The bone-in pork chop taco at Garcia’s Mexican Food doesn’t come with instructions, but it does come with a steak knife. That way, if you want to separate the meat from the bone before tackling the taco, you can. “A few people ask to debone it,” says John Garcia, co-owner of the San Antonio institution along with his brother, pitmaster Andrew (their family opened the restaurant in 1962). “I like chewing on the bone. That’s me. I’m a steak kind of guy.”
I agree. It’s better to just grab hold and go all in. But it does take some careful manipulating, such as turning the meat so that the bone rests against the bottom of the flour tortilla. The tortilla, made in house, is sturdy without being stiff. It’s also pleasantly dusty, like much of San Antonio’s flour tortillas, with a sparse coating of flour remaining from when it was rolled out on the kitchen surface.
Tender, with a bright tang from the lemon-pepper-based Garcia’s Barbecue Rub (sold at the restaurant), the pork chop taco is a newer addition to the menu, meaning it was added about twelve years ago, around the same time as the best-selling brisket taco. “Before that, it was pretty much Tex-Mex food—just enchiladas, tacos,” Garcia says over the phone. “I just cooked it at home…that’s how the brisket started too. [Andrew] started making brisket at home, and we started making the taco at home, and we thought, ‘Let’s just do this at the restaurant.’ And [the brisket taco] took off. Same with the pork chop. We just started making it with the tortillas.”
The brisket taco is by far the top seller; the pork chop taco and the carne guisada round out the three best-selling menu items.
The pork chop taco also become a San Antonio staple—available at taquerias and Mexican restaurants—across the city. It’s worthy of the stature. Every time I’ve eaten Garcia’s version, it’s been a fun, demanding taco, reminding me of how engaging a taco can and should be.