Pass the tortillas. As of September 18, Texas Monthly will have a taco editor on staff. José R. Ralat, a Dallas-based writer, is joining us to cover all things taco, from reviews and profiles to trends and Tex-Mex traditions. Ralat is one of five recent additions to the editorial staff and the tenth full-time new hire in six months.
Ralat’s addition reflects our continuing commitment to covering Texas’s unique and outstanding culinary landscape. In 2013, we became the first magazine to appoint a barbecue editor, Daniel Vaughn, who’s been energetically covering our thriving smoked-meat scene ever since. As taco editor, Ralat will be a regular presence on texasmonthly.com as well as in print.
“José is one of the foremost experts on tacos in the state and the country,” says Texas Monthly executive editor Kathy Blackwell, who recruited Ralat after long admiring his work. “We are thrilled to have him join our growing editorial team, and to share with our readers his wealth of knowledge about the amazing variety of foods that can be tucked into a tortilla.”
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Ralat began writing about tacos professionally a decade ago for the Dallas Observer and soon launched a website, the nationally renowned Taco Trail blog, through which he explored hundreds of taquerias, trucks, stalls, and restaurants. He has written for national and regional media outlets and most recently served as food and drink editor for Cowboys & Indians magazine. He also cofounded and curated the Taco Libre taco and music festival in Dallas.
Ralat has contributed to Texas Monthly’s food coverage for several years, including our December 2015 issue cover story, “The 120 Tacos You Must Eat Before You Die.”
In April 2020, the University of Texas Press will publish Ralat’s book, American Tacos: A History and Guide, which is the first national survey of regional tacos in the United States. Ralat lives in Dallas with his wife, their son, and their two dogs, Beans and Cheese.
We’re also excited to announce four other recent hires:
Cat Cardenas joined us as associate editor on September 1. She grew up reading TM in her hometown of San Antonio and started here as an intern three years ago. After graduating from UT last year, Cardenas says, she “scared my parents and professors by declining a couple of job offers to try and freelance instead, hoping to eventually break into TM that way.” It worked! Cardenas has reported for us on freedom colonies, has written moving personal essays, and, of course, always has something to say about the Spurs.
Leif Reigstad also joined us as associate editor on September 1. He started working for TM as a freelance contributor in 2016 and became a writer-at-large in 2018, writing about everything from Hurricane Harvey to a fantasy world in which Gregg Popovich is president. Reigstad has ridden through the streets of Laredo at night, chasing crime scenes with Lagordiloca, and recently chronicled the dark saga of Joe Exotic for both print and web.
Anna Walsh will join Texas Monthly as our new managing editor starting on September 23. Walsh comes to us from the Washington Post, where she was multiplatform editor for the Post’s vast and growing opinion section. In that role, she fact-checked, copyedited, and wrote headlines for some of the roughly four thousand words of opinionating each day. Walsh earlier served as managing editor of the weekly Baltimore City Paper.
Amal Ahmed will join our fact-checking department as an assistant editor on October 15. A former Texas Monthly intern, Ahmed is finishing up a fellowship with the Texas Observer. Originally from Dallas, she earned a journalism degree from Northwestern and is particularly interested in climate and environmental issues.
These hires are in addition to the five previously announced this summer.