonio is the third-best city for tacos in the United States. The city has nearly five taco spots for every 100 thousand people, with varieties ranging from barbacoa to vegan, but there's one type of taco you can't find anywhere else — San Antonio's puffy taco.
A puffy taco's tortilla fills with air, creating a satisfying bite that's both tough yet tender, light yet sturdy, and crispy yet soft. The secret to the puffy taco lies in the masa dough; masa is flour made from dried corn kernels that have been soaked in calcium hydroxide or lime water, then cooked and ground.
The puffy taco was invented by accident; in the early 1900s, Maria Rodriguez Lopez was frying tostadas as usual, but the stick she used to keep the tostadas separate slipped, falling on top of one of the tortillas. Being distracted, Maria left the tostadas to fry longer than usual and they began to inflate.
More than 240 restaurants in San Antonio make puffy tacos — even inside a repurposed Dairy Queen at Los Barrios Mexican Restaurant. If you can’t make the trip to San Antonio, you can always try making puffy tacos at home, but be sure to use fresh masa and not masa harina, or instant masa.