Only a few miles from the Mexico border sits this family-run tortilla factory that’s been churning out fresh corn tortillas since 1973. Most of the tortillas they make—up to 1,000 per day—are sold to other local restaurants, but they also serve fresh Mexican dishes in house as well, like the Picadillo Tostada. Ground beef is cooked with tomatoes, jalapenos, green beans and a mix of spices before it’s added to a crisp tortilla along with beans and a house-made chile con queso. The tostada is then topped with cheese and fresh lettuce for an added crunch.
After meeting at El Paso’s culinary school, the chef-owners of this international joint decided to open a place downtown serving up the dishes they grew up with, like pupusas from El Salvador. These arepa-like breads are made from fine ground masa and are and stuffed with house-made Salvadorian chicharron, a spiced ground pork. Three come in a serving, but you won’t want to stop there: “I could have 500 of these,” Guy said.
The incredible flavors in this barbecue joint’s meats come from their specialty smoker, which runs on 100% oak wood fire. In addition to traditional barbecue cuts like brisket, they’re making serious sausages they call the Texas Hot Gut. Beef and pork are ground together with a house-made spice paste before being piped into natural casings. The links are then cold smoked for four hours to give them the perfect texture. “No dainty little sausage here, that’s meaty,” Guy said.
When owner Edgar Delfin had trouble finding great-tasting vegan options in Texas, he created his own. Everything on the menu of this taco truck is 100% plant-based. Guy loved the Milanese Torta: Delfin makes his own seitan steak—a plant protein made from wheat gluten—which he then coats in panko and deep fries. The sandwich comes together on torta bread by stacking a layer of black beans, the fried seitan patty, cabbage and fresh tomatoes, and is topped with avocado crema and vegan mayo. Even as a meat lover, Guy was impressed: “You get such great texture in that seitan,” he said.
After managing a restaurant for 29 years, Eshi Henry decided to open a place of her own so she could bring authentic Persian food to Texas. Her kabobs are made on a special machine dedicated to shaping spiced meats. “The machine is scary, but it makes a bomb kabob,” Guy said. Don't miss the Beef Koobideh: seasoned beef kabobs served with crispy Persian rice (called tadig) and a shallot-yogurt sauce.
Pieous is known for their killer pastrami sandwiches. The meat is cured for 20 days, smoked and then piled high on house-made sour dough bread. “I’ll take three of those to go,” said Guy. He was also floored by the caramel rolls which were made with a labor-intensive buttery croissant dough. “That is what every cinnamon roll wants to be,” he said.
This rock-and-roll bar serves up brunch and a chill atmosphere all day long. Try the Meatloaf Sandwich made with a unique layer of crispy Parmesan and horseradish sauce. For the adventurous there’s the Monte Bisco, their take on the Monte Cristo, made with house-made biscuits dusted with powdered sugar, sweet tea-brined turkey, bologna, blackberry-thyme jam and aerated Swiss cheese sauce. “It’s a beacon of funk ... but it’s delicious,” said Guy.
This barbecue joint is making incredible sandwiches in a 90s, hip hop atmosphere. Here Guy finds the very first rib sandwich in the history of DDD. The McDowell is made with their deboned smoked ribs, their Soul-Glo sauce, pickles and onions. “The angels in Flavortown are crying,” said Guy.
Chef and owner Tony Avila and co-owner Axel Beverido have brought all the best bites from an authentic taco truck to a strip mall in Austin. Guy called their Taco Yucateco, with braised pork, black beans, pickled onions and bittersweet onions, the “real deal.”
After teaching for 25 years, Chef Iris Ornelas followed her passion and opened a restaurant that celebrated her Puerto Rican heritage. Her Caribbean Nachos are made with crispy fried plantains, instead of chips and are topped with roast pork, beans, cheese and chili sauce. Also, try their unique Chuleta Kan-Kan which is an extremely large fried pork chop with the rib attached. Guy had never seen anything like it.
Dignowity Meats is what happens when an East Coast boy falls in love with barbecue but misses his classic deli sandwiches. Chef Andrew Samia merges these two into his Burnt End Melt. Guy called the combo of hickory smoked prime angus brisket, mac and cheese, sliced pear and cheddar cheese, “a lethal weapon.” “You’d have to register this in Flavortown,” he mused.
Patrons head to Ma Harper’s Creole Kitchen for some of the most-authentic New Orleans cuisine outside of New Orleans. Alice Martinez "Ma Harper", now in her 80s, got into the restaurant business after retiring from the nearby air force base. She learned to cook by feeding her 15 siblings while growing up in New Orleans.
Diners head to Wrigleyville for a legit taste of Chicago in San Antonio. Chef Demetrios Tingas, aka Jimmy, spent 41 years in Chicago and brought his hometown staples with him when he moved south. “That’s as close as it is to the original,” Guy said between bites of the Famous Italian Beef.
Chef Gustavo Plache and Norah Saleh, a husband and wife team from Argentina, are churning out their signature “fat tummy” empanadas in San Antonio. These extra-large hot dough pockets are filled with all kinds of savory and sweet ingredients. “You’re the example of the America story,” said Guy. “That’s why we do Triple-D.”
For a passport to Thailand in Texas head to Jack Nuchjasem’s CrushCraft. Chef Nuchjasem is channeling the flavors he loved growing up near Bangkok into his authentic dishes. “That’s one of the best curries I have ever had,” Guy said after tasting the Green Thai Curry.