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Puffy Tacos in Austin?

I grew up in San Antonio and came to love the puffy tacos from Tico Milana (not sure if that's spelled correctly but it's been a long time...). They're soft, warm, puffy corn tacos that you can get with either chicken, beef or guacamole filling. They're not the fried crispy tacos that a few places around Austin serve.

Anyway know of a place in Austin that serves San Antonio style puffy tacos?

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  1. Vivo (next to El Chile on Manor) serves puffy tacos. Can't say if their San Antonio style. Many people seem to like them; I actually think they're kind of nasty.

    1 Reply
    1. re: tom in austin

      I've always kinda liked the puffy tacos at Vivo, although they've always been tempered by a good amount of their very strong frozen margaritas. Vivo's is the type of place I go with friends to have a good time but not for phenomenal ground breaking tex mex....sometimes you just want to enjoy a strong drink in a nice setting with some decent food. Puffy they are......the most delicious tex mex available in Austin? not really. But, again when served up with their margaritas....a nice meal that is far beyond some of the other "margarita locales" in Austin (i.e. Trudy's and the like).

    2. not soft. very tasty and puffy, but fried tortillas

      1. Hula Hut on Lake Austin Blvd has a puffy taco cult following.

        1. Angie's at 7th and I-35 has killer carnitas they serve in "puffy" tacos. the tortilla is not corn, but flour. also i think they put shredded american cheese on it. doesn't matter though, they are so good i want to cry.

          4 Replies
          1. re: yimay

            Angies carnitas tacos are delicious! I didn't realize that that's what people meant when they talked about puffy tacos. Mine have always come with slightly fried corn tortillas, though, not flour.

            1. re: Brian Lindauer

              Puffy tacos are made of corn masa, not flour, that puffs up when it's cooked. Like gorditas, puffy tacos are sometimes cooked on a comal (griddle) instead of being fried. The fried ones, however, are much, much better.

              Here's a link to a picture [I'm not vouching for the recipe]:


              1. re: MPH

                Those look tasty, but they aren't what they serve at Angie's.

            2. re: yimay

              Finally got to Angies today. First trip, tried to go for dinner - they aren't open for dinner. Second trip went for lunch on Tuesday - they aren't open on Tuesday. Went today and had the Carnita tacos with fresh corn tortillas. Outstanding! What did suprise me was the salsa. I like "Rip Your Face Off Hot" food. Their salsa was the hottest I've ever had!! Great stuff. I'll be back but why no steak tacos? Only beef, chicken and the carnitas.

            3. Update - I called Hula Hut (owned by Chuy's) and they don't serve puffy tacos or gorditas (the closest thing to puffy tacos I've found). I guess I'll have to keep searching ... thanks all for your replies.

              3 Replies
              1. re: RunLolaRun

                Did you give Vivo a try? I'm not a fan, but as I said, they definitely have puffy tacos.

                1. re: tom in austin

                  El Chile (right next to Vivo on Manor) has puffy tacos on their lunch menu, but not their dinner menu. A friend of mine who has since moved away really loved the food there so I ended up eating there several times. The food was good to very good, imo. A lot of people really like their salsa which is quite smoky. You might try them at lunch. I'm a pretty new 'hound, but I'd bet there's been past discussion of this place.

                  1. re: diva360

                    El Chilito, part of the El Chile empire, has puffy tacos with the picadillo filling. They're very good although I wish they were a bit greasier.

              2. I love Vivo. I get the special with one enchilada and one puffy taco. Owner Roger Diaz is a native of San Antonio who grew up in the restaurant business. I think (okay the booby paintings in the bar are a little bit over the top) his place is an awesome update to the overly greased TexMex that is so prevalent out there, while still maintaining its authenticity and not venturing into the HipMex or HealthMex categories. A conversation I heard just yesterday there:
                Female Patron to Waiter: Can you take this back and heat it up in the microwave for me? (referring to chile con queso that she must have had in front of her for 30 minutes)
                Waiter: Ma'am, we don't have a microwave
                Lady: What do you mean? You must have a microwave
                Waiter: We don't have a microwave, but I'll be glad to freshen up your queso.
                Lady: Oh, nevermind, this is just...ridiculous

                I know that Vivo is not for everybody, but if you don't return for any reason, please don't let it be that because of their committment to wholesomeness and quality, they have opted to not have a nuker!

                1. The ambiance and vibe at Vivo make me very sad. I'm sure not everyone will be as turned off by the Vivo vibe, but I'd strongly advise choosing the much classier El Chile when searching for puffy tacos on Manor Road. IMHO, your mileage may vary, caveat emptor, etc.

                  If all you are after is the taco, you can get one from the El Chilito window without dealing with the long waits at either El Chile or Vivo.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: cornbiterD

                    I also love Vivo. I think their chips have a good texture and taste and their salsa is smokey tasting and delicious. I also like lunch combo with the enchilada (beef with the ancho chile sauce mmmmm) and the puffy taco. I've tried El Chile several times and have found their salsa tastes burnt instead of smokey and have found nothing on their menu that I thought was particularly tasty. The service also has tended to be a bit slack. Alas, it appears their will always be a Vivo camp and a El Chile camp, so it appears best to try each and decide for yourself.

                    1. re: sighmesigh

                      Actually, I don't love *either* place, but fortunately there are many more options in town. Just maybe not for puffy tacos. I'm all for people finding their own versions of deliciousness, but there's no need to narrowly focus on these two "camps."

                      Recently I had some very good shrimp nachos at El Chile. To me their salsa tasted like its primary ingredient was blackened tomatoes, which explains its mildness. (This kind of salsa is very popular at certain types of restaurants.) Previously, I've enjoyed their enchiladas de mole rojo and their pescado entortillado.

                  2. skip vivo and go to el chilito...get the puffy taco with cochinita pibil, black beans, and rice for $3.73...go to vivo if you wanna chill on the patio with a margarita and spend a lot more money.

                    1. I think Vivo's puffy tacos are outstanding. Slightly greasy and usually hot as a pistol. Put a few forkfulls of their smoky salsa on top and enjoy. I really like the atmosphere in Vivo with the exception of when they have that damn DJ in the bar. I think the nudes are great and a fun conversation starter. Great patio too!

                      El Chilito is wonderful too, I probably eat their 5x more often than Vivo and 20x more often than El Chile. It's just an awesome little place to get a quick bite and I'm lucky enough to live a block away. El Chile is good, just too small, no bar (though they do serve alcohol) and it can be really noisy.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: woofdog

                        As long as you're in the hood.Roll on past El Chilito,the final outpost of bad food as you head east on Manor and hit Taqueria Alayna's for a chicken taco on homemade flour tortilla.Still hungry?Hit El Centenario for al pastor and RIGHTEOUS red salsa....finish the expedition at El Rinconsito a hundred metres away for outstanding Carne Molida and homemade tortillas[either corn or flour].West of Cherrywood/Chestnut=bad.East of Cherrywood/Chestnut=Good.

                        1. re: scrumptiouschef

                          I can't believe I've never been to El Centenario or El Rinconsito. Hopefully, they're open later than Taqueria Alayna's (Which closes in the early afternoon, used to be 2PM, but my roomie says they might be open til 5PM now).

                          I agree with the chicken taco rec, but want to add my own suggestion. Try the migas taco on flour. It's migas Texas style - eggs, corn tortilla strips, yellow cheese and a little pico fill the tortilla with more food than two tacos at most places. Sometimes they might be just a little dry, but the salsa (hot and flavorful) supplied with every order quickly takes care of that. It's always a toss-up between these two and the occasional Guisada every time I go to Alayna's

                          1. re: Alan Sudo

                            I went to a place today off 620 and 35 called Tio Dan Puffy Taco. Great stuff! It used to be called Tres Lindas IIRC. Great breakfast tacos, maybe give them a try for lunch tomorrow.

                            1. re: Chicago Wine Geek

                              Any puffy taco updates in Austin? Just saw the food network throwdown show on these and they look great but I'm heading to Austin not San Antonio.