Guns and Tacos

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Jimmie Rodgers – “Pistol Packin’ Papa”

“You can never take from me, my silver mounted gat.”

I thought Cypress Hill coined the term “gat” in the 90’s, but evidently it’s been around since the early 30’s. Listen to every word of this song, and the parallels to modern rap music will blow your mind. Enjoy!

Taco Trucks and Shiny Trucks

“Taco trucks are operated by immigrants for immigrants. This makes them a fascinating culinary phenomenon, first of all, because they’re serving some items no other venues offer, and second, because they challenge high-minded ideas about authenticity.” – Robb Walsh

When the first commercial for the first episode of The Great Food Truck Race aired, you could hear the collective sound of thousands of palms smacking foreheads across the nation.

Tyler Florence, really?

The food truck craze has run its course in LA and NYC, according to every major food-related publication, to the point where even stating that the truck frenzy has jumped the shark, is jumping the shark. But in the fair town of Houston, Texas, food truck mania just kicked into hyperspeed.

You’ve seen the shiny new food trucks around town. I’m guessing there have been at least two opening up every week in past months. Many offer top-notch cuisine, others miss the mark. They have clever names, they’re active on social media, some of them even have QR codes on their trucks. Phamily Bites, a great late-night Vietnamese truck, sells banh mi sandwiches of many varieties, including filet mignon and Chinese sausage. There’s a photobooth machine on the front of their truck, where patrons of the bars on Washington Avenue can pose and view their duckfaces the very next day on Phamily Bites’ Facebook page.

Newer bars such as Liberty Station, The Boneyard and Kung Fu Saloon have found a symbiotic relationship with food trucks. The trucks make good money, and the bars can keep their patrons from bailing to grab dinner.

Entrepreneurs outside of the restaurant industry have found creative ways to profit from the craze. A tumultuous food truck festival took place in May, and the most recent enterprise is the “H-Town Food Crawl”. I’m not sure why they call it a crawl, because the trucks are all in one place. Tickets are sold to the public for around $25 and for this price you can try samples from a handful of shiny trucks and get drink specials at a local bar.

You can even look forward to a book about these trucks. Houston author (and 29-95 contributor) Paul Galvani is currently working on a book titled, “Houston’s Top 100 Food Trucks”.

One may ask, who blazed the path for this shining armada of culinary warriors?

Mexicans, mostly.

The mobile eatery involves less financial risk than a brick and mortar restaurant, costs less, and can be a platform for restauranteurs who would like to “work their way up”, or prove their concept to financial institutions before investing in a restaurant. El Hidalguense, a Hidalgan restaurant on Long Point known for excellent cabrito and borrego, started as a truck that sold rotisserie chickens. 100% Taquito, a successful venture on the 59 feeder, started as a trailer in a Wal-Mart parking lot.

The side of a true taco truck does not look like the front of a Hannah Montana album. The menu is usually painted by hand. If they serve pork, there will likely be a handpainted Porky the Pig on the side. If they serve chicken, you may see a cartoon chicken, usually in a cowboy hat for some reason. Tacos usually go for around $1.50 each, and a great many taco trucks offer great tacos for as low as $1.00.

Despite the low price, you’ll find amazing food at these trucks. Houston area food fanatics and food critics know them very well. In fact, the Houston Chowhounds have held Taco Truck Crawls for years. (These are free of charge to all participants, by the way.)

Taco trucks (in the Houston metro) are held to the exact same hygienic and procedural standards as shiny trucks, but there is a disconnect in public perception. Average Joe will have no problem eating adventurous, non-familiar food from a shiny truck with a professionally designed menu, but will steer clear of the traditional taco truck, even with a significant price break.

The media definitely plays a role in this perception. While local television has a history of producing hatchet pieces on traditional taco trucks, it has no problem embracing the new wave, as shiny trucks are now regularly featured on morning shows and hired to provide food at city events and festivals. Sadly, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever see Tierra Caliente or El Mapache on Great Day Houston, even though the unheralded taco trucks outnumber shiny trucks by hundreds, if not thousands. They’re not shiny enough for these purposes. The true taco truck, the humble servant of the diverse world of mobile cuisine, does not entitle itself with misleading terms like “gourmet” or “chef-driven”.

“the modular”, a new and very promising truck on the scene, has a sense of humor about the way some food trucks tout their cuisine.

If you haven’t been out to a true taco truck, here are a few suggestions on different sides of town, in no particular order.


Taqueria Mi Jalisco

Berry and Fulton, North Houston

This was a popular spot on the Chowhound’s second Taco Truck Crawl, even though it was across the street from the massively popular Tacorrey truck. (The Tacorrey truck still exists, but hasn’t been set up at this location for a while.) You can find suadero and longaniza tacos here, as well as good tripas. The taquero is very friendly and speaks fluent English, and you’ll get chiles toreados– fresh, grill-charred jalapenos free with every taco plate.




Various locations,

Although this small chain of taco trucks is in a bit of trouble with the Department of Labor at the moment, there’s no denying that they serve some of the best tacos in town. They have a huge menu, but if you can’t make up your mind, you can never go wrong with their fajita tacos on corn tortillas.



620 Sheldon Road, Channelview

I’m not sure if this qualifies as a taco truck, as it never goes anywhere. It has a nice patio with big screen TVs on it, but it is technically on wheels. No Houston taco list is complete without it. Tacos al pastor is their specialty, and anyone that knows me also knows I will never shut up about it. It’s a bit of a drive, but Channelview is probably not as far away as you think. It’s best to visit Karancho’s on a weekend in nice weather, when the trompos are getting charred by hot coals while pineapple drizzles all over the bright red achiote-marinated pork like a daydream in a luchador’s siesta.


Taqueria Don Tin

Shepherd and 23rd Street, Heights

There are several taco trucks around town named Don Tin, but specifically I’m talking about the one in the north Heights in the Fiesta parking lot. Tacos are a buck here. Be sure to utilize the provided red salsa, and bring any Spanish knowledge you have- they don’t get many gabachos ordering food at this location. Something unique at Don Tin- you can order Tex-Mex- style “tacos dorados” here. They fry corn tortillas in a U shape on the spot, fill it with your meat of choice, and top it with white cotilla cheese. This is great for taco truck newcomers. It’s best to eat these at the truck, rather than taking them to go.


El Mapache (“The Raccoon”)

Gulfton and Renwick, Southwest Houston

You can eat from the taco truck in the parking lot of the convenient store, or you can sit down in the vibrantly decorated restaurant in the lot behind the store. You really can’t go wrong with the tacos here, and the salsa is excellent.


Veteran’s Memorial and Gears Rd.

Northwest Houston

Here’s a destination spot. Three or four trucks are in the same lot, with plenty of seating. A taco truck, a pupusa truck, a raspas (snow cone) truck, and a chicken truck with a grill in the back. For five bucks, you can buy knockoff DVDs for movies that are still in the theaters. Bring your own beer if you’d like, and bring your friends too.

Nobody knows how long taco trucks have been in Houston, but they've been here for a long, long time. Here's a photograph my friend Robb Walsh took in 1939.


Making Cold-Brewed Coffee at Home



































































The Kel-Tec KSG 14 + 1 Pump Bull-Pup Tactical Shotgun

Legally speaking, shotgun barrels have to be 18 inches or longer. If you saw off the barrel, they’re no longer legal. Bummer, right?

Kel-Tec, a manufacturer of really crappy plastic 380’s that constantly malfunction, came up with this amazing shotgun concept, borrowed from the South African Neostead 2000, but this one is specifically marketed for the US to help good guys shoot bad guys.

Here’s the idea: Instead of having the shotgun barrel in front or above the trigger, as most shotguns and rifles do,the barrels on this bad boy go all the way back to the stock. This way, you’ve got the same barrel length with a short, easy to manage shotgun that holds a capacity of 14 rounds (plus one in the pipe), in separate chambers. This way, you can hold two types of rounds, 7 in each chamber, which you can change out with a convenient, easy to reach switch.  Check it out.  (Thanks @mhark for the heads-up)


Connie’s Seafood Market, and a tribute to Valentina

When you pull into the parking lot of Connie’s Seafood, you’ll see an odd variety of vehicles. You might see a dropped Monte Carlo on dubs, a new Mercedes S500, and a Ram truck pinstriped with a pattern of Ram logos, parked next to one another. Blue collar families save their money to eat here as a special occasion, and white collars stop in as an escape from their sitcoms.

Bright primary colors and handpainted signs abound, the interior is like walking into a recently painted kindergarten, with an unparalleled selection of toy-releasing quarter machines.  If you’re there on a weekend, you’ll find an accordion player and guitarist making their rounds among the tables while you strive to avoid eye contact with them. Calling Connie’s “casual” would be an understatement- for some reason, a lot of moms are wearing sweatpants here at any given time.

When the waitress takes your drink order, choose a michelada. If you don’t care for micheladas, that’s because you’ve never had one from Connie’s. They’ll ask what kind of beer you want with it. Go with the cheapest beer they’ve got, because the beer you choose simply serves as a michelada vehicle. You will instantly understand the power and magnitude of this glorious beverage, and fervently wish that you could make these at home. Lucky for you, they recently started bottling this sauce, and they sell it behind the counter for five bucks if you specifically ask for it. You’re welcome.

You can order from the big menu, or you can walk up to the counter and choose a fresh fish from the ice underneath the glass. This can be really tricky if your Spanish is rough, but the helpful sign boards tell you how to order the fish in both languages. I’m a fan of the black drum, an inexpensive and  underrated fish (which they were out of on my last visit), but you can also choose from redfish, red snapper, or flounder. You can buy raw fish by the pound if you’d like to cook it at home, or tell them how you’d like it cooked: fried, grilled, pan-grilled “a la plancha”, steamed, or ranchero style. Translations for the different cooking methods are available on the signs above, but it can still be difficult for non-Spanish speakers to communicate to the waitress. If you’re solo, get the smallest fish they have. Be warned of the ranchero style- it is topped with a spicy mix of stewed tomatoes, garlic, jalapenos and probably serranos. It’s very spicy and tastes great on its own, but you won’t taste the fish at all. You can never go wrong with just frying up your fish. If you choose it “ala plancha” (on the grill), they season it well, and it works great with lime and the available Valentina sauce.

If you’re not familiar, Valentina is a mainstay at every serious taqueria in town. This dark, complex and incredibly inexpensive sauce (that is somehow always missing its lid), is the most underrated liquid substance in the Western hemisphere. It’s better than Sriracha. (Sriracha is incredibly popular, but it’s really just spicy red liquid garlic in a dope looking bottle.) There’s nothing wrong with garlic, but you can’t just make your food taste like pure garlic and say you’re improving the taste. Consider this Emiril Lagassi prick, who made his career taking pride in putting tons of garlic in everything, destroying potential relationships across the globe. Imagine the scores of guys and gals of all ages who attempted  to impress their dates with these Lagassi garlic recipes, who were then were grossed out by their own dates due to burpy garlic breath. Go Valentina or go home.

You can order a shrimp or octopus cocktail if you’d like.  They have ketchup in them. If I had a Delorean with a flux capacitor, my first mission would be to go back in time and bludgeon the idiot who came up with the idea of putting ketchup in seafood cocktails. If you’re seven years of age, and you’re at Red Lobster with your parents, it’s okay to dip your Kid’s Meal fried popcorn shrimp in ketchup, because you are seven.  If you agree with me on this, avoid the seafood cocktails that come in a glass, unless you are the type of person who enjoys the unfortunate marriage of shrimp and ketchup and probably Filet-o-Fish sandwiches, too.

Connie’s has a big variety of fried combo plates, and you’ll be happy with all of them. It’s a diverse menu- you can even order fried alligator gar, which is better than you might imagine. Fried catfish is a mainstay here, and you can’t go wrong with it. The fried stuffed crab here is solid too, as well as the shrimp fried rice. Big portions of fresh seafood here at good prices. This is also a great place to get Gulf oysters when they’re in season, and the combination of oysters and a cold michelada in a frosted bar mug will make you feel like Charlie Sheen on payday.  While you’re on this side of town, check out Canino’s market across the street (weekends only), El Bolillo bakery, and keep an eye out for the elusive Rio Verde taco truck.

Connie’s Seafood
2525 Airline Drive

G&T Pro Tip: Next time you want to cook up some pork chops, marinate them in a Ziploc with Valentina and a bit of honey.

Fun with WordFoto

Found a neat little app on my phone (WordFoto) that changes images to text.  I chose an image of Rosalino “Chalino” Sánchez packing a Colt 45. Seriously, this took about 30 seconds to do.



An interview with Ben Thompson: Badass of the Week

Maybe you’ve heard of Badass of the Week, maybe you haven’t. Either way, there’s this guy Ben Thompson that blogs about the baddest badasses in history, in a style that will make you laugh so hard you will drop kick a litter of newborn puppies just to get the grin off your face. The list is very diverse, and includes all types of historical characters, good and evil alike, from Harriet Tubman to The Predator.

He recently published a book titled Badass: A Relentless Onslaught of the Toughest Warlords, Vikings, Samurai, Pirates, Gunfighters, and Military Commanders to Ever Live. I enjoyed this book so much, I had no choice but to share it with you guys.

I had the opportunity to ask Ben a few questions, and he was nice enough to get back to me instead of sending ninja assassins to my house.

G&T: You’ve listed people dead and alive, male and female, ancient kings, pro wrestlers and General Zod from Superman II. Are there any minimum requirements for becoming a Badass of the Week?

BT: There are a lot of different types of badasses out there, but the main thing that unites a mad scientist badass like Nikola Tesla with an over-the-top face-wrecking badass like Leonidas is that neither of those guys put up with anyone else’s crap.  It doesn’t matter what you’re really trying to accomplish — world conquest, nuclear fission, jumping a motorcycle over the Grand Canyon, etc. — as long as you go totally balls-out after it and don’t let anything get in your way, that’s badass.


G&T: I once watched a Kung Fu movie where this guy would punch three holes in the forehead of his enemies with his fingertips. I think he lived in a cave full of ventilated human skulls. Is there any truth to this?

BT: There was a Japanese-Korean dude named Mas Oyama who spent most of his life living on a mountain hardening his fists by punching trees into firewood.  He would occasionally come down into town to kick the crap out of martial arts experts and kill bulls by punching them in the face.  If this guy can do that, I don’t see why someone wouldn’t be able to punch his fingers through your skull and use it as a bowling ball.


G&T: What is the true “Breakfast of Champions”?

BT: Wheaties, dusted with metal shavings taken from a decommissioned Soviet intercontinental ballistic missile and sprinkled with two scoops of 9mm ammunition.


G&T: Has a featured Badass,or the family of a featured Badass, ever asked you to take down or correct an entry on your site?

BT: I once wrote a story about a 70 year-old man named Gene Moe, who killed a Grizzly with his bare hands while it was mauling him to death.  Moe then crawled two miles to the car, drove himself to the hospital, and survived.  He emailed me to tell me that he didn’t like my take on his story — the real reason he’d won the fight was because God guided his fist into the bear’s skull, and since I didn’t talk about Jesus coming down and helping this guy kick the crap out of a rampaging Grizzly my story was inaccurate (he much preferred the 700 Club version, naturally).  I figured hey, this guy fistfought a bear and won, so I probably shouldn’t give him a hard time if he wants me to take my version of his story off my website.


G&T: Lee Marvin or Steve McQueen? Why?

BT: Can’t we have both?


G&T: How many swords do you own?

BT: I’ve got a set of samurai swords (the katana and wakizashi), an English longsword, a Confederate cavalry saber, and a letter-opener designed to look like Glamdring the Foe-Hammer.


G&T: Are there any authors that have influenced your writing style? I noticed you use a lot of long sentences and commas like you are Homer or something.

BT: Homer was epic poetry, though, and my rhyming and meter skills are really sub-par.  As far as history goes, I always loved Gibbon and Plutarch, because those guys told the true stories, but they didn’t have a problem telling you if they thought someone in particular was awesome or a total douchebag.  There was none of this middle-of-the-road, fake-objectivity crap.  If the guy sucked balls, they came right out and said it rather than trying to rationalize for him.

For more modern authors, I’m a huge fan of Will Cuppy’s “Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody”, as well as a book called “1066 And All That”.  I also love Douglas Adams, who was, of course, a genius, but not related to history in any appreciable way.


G&T: I understand if you hate this question, but I have to ask. Who is your favorite Badass?

BT: It’s impossible to pick a favorite, but when people talk to me about the whole Badass of the Week thing, the guy I like to point to is a guy named Wolf the Quarrelsome.  Wolf was an Irish barbarian who fought the Vikings, defeated them in combat, and then killed their leader by cutting the guy’s torso open with an axe, tying one end of his intestines to a tree, and then making the guy walk around the tree until he was dead.

Wolf only appears in like three lines in all of history, and he contributes very little to human history in any significant way, but this is a badass story, and it’s the sort of thing I love reading about.  Badass of the Week was designed to tell stories like that.


G&T: I have always wanted to cut down a giant redwood tree with a giant chainsaw. Is this natural?

BT: I think the uncontrollable urge to cut things apart with a chainsaw is something that’s deeply embedded into human DNA.  Anyone who claims otherwise is only denying their true nature.


Ben Thompson is also the author of Badass: The Birth of a Legend: Spine-Crushing Tales of the Most Merciless Gods, Monsters, Heroes, Villains, and Mythical Creatures Ever Envisioned. You can find him on Twitter as @Badassoftheweek.

Sample Page



Taco Scouting

When this website launched, the main idea was to build a map of all taco trucks (and gun ranges) in the Houston area (up there to your right). I knew it wouldn’t be easy, because there are just too many trucks to count.

The map has come a long way, but it’s still way behind. I’m not entirely sure how this happened, but the Google map shows that it has had 466,624 views since its creation in 09.

As much fun as it might be for one person to visit every single truck in the Houston metro, it’s just not possible. So I had this nifty idea.

We rounded up a few taco fanatics on Twitter, and chose a place to meet up. After mastering a plan of attack, we then split up into  different directions, writing down intersections and addresses to every taco truck around. While eating scores of tacos.We used the #tacoscout hash tag to stay connected on Twitter.

It was a blast. I didn’t count the trucks we added to the map, but it was somewhere in the area of 50 total. This, my friends, is how you fill out a taco map. Once we were stuffed with tacos, we met up at Liberty Station to knock off the trail dust.

So, we’re doing it again. I’m thinking Southeast side, Edgebrook area. If we put a bigger crew together this time, we can expand our reach and explore new taco frontiers. The more great eats we find, the better spots we’ll have for the next Houston Chowhounds Taco Truck Crawl.

If you’re interested, let’s meet up at Starbucks off 45, Sunday, July 10. at 11:30 AM.

11404 Gulf Freeway
Houston, TX 77075




Vegan Black Metal Chef

Thanks to Ben Thompson over at Badass of the Week for sharing this video on Twitter.

Caucasian Guide to the Chingo Bling Concert

If you’re not familiar with Chingo Bling, this is probably your first time to this site, and you are adept at sewing images of dolphins onto sweaters and hanging out at craft shops. You pay good money for cable television, and you choose to watch Housewives of Orange County on purpose. You pay your taxes well ahead of the deadline. You’d like to visit Cozumel sometime, but you’re afraid of Mexican cartels that will throw you in jail and call your relatives and charge them for a $300 toothbrush because you saw that on 60 Minutes in 1995.  Put down your BeDazzler.

Chances are, you are very much aware of Chingo Bling. Lucky for you,  you can simply buy your tickets for his April 8 show at the House of Blues– you don’t have to stalk him like I did a while back. Since his appearance at the Houston Chowhound’s Taco Truck Crawl, he’s taken on a new batch of foodie fans in this town, who will likely be attending the show. Here are a few helpful tips.

1. Don’t try too hard.

Sure, you’ve got an XXL airbrushed Selena shirt in the back of your closet. We all do. Leave it in the closet. Just be yourself, unless you are a shirt-tucker.

2. You don’t have to know all the words.

Don’t be the starry-eyed black and white teenybopper in the front row mouthing all the lyrics like it’s your first Elvis concert. You will not impress Chingo Bling, Roxxi Jane, or Lucky Luciano.

Fat Tony. Photo by Marco Torres

3. Get there early.

Other than the obvious big acts, there are several openers. One of these is Fat Tony, who puts on an explosive live show. He blew up Free Press Summerfest last year, as well as opening for Wu-Tang in their rare Houston appearance at Numbers.  Don’t be fashionably late to this one, or you’ll miss out.

4. Save a few bucks.

You can end up paying around $20 for parking around the House of Blues if you don’t know your way around. Catch a bus, ride a bike, or call Washington Wave unless you’ve got a good idea how parking works in the area. There’s not much of a beer selection, and the drinks are pricey. My solution? Get tanked before you go, or smuggle in your booze like a real vaquero.

Get your tickets here.

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