Coming Out in College, A Survival Guide

Coming Out in College, A Survival Guide

News: Ah, college! Whether you’re new to a local campus this semester or you’ve been before, there’s something about the teeming... By Richard Farias 9/3/2014
What Do You Get A 1-Year-Old NDO? Enforcement

What Do You Get A 1-Year-Old NDO? Enforcement

News: This week marks a year since the San Antonio City Council amended its 20-year-old non-discrimination ordinance to include gender identity, gender orientation... By Mark Reagan 9/3/2014
4 Downtown Dive Bars to Embarrass Yourself In

4 Downtown Dive Bars to Embarrass Yourself In

City Guide 2014: In the last few years, San Antonio has made great strides when it comes to its mixology doings. Many good (and some great!) cocktail bars have been springing... By Tim Hennessey 2/24/2014
Free Things to Do: Kid-friendly

Free Things to Do: Kid-friendly

Free Guide: It’s almost summer, which means that your government-subsidized free daycare (aka public school) goes on hiatus thanks to an archaic allegiance to a rural agriculture economic system that hasn’t been in play for decades. What to do with the wee ones whining 5/21/2014
Beaches Be Trippin\': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Beaches Be Trippin': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Arts & Culture: Let’s face it, most of us Lone Stars view the Texas coast as a poor man’s Waikiki. Hell, maybe just a poor man’s Panama Beach — only to be used... By Callie Enlow 7/10/2013

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

Follow us on Instagram @sacurrent

Print Email

Food & Drink

Martinez Barbacoa & Tamales

Photo: Scott Andrews, License: N/A

Scott Andrews

Charro beans, menudo, salsa, tamales, and barbaco.

In Britain, "the local" is the neighborhood pub that you know can be relied on; here you might have an ice house or local bar that delivers the same comfort. But for many families, that reassurance is provided on a weekly basis with a trip to the favorite barbacoa shop. Like many establishments that specialize in this traditional fare, the Martínez store on lower Fredericksburg Road is family run (13 years), and closed most days of the week. But while many places only open early Saturday and Sunday, they celebrate a three-day weekend, adding Friday to the mix.

Once made from whole beef heads cooked overnight in a coal-lined pit, Texas barbacoa is a variant on pit-cooked meats held as tradition throughout Mexico and the Caribbean. Acknowledged as the inspiration for barbecue, sheep and goat are the meats of choice further south, while a pork dish — cochinita pibil — is a favorite in the Yucatán Peninsula.

Martínez, like most (all?) commercial establishments in town, uses beef cheeks instead of a whole head. They forego digging a hole in the kitchen, but the process is still slow. The cheeks are steamed for hours, rendering the meat soft; spices are added in the process. But as is traditional, sauces are only added after purchase by the customer.

Though the usual assortment of tacos can be had for immediate gratification, and carnitas, Mexican pastries, along with a half-dozen other specialties are available, we decided to try the gamut of weekend fare to go. Our order filled a not-small box with a pound-plus of "all-meat" barbacoa, a dozen pork tamales, a tub each of menudo and charro beans, and a dozen each of corn and flour tortillas. I know it's tradition, but we passed on the huge bottle of Big Red, and were rewarded with an extra quarter-pound of barbacoa in compensation. An avocado rounded out the order. Asked what "all meat" meant, we were told that slabs of fat were separated from the lean before cooking. "Regular" barbacoa is cooked along with the fat, adding flavor, we're told, and the extra grease drained off after cooking.

We found the meat flavorful, and unlike experiences at some other places, not overly greasy at all. The beans must have been cooked long; the result was a soup with beans so soft, many had disappeared in the broth. But we liked it, indeed, much more than the common offering that sometimes seems like the canned variety —bland. The tacos were low on masa, heavy on pork, not a bad ratio, the masa not dry, but the meat perhaps could have used some more time. My opinion, not shared by my companions, but I'm sticking to it.

I greeted the menudo with trepidation, hearing that Martínez uses regular tripe instead of the soft honeycomb variety I prefer. Some restaurant experiences in town had been unpleasant, providing an over-toothsome bit to chew on. But no problems here they cooked our batch to butter, delivered in a red sauce that didn't disappoint. And our verdict is: overall, Martínez is well worth another visit. As the deluxe version didn't exceed in fat (in our finger-licking estimation) we might risk the notorious regular barbacoa next time, at least in a taco.

Martínez Barbacoa & Tamales

798 Fredericksburg
(210) 734-6621
Best Bets barbacoa, tamales, menudo, tacos
Hours 6 am-2 pm Fri-Sun
Prices $

Recently in Food & Drink
We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus