December 2006 Issue

On the Cover

The Greatest Tacos Ever Sold

Sixty-three of them, to be exact: from picadillo in Dallas and brisket tinga in Houston to carne asada gringa in San Antonio and chorizo-and-jalapeño in McAllen. Be sure you don’t leave this earth without trying each and every one.


“You Don’t Want to Know What We Do After Dark”

The young, tattooed men who are members of the Southwest Cholos, La Primera, La Tercera Crips, Somos Pocos Pero Locos, Mara Salvatrucha, and other Houston gangs are vicious career criminals who regularly rob innocent people in some of the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods. They steal cars and break into businesses.


Eating A Dead Horse

Even if you’ve never dined on the delicious remains of a noble steed, you probably have an opinion on whether the state’s two slaughterhouses should remain open. Boone Pickens does. And Charlie Stenholm. And Bo Derek. Not to mention the many traders and “killer buyers” for whom business is business.


Spurs of the Moment

These practical accessories of the cowboy lifestyle are some of the world’s most-sought-after Western collectibles—and every pair has a story.

Pasó por Aquí

José Cisneros, the legendary illustrator of the Spanish Southwest, is 96, almost blind, and nearly deaf. And, of course, he has no plans to put down his pen.


Letter From Houston

Physician, Heal Thyself

When Sam Hassenbusch was diagnosed with a deadly form of brain cancer, the only saving grace was his own history of treating the very same affliction.


Book Review

The Amazing Faith of Texas

Even cynics can find inspiration in THE AMAZING FAITH OF TEXAS, a surprisingly affecting survey of fifty Texans and their beliefs from GSD&M ad agency honcho ROY SPENCE. With brief interviews by Mike Blair and telling portraits by Randal Ford, these microbiographies delve into the creeds of Baptists, Buddhists, Baha’is,

Music Review

The Legendary Prestige Quintet Sessions and Fearless Leader

Detractors of Dallas’s RED GARLAND disdained him as a “cocktail pianist” and claimed he made it into Miles Davis’s first classic quintet (from 1955 to 1957) only because of a stylistic similarity to Davis obsession Ahmad Jamal. Yet he proved the perfect accompanist for not just the legendary trumpeter but

Music Review

Nashville Rebel

Like his compatriot “outlaw” Willie Nelson, WAYLON JENNINGS had already done a lot of solid work in Music City before reaching his breaking point, one set off by an accumulation of road dates, divorces, unpaid bills, and pep pills. So NASHVILLE REBEL (RCA/Legacy), a beautifully annotated four-CD retrospective, is a

Music Review

Rockin’ Bones: 1950s Punk & Rockabilly

ROCKIN’ BONES: 1950S PUNK & ROCKABILLY (Rhino), a reverb-drenched four-CD set of blistering guitar abandon, establishes this Eisenhower-era crew of JDs as the original punk rockers. Assembled with the same fanaticism as Lenny Kaye’s Nuggets, 101 (!) tracks roll by, many rescued from undeserved obscurity. You’ve heard Texans Buddy Holly,

Music Review

The Complete Atlantic Sessions

The liner notes pin it down to a single moment: a 1972 George McGovern rally in Austin’s Zilker Park, when new-to-town country singer WILLIE NELSON found himself on the bill with a lot of hippie rock bands. Unintimidated, Nelson forged ahead with the show, and a movement was born. This

Book Review

Between Heaven and Texas

BETWEEN HEAVEN AND TEXAS is dazzling. In a collection of meticulous prints, WYMAN MEINZER (who was proclaimed official state photographer in 1997 by then-governor George W. Bush) captures the limitless permutations of the Lone Star sky, from the serenity of cottony cumulus puffs to the bruising purple of a stormy

Book Review

Weeping Mary

Black-and-white is more than the chosen medium in WEEPING MARY, a photo essay about the tiny Texas town with this unusual name by  Texas Monthly contributing photographer O. RUFUS LOVETT. It’s also the unmentioned divide embodied by a white lensman’s documenting of a poor and predominantly black community. Lovett’s fine

Book Review

La Vida Brinca

If simplicity can be the hallmark of genius, BILL WITTLIFF earns a gold seal for the sepia-toned photos in  La Vida Brinca (“Life Jumps”). The Austinite, who is probably better known as the screenwriter of Lonesome Dove and The Perfect Storm than as a photographer, has turned a decade-long fascination

Forest Whitaker

“What does it say about us as humans beings when we listen to leaders who lie to us and, as a result, thousands of people are killed?”


Pat's Pick

Central 214

I don’t know about you, but every time I go out to eat, I say a little prayer to the kitchen gods: “Oh please, oh please, oh please, let there be something fabulous on the menu tonight.” Usually, however, the kitchen gods are out having a smoke in the alley


Crab Cakes

1 pound fresh jumbo lump crab 1 cup mayo 2 tablespoons old bay 1/2 red pepper, roasted 1 teaspoon roasted garlic 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives salt and pepper to taste 2 ounces extra virgin olive oilNote: It is important to use the very

Books That Cook

Books That Cook

Organized by decade (1944—2000), this retro-styled cookbook created by the people at Texas Co-op Power magazine celebrates the combination of food and electricity. A preface written by Sandy Cohen, the curator of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum, explains that by the mid-forties, electricity had finally reached most homes

Web Exclusive

Freddy Boy

Friends, admirers, and Texas musicians such as Augie Meyers and Ray Benson say good-bye to music legend and San Benito’s favorite son, Freddy Fender, who died October 14, 2006.

Web Exclusive

The Good Doctor

Writer-at-large Jan Reid on interviewing neurosurgeon Sam Hassenbusch, who was diagnosed with the same kind of cancer he had been treating for years.

Web Exclusive

Horse Sense

Senior editor Karen Olsson talks about horse slaughter—watching the deed, talking to advocates, and writing about the contentious issue.


Around the State

Around the State

Jordan’s PickVictorian Christmas Train Ride PalestineTHERE YOU ARE, ALL BUNDLED UP, climbing aboard the Victorian Christmas Train Ride in East Texas with your loved ones. The antique locomotive picks up steam as you sip hot cider and warble, uninhibitedly, your favorite carols. With the verdant foliage of the Piney Woods

Editor's Letter

Now Serving

THERE’S A CONTROVERSIAL WAR GOING ON, the aftermath of an election to mop up, the stock market rising, the price of oil falling, famine, pestilence—and our December cover story is about tacos? You bet. For as long as there’s been a Texas Monthly, the very best service journalism has had

Roar of the Crowd

Walk This Way

I HAVE TO PROTEST your exclusion of what I consider one of the most magnificently beautiful areas of Texas from your “Take a Hike” article: the Panhandle [October 2006]. My father grew up in Vega, the county seat of Oldham County, 35 miles west of Amarillo. Anyone but a

Explore the Archive

See all issues
Magazine Latest