A legendary takeout joint in far South Texas, where the state dips her toes into Mexico, Vera's sticks to the old border traditions for a truly one-of-kind barbacoa. While the definition of barbacoa tends to shift depending on where you stand, in Texas it generally means cow's head slow-cooked over coals in the ground – or, these days, steamed or roasted in an oven. As Vaughn tells it: "When I say this is the only commercially available barbacoa in Texas that's still cooked in the ground, I mean it literally – it's the only one." Pitmaster Mando Vera cooks whole cow heads over mesquite coals overnight in a brick-lined subterranean pit, yielding meat that's juicy without being wet, unlike the steamed variety. Vaughn is direct about the best way to enjoy this endangered species: "Throw some on a fresh tortilla with a dash of house-made hot sauce."
Credit: Nicholas McWhirter
Powered By ZergNet
Sign up to receive the Men’s Journal newsletter and special offers from MJ and its marketing partners.
Off the Grid With the Ultimate Globe Trotter
Plus: Inside Football's Big Data Revolution
ON NEWSSTANDS NOW