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‘Texas Monthly’ Has Appointed Its First Taco Editor

New recruit José R. Ralat is bringing back the magazine’s 120 best tacos of the state list

A man with dark short hair and a moustache wearing a blue button-up short over a white shirt standing in front of an orange and light gray wall
José R. Ralat
Texas Monthly [Official]
Nadia Chaudhury is the editor of Eater Austin covering food and pop culture, as well as a photographer, writer, and frequent panel moderator and podcast guest.

Texas Monthly hired its first-ever taco editor with Taco Trail writer José R. Ralat, who will explore the state’s Tex-Mex and Mexican food scenes starting this month.

Why the taco? It’s “both a vessel and a cultural touchstone,” Ralat said. “Although I consider it Mexico’s gift to the world, it is very much integrated into Texas’s DNA.”

Ralat continued, “If you want my definition of a taco, it is a food reflective and representational of a time and place.”

In the Dallas-based writer’s new role, Ralat will write about, well, tacos. “The job is really about how everything eventually makes its way into the tortilla,” he explained to Eater. So a big part of the job will be “covering Texas-Mexican foods and foodways,” such as the people histories behind the food, as well as specific items like even concha ice cream sandwiches.

Ralat will start off reviewing and picking tacos of the week and month, which will lead into the revival of the publication’s massive 120 best tacos of the state list, aiming to publish sometime in 2020 (he helped contribute to that package too).

Ralat is excited about re-exploring El Paso, where his wife’s parents are from, as well as the Rio Grande Valley, since it “is essential to the story of Mexican food in Texas,” he explained. His personal favorite tacos are chile relleno tacos, as well as bean and cheese tacos.

Ralat began writing about tacos for the Dallas Observer in 2010. He also started a website to do the same on his own, Taco Trail. He also co-founded Taco Libre, a taco and music festival in Dallas. He has written about tacos and the such for other publications, including Eater Dallas and Eater (where he wrote about Kansas City tacos). Right before joining Texas Monthly, he was Cowboys & Indians’s food and drink editor. Next up, he’s publishing a book, American Tacos: A History and Guide, next April, which overs regional tacos throughout the country.

Ralat’s role is much like barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn, who was hired in 2013, to cover the smoked meats of Texas.