With roots in Mexico, barbacoa became a mainstay on South Texas ranches, where cowboys were hungry and cow heads were plentiful (Texans were expert at nose-to-tail eating long before it became trendy). Today, most commercial barbacoa is steamed or done in pressure cookers to comply with health codes. Vera’s time-honored method has been grandfathered in, and some suspect that local politicians simply couldn’t imagine life without their barbacoa tacos. The Vera family’s process calls for the heads to be tightly wrapped in foil and cooked for long hours in earthen pits over mesquite coals; their unpretentious place is the only restaurant in the state still doing it this way. You can get lengua(tongue), mixto (everything), or cachete (cheek, the leanest), all terrific tucked into a fresh corn tortilla along with Vera’s tangy avocado-jalapeño salsa.
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