On Uvalde’s Day of the Dead, a Night to Remember
Todos Santos de la Ciudad
I was in my early twenties when I first tasted the Uvalde taco. There was no taco truck back then, but I often went to the famous taco stand on Avenue Oeste in Uvalde, a quaint little town in Tamaulipas where I was born and raised. The taco stand didn’t have a name, but I’d call a group of us over, and they’d all pile in and sit down. One young man stood up and asked me where I was from, and I said New York. He asked me how long I would be in Uvalde, and I said forever, so he told me he was from Texas and asked me to come visit him at his house in New York for a couple of days. Little did he know that I’d never leave Tamaulipas. That was when I realized that there would be no food more popular in Tamaulipas than the Uvalde taco, and so I made it a point to go to any place that carried it. There are only a few in the city, like El Bocadillo on Avenue Juárez, Chucho’s on the Plaza España, and La Calle Ocho, which was the first place I went to find tacos back in 2000. Today, La Calle Ocho is gone, but Chucho’s is still open, and it has survived.
The Uvalde taco was an invention of two men who lived in the area around it, but it took the inspiration from a food that was much more widespread. The two men who created it were the Mexican-American poet and journalist José Antonio Villarino, and the great Mexican anthropologist and intellectual José Vasconcelos. Villarino was born in the town in 1940, the same year that General Porfirio Diaz led the Texas Revolution, and he quickly became a leading figure in Uvalde’s intellectual and cultural life. Vasconcelos was born just three months later, in 1942, and together they did not have the same experiences, but Villarino was a poet and a journalist, and