Best Salsa Club

Best of SA 2013: 4/24/2013
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Food & Drink

Mouthwatering Finds from a Southside Culinary Adventure

Photo: Jessica Elizarraras, License: N/A

Jessica Elizarraras

Keeping it puro on the South Side

Stop numero dos was a well-worth-it excursion down highway 90 to Tellez Tamales & Barbacoa off South General McMullen. I’d heard whispers of Tellez, which has a satellite location in Leon Valley, for the better part of two years. As recently as 2013, the tamal factory was voted second best in the Current’s annual Best Of list.

“I found this place, and when I told my old co-workers about it, I pronounced it ‘teles,’” Heath laughed. Non-Spanish speakers, learn from this gringo’s mistake: It’s pronounced ‘teyez.’

Set up as a cafeteria-style taco place, Tellez has a very matter-of-fact feel to it. I suppose you’d have to if you had tamal-hungry San Antonians lining up at midnight on Christmas Eve to pick up orders. (“I had never heard of tamales at Christmas until we moved here,” Heath said.) With 30 years in the business, the process has turned into a science. I understood the mass appeal the second I bit into the spicy pork tamales.

My barbacoa taco (I went the “all-meat” route, as the other option sounded bit too Bizarre Foods for 7 a.m.) was tender and hefty. A zippy green salsa helped tie it all together. Lunch plates are available daily along with menudo, but remember, Tellez closes promptly at 2 p.m.

While downing self-serve coffee out of plain Styrofoam cups, Heath suggested looking to technology to get out of dining ruts.

“Sometimes what you can do is as simple as getting an app like UrbanSpoon which locks into a particular location,” Heath said.

While eating and exploring go hand-in-hand for Heath, he also weighs ambience and history when deciding whether to return to a restaurant, adding that “what makes it most fun is the atmosphere, if the place has a story, who owns it.”

Turns out you’re digesting more than just sturdy puffy tacos when you venture outside your bubble.

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