I’m happy to have Tio Wally (long-time Me So Hungry reader) aboard to send in his eating adventures from across America. Here he is at Perla Tapatia in San Antonio, Texas.
Greetings from San Antonio, Texas!
N 29° 29.004’ W 098° 23.503’ Elev. 738 ft.
The SS Me So Hungry sailed into San Antonio to deliver 20+ tons of various margarine concoctions, like Shedd’s Spread Country Crock®, to H•E•B. I like to think we helped oil the toast of the citizens of San Antonio. Sort of grease their buns, if you will.
H•E•B is a chain of supermarkets in Texas and northern Mexico. It’s named after Howard E. Butt, youngest son of Florence Butt, who opened the C.C. Butt Grocery Store on the ground floor of her family home in Kerrville, Texas in 1905. Now a 315-store chain, its parent company is H.E. Butt Grocery Company.
But that’s not what’s important. What’s important is that by calling its stores H•E•B it has denied the (mostly male) youths of Texas and northern Mexico the opportunity for innumerable titters, guffaws and jokes, and successfully quashed the advent of an unknowable number of possible euphemisms. They could’ve named it Butt Market — but NO!
Across the street from its distribution center was the Perla Tapatia Mexican Restaurant. I was starving by the time I got there and had been looking forward to breakfast for hours. But when I looked at the menu my heart sank — I couldn’t find my favorite Mexican breakfast anywhere on the menu.
I want Huevos con (eggs with) Napoles, I told the waitress. Without blinking she asked, “And what to drink?” Where is it on the menu, I asked. “It’s not.” Okay. So I ordered it with a Melon (cantaloupe) Aguas Frescas.
Napoles, also called Napolitanos, is one interesting vegetable. The closest vegetable it can be compared to flavor-wise is green beans, but it sometimes can also have a decidedly okra-esque slimy quality to it, depending on how it’s used. The reason is that Napoles is cactus, specifically Napol Cactus.
Nopal Cactus is that broad-leaved (technically the leaf or pad is called a cladode) cactus also called Prickly Pear. Nopales (also called Napolitanos) are usually harvested just as the cladode is about to develop thorns. The older cladodes are still edible, just more dangerous.
Mexicans eat Nopales a number of different ways, but most commonly either in scrambled eggs or simply as a salad. The Prickly Pear (tuna in Spanish) of the Nopal is also edible. I haven’t eaten one since I was a kid and can’t remember what they taste like. I do remember them being vicious because of the glochids, little hair-like spines that get into your skin, hurt like hell, and are impossible to remove.
Needless to say my Huevos con Nopales were just what the skipper ordered. It came with Refritos (refried beans) and homemade flour tortillas; there simply isn’t anything better than homemade tortillas. They also served it with a Salsa Verde which was really good and had a nice heat to it. I’m not usually a fan of green salsas as I’m not into tomatillos. It’s too citrus-y for me. This stuff was tasty though, and obviously homemade.
Even though it was the pulp-less variety from a mix, the Melon Aguas Frescas was very refreshing. Plus, I got a free refill! I’ve never figured out why but most Mexican restaurants give free refills yet others don’t. Total cost for my soul-satisfying not-listed-on-the-menu breakfast was $5.93.
By the time I left at about 11:30 a.m., the place was packed — always a good sign. I’m really looking forward to trying some of their other offerings the next time I deliver industrially processed corn squeezins to H.E. Butt.
And so we roll.
Perla Tapatia, 5102 Rittiman Rd., San Antonio, Texas 210.662.2919
Tio Wally pilots the 75-foot, 40-ton(max) land yacht SS Me So Hungry. He reports on road food from around the country whenever parking and InterTube connections permit.