Today, both KENS 5 and the San Antonio Current reported that Arturo Lopez, the creator of the Puffy Taco and owner of Ray’s Drive Inn, has passed away. Prior to coming to San Antonio a decade ago, I never heard of a puffy taco—it was always just “crispy” or “soft.” But when I discovered how amazing a lightly fried corn tortilla transformed the dish, I was hooked.
While it’s sad that the pioneer of this uniquely San Antonio dish is no longer with us, I thought that I’d take a moment and share three of my favorite spots in town to order a puffy taco.
Rest in peace Mr. Lopez and thanks for all you’ve done for the city.
1. Ray’s Drive-Inn
You have to start this list with the restaurant that was the birthplace of the puffy taco. Originally started by Arturo’s older brother Ray Lopez in the mid 50s, Arturo purchased it in 1966 and brought the puffy taco to the people. It’s not just Ray’s, it’s el rey when it comes to puffy tacos.
This is a classic Westside drive-in with an inside that has a hodgepodge of San Antonio paraphernalia and even an altar in one of the corners. The people are friendly and the puffy tacos are amazing—somehow they are perfectly fried and devoid of excess oils that cause many a puffy taco to “disintegrate” in your hands. Don’t bother with a combo plate—if you’re hungry, just order three.
822 SW 19th St, San Antonio, TX 78207
2. Teka Molino
The folks at Teka Molino make the masa fresh each day—in fact, my friend Hilah over at Hilah Cooking stopped by to learn how to make the puffy tacos first hand. Hopefully you’re there on a day where a puffy taco plate is part of a lunch combo and you can get a Mexican pastry included as dessert.
1007 Rittiman Rd, San Antonio, TX 78218
3. Mama Garcia’s
I know I haven’t written about Mama Garcia’s just yet, but it is a great family owned restaurant off of Rittiman Road. They have a solid lunch combo plate with enchiladas and a puffy taco. I like to get mine with guacamole at this place. The puffy shell is perfectly flaky, but be sure to take advantage of this pro-tip: ask for the puffy taco to be served on a side plate so that the enchilada sauce doesn’t saturate the bottom of the taco. This will save it from breaking on you.
4413 Rittiman Rd, San Antonio, TX 78218