Puffy Tacos: A San Antonio Twist on a Tex-Mex Tradition

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Tony Maples Photography


Few places serve tacos quite like restaurants in San Antonio do. It’s not the fillings that set apart San Antonio tacos; it’s the shells themselves. Instead of using hard, flat fried tortillas, San Antonio restaurants proudly dish up puffy tacos. These tacos are fried until the tortillas puff up, making for a unique dining experience. If you’ve never had a puffy taco, you need to visit San Antonio to try one. These tacos are so well-known that trying one is something many add to their bucket lists.

What are Puffy Tacos?

Puffy tacos from La Hacienda de los Barrios in San Antonio

Photo: Facebook/La Hacienda de los Barrios

Puffy tacos do not have the same texture as more common hard or soft tacos. Though the shells are fried as those for hard tacos, they do not have a crunchy texture. Instead, to make puffy tacos, uncooked masa (corn) dough gets deep-fried, as opposed to frying cooked corn tortillas. The difference means the raw dough cooks and puffs up in the hot oil, similar to a sopapilla. Once cooked, the taco shells get filled and served immediately. Just like sopapillas, these do not taste nearly as good after they’ve cooled or been reheated. For the best puffy taco experience, either make your own or visit one of the many places in San Antonio that serve them.

Origins of Puffy Tacos

The founder of Henry's Puffy Tacos created the puffy taco in the 1950s

Photo: Facebook/Henry’s Puffy Tacos

Though you can find these tacos all over Texas now, they remain a creation of San Antonio, and compared to other Tex-Mex treats, puffy tacos are a very recent invention. In the 1950s, Henry Lopez, while working at Ray’s Drive Inn, owned by his older brother Ray, experimented with frying uncooked masa dough. His work resulted in the creation of puffy tacos, which are still served at Ray’s Drive Inn today as well as Henry Lopez’s family’s restaurant, Henry’s Puffy Tacos. Find both these restaurants in San Antonio, but they are not the only places to visit when you crave these specialty tacos.

Where to Get Puffy Tacos in San Antonio

Puffy tacos from Rosario's Mexican Cafe y Cantina

Photo: Facebook/Rosario’s Mexican Café y Cantina

If you get a yearning to bite into the tender, flaky puffiness of these tacos, visit any of the many restaurants in San Antonio that serve them. Rosario’s Mexican Café y Cantina has puffy tacos on the menu, as does La Hacienda de los Barrios. Some have likened Patsy’s Place to Ray’s Drive Inn since some employees of the latter opened the former. Try the tacos at both restaurants and decide for yourself. Since San Antonio can call itself the birthplace of puffy tacos, you can readily find multiple places around town to satisfy your craving. Explore the city to find your favorite place for puffy taco perfection.