San Antonio Puffy Tacos for #SundaySupper


One of my favorite things about being part of the SundaySupper bloggers is how the weekly themes make me think beyond what I might normally do as a home cook.  This week was definitely one of those times as I had to consider what would I make from my Recipe Bucket List. Problem was I don’t have a Recipe Bucket List. So, I thought what to do? I’ve made fresh ravioli, homemade oxtail gnocchi, stuffed chicken, and a few other things came to mind, but all things I’ve done. Then it hit me.  Puffy Tacos.

When I was in San Antonio doing training for a potential wireline union strike at the phone company I had a chance to stop at Los Barrios, a well-known Mexican restaurant famous for their puffy tacos. At first, I wasn’t impressed with the place. It looked like a local Chi-Chi’s with tile tabletops, typical Mexican-American menu combo plates, and a focus on margaritas.  I was ready to be unimpressed and back to my true South of the Border love – street tacos (I have another blog where I review ‘street tacos’ found at Gas Stations.)

I ordered what I came for: Puffy Tacos.  They were great and the margarita was pretty good too.  They’re definitely different from the typical street taco I love and still prefer over a puffy taco, but the tacos at Los Barrios were pretty darn good and I left pleased with my evening out in San Antonio.

With a Recipe Bucket List decision to be made and my now living in Los Angeles, not Dallas, it was going to be some time before I returned to San Antonio so why not try doing this dish at home. Well that is just what I did and while they were not as perfect as Los Barrios; they were pretty good and a solid 4 out of 5 rating from this taco reviewer.

What might of helped is having a deep fryer and some additional experimentation. Plus I had trouble finding fresh masa corn flour. There was some at a local natural food market last week, but when I returned this week they said they only carried it during the holidays.  Too bad. So I went to the market and found some masa harina from Bob’s Red Mill that worked nicely, better than I thought it would.  So if you can’t find fresh masa, don’t worry just use a good quality masa harina and carry-on.

Puffy Taco Tortillas
Makes 6-10 shells

2 cups fresh masa or good quality masa harina
1 cup warm water (if using masa harina)
1 tablespoon lard or butter
2 Tablespoons baking powder
Vegetable oil for frying

You’ll need a tortilla press to make this recipe. I recommend finding an authentic Mexican market and find a press that is entirely flat, no lip or shallow cutout as some have. Also the heavier feeling the press the better – cast iron is preferred.

Mix the masa and baking powder together if using masa harina. If using fresh masa, just put into a bowl.  Slowly add the warm water to your flour constantly combining with your hands and finally add the lard or butter (I microwaved butter for 5 seconds, soft not melted.)

Continue kneading together and add a little more water if it is too dry and crumbly.  Add a little more masa if it is too wet. You want it to feel smooth and not sticky.

Combine into a large ball and put into a Ziploc bag for 20 minutes.

Open the tortilla press and place a sheet of parchment paper on each side of the press.  Take out about 1 ½” inches of tortilla dough and roll into a smooth ball.  Press in the center of the press.

Put the tortilla on a hot griddle or heavy non-stick pan.  Let it cook for 20-30 seconds on each side.  With a spatula remove it and place it into another pan with about a 1” of hot oil.

Let the tortilla fry for about 20 seconds it will begin to puff. With a spatula and some tongs navigate the frying tortilla to give it a center, “V” like form. Continue frying for about 1 minute working to maximize the puffiness of the tortilla. Remove from oil and place on a plate lined with paper towel.

Continue with remaining dough then fill with your favorite filling.


Puffy Taco Filling
Makes 6-8 tacos

1 lb ground beef
½ small red onion, minced
½ green pepper, minced
½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp tomato paste
1 ripe tomato, diced
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups chopped lettuce

Mix beef with cumin, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Heat ground beef in a pan over medium-high heat.  Break up the meat and cook for about 6-8 minutes. Add the onion, bell pepper and tomato paste.  Mix in pan and cook for about another 2-3 minutes.

Put cooked beef mixture into a puffy taco then top with tomato, cheese and lettuce.  Serve with some hot sauce like Tapatio and a couple cut limes.


For more Recipe Bucket List adventures checkout the other #SundaySupper bloggers and join the chat on Twitter Sunday at 7pm EST.

This Week’s Sunday Supper Recipes:

Sunday Supper Specialty Breads:

Sunday Supper Main Dishes:

Sunday Supper Desserts and Snacks:

Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter each Sunday. We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET and you do not want to miss out on the fun. Follow the#SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Don’t forget to also check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.

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  • Patti

    I saw these on Throwndown with Bobby Flay and wanted to try these Chris! They look awesome!!

    • http://www.sustainabledad.com/ Chris Baccus

      I’ll have to look up the show. Thanks.

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  • http://twitter.com/SheLikesRuffles Katie C

    YUM! You officially have me craving these – the puffy taco shells look incredible…

    • http://www.sustainabledad.com/ Chris Baccus

      My wife looked a tad unsure about this one but when we sat down to eat she really liked them. Now I’m craving them this morning and I have no leftovers…

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  • http://www.wendyweekendgourmet.com/ Wendy

    Puffy tacos are a TOTAL San Antonio thing…so much so that the minor league baseball team’s mascot is a dude dressed as a puffy taco. No lie! Los Barrios does a very good version! If you make it back here for a visit, give Henry’s Puffy Tacos a try. They invented puffy tacos and make a pretty mean one too!!

    • http://www.sustainabledad.com/ Chris Baccus

      Thanks Wendy. Will definitely give Henry’s a try when I make it back to San Antonio. Too funny about the mascot. Love it.

  • http://twitter.com/familyfoodie Isabel Foodie

    Wow! These look amazing…looks like you nailed it. I just now added a must try to my bucket list! Happy New Year!

    • http://www.sustainabledad.com/ Chris Baccus

      Thanks. Honestly, it took a couple tacos before they started to get a nice puff.

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  • http://twitter.com/JuanitasCocina Juanita’s Cocina

    We always go to Los Barrios when we go to San Antone! But, we love to make ours at home too!

    • http://www.sustainabledad.com/ Chris Baccus

      Great thing about places like Los Barrios is the food tastes like you are eating at someone’s home.

  • http://twitter.com/NicoleHCook Nicole Humphrey Cook

    Oh I just love how these puff up and they look absolutely delicious!

    • http://www.sustainabledad.com/ Chris Baccus

      Thanks Nicole. It was fun watching them puff up and not fun when the first couple did not. I thought for second I had failed.

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  • http://twitter.com/JenatPBandP PB and Peppers

    Wow, these look amazing! I love tortilla’s and I never had a puffy one! Great recipe!! I’m booking marking this recipe too! It seems my bucket list is getting longer. :)

    • http://www.sustainabledad.com/ Chris Baccus

      Yes so many new recipes to add to all of our bucket lists.

  • http://twitter.com/littleredkitchn Susan P.

    Gorgeous! Perfectly puffed and I bet seriously delicious.

    • http://www.sustainabledad.com/ Chris Baccus

      They were better than I thought, especially for a first attempt.

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  • Tara

    Those would be fantastic, crispy and divine!

    • http://www.sustainabledad.com/ Chris Baccus

      Thanks Tara. They really did have a great crispiness!

  • http://twitter.com/ssunithi Sunithi Selvaraj, RD

    Whoa ! looks pretty gourmet & yumm. My whole family loves tacos, but I think these may be a little too fancy for me to attempt. Good job :)

    • http://www.sustainabledad.com/ Chris Baccus

      I’ve seen what you cook. This is novice hour for you ;)

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  • http://profiles.google.com/lizzy.do Lizzy Do

    Wow, I’ve never seen a puffy taco before! They look outstanding…and I know my family would go for them! Great bucket list idea!

    • http://www.sustainabledad.com/ Chris Baccus

      Thanks Lizzy. Let me know what you think once you get around to trying it out. It’s really quite easy.

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  • Shannon @VillageGirlBlog

    Oh do these look good! I love a good tortilla. This makes me miss Texas.

    • http://www.sustainabledad.com/ Chris Baccus

      I love California since it is my home state, but the two years I lived in Texas really made an impression. Especially when it comes to food.

  • http://twitter.com/reneedobbs Renee Dobbs

    Where have puffy tacos been all my life? I haven’t seen these before. Wow. Crispy and crunchy goodness. I have certainly missed out on a good thing.

    • http://www.sustainabledad.com/ Chris Baccus

      Neither I had until last year when I kept hearing about them from people who lived or visited San Antonio. Definitely a good thing.

  • http://twitter.com/HezziD Hezzi-Ds Books&Cooks

    Those puffy taco shells look amazing! I love crunchy tacos!

    • http://www.sustainabledad.com/ Chris Baccus

      Thanks. So much better than store-bought hard shells :)

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  • Susan Pridmore

    How fun! I’ve never seen puffy tacos, and will definitely try this the next time I make tacos. GREAT idea!!

    • http://www.sustainabledad.com/ Chris Baccus

      It was a new concept to me too until a couple years ago.

  • http://twitter.com/NinjaBaking Ninja Baker & Baking

    Very yummy looking tacos, Chris. Bravo!

    • http://www.sustainabledad.com/ Chris Baccus

      A bravo from a Ninja is the best way to start the New Year!

  • Megan Wood

    Nice one hris! I have wanted to try a puffy taco ever since seeing it on the Food Network Challenge w/ Bobby Flay a while back. Now I can try to make these at home! I was excited to hear that you are good friends with Kelly Olexa!

    • http://www.sustainabledad.com/ Chris Baccus

      Kelly is such a great person. Definitely try these puffy tacos. They were fantastic and easier than they sound.

  • Renee @ Tortillas and Honey

    These look AMAZING! These are actually a lot easier than I thought they would be. These are now on my own “bucket list” and can’t wait to try it! Thanks!

    • http://www.sustainabledad.com/ Chris Baccus

      You’re welcome. The bucket list I never had got really long after this week’s SundaySupper theme.

  • Nancy

    Wow, this is truly a labour of love to make the tortilla from scratch and then to fry them up. These look delicious! I love Mexican food but rarely make it at home. That needs to be a 2013 foodie resolution for me!

    • http://www.sustainabledad.com/ Chris Baccus

      It was pretty easy. I was a bit worried about homemade tortillas after a few earlier failures last year.

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  • http://twitter.com/CupcakeKaleChip Cupcakes&KaleChips

    These look like they are some effort, but they also look fun to make and eat.

    • http://www.sustainabledad.com/ Chris Baccus

      You definitely have to make your own tortillas but it’s a lot easier than it sounds and this recipe, I’ve tried a few others that failed, really works nicely.

  • http://twitter.com/wallet_appetite Laura Hunter

    Funny when we were in San Antonio we were told her ‘had to eat puffy tacos’. What were were given was a greasy mess that was so awful we scooped out the filling and put it into fresh tortillas. I am more of a street taco girl. But your version actually looks better then what we were served.

    • http://www.sustainabledad.com/ Chris Baccus

      Just like anything there are good and bad versions. I have the hardest time finding good Polish Pierogi at restaurants. This version wasn’t that hard to do and it turned out great, even for me and like you I love a simple street taco. Just give me some corn tortillas, al pastor, chopped onions, cilantro, a lime and hot sauce and I’m in taco heaven.

  • http://twitter.com/HipFoodieMom1 Alice Choi

    Wow! I love these puffy tacos!!! that’s so cool how you made them!!! LOVE!

    • http://www.sustainabledad.com/ Chris Baccus

      Thanks Alice.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cindy.kerschner Cindy Kerschner

    I never saw a puffy taco! Really cool Chris!

    • http://www.sustainabledad.com/ Chris Baccus

      Thanks Cindy. If it wasn’t for living in Texas for a couple years I may have never heard of them either.

  • http://twitter.com/Dinnersdishes Dinnersdishesdessert

    I have heard of puffy tacos, but never actually tried them before! These look amazing!

    • http://www.sustainabledad.com/ Chris Baccus

      Thanks. They honestly were amazing and I’m a tough judge of tacos.

  • Sarah

    I am so jealous yours turned out puffy. I couldn’t get the dough consistancy correct! I need to retry my puffy tacos with your recipe!

    • http://www.sustainabledad.com/ Chris Baccus

      Thanks. The tortilla recipe and especially the type of masa you use is very important as you know. Let me know if this version works. Just remember you’ll have a few early duds, similar to making pancakes where the first few don’t turnout perfect.

  • http://twitter.com/LovelyPantry Lyn

    These tortillas look so interesting. Thanks for introducing them to me! That tortilla press facinates me…I have a thing for gadgets lol