For decades, Manuel’s has been revered by the locals in Port Isabel and South Padre Island as the shrine of great and authentic Mexican food. We visited the establishment on a Sunday between breakfast and lunch, which are its peak hours. Luckily, it only took 15 minutes to be seated. After receiving the menu and some of the best coffee I’ve had in years, I was graciously granted permission by the owner to visit the kitchen and watch firsthand how Manuel’s iconic ‘Blanket Size’ flour tortillas were prepared.
Coached by the owner himself, we decided on a barbacoa flour tortilla taco (burrito), a bowl of menudo and the famous “Con Todo” Burrito, which was recently voted as one of the best tacos (burritos) in the RGV by a prestigious Texas magazine.
The barbacoa was tender and moist, as it should be. The tortilla was absolutely perfect and the Menudo was hot and spicy. For the not so brave, know that this is an acquired taste, a near religious experience. First timers, don’t ask what’s in it. Finally, the Con Todo (“with everything”) fajitas, beans, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, etc. were wrapped on a soft and moist giant flour tortilla and smothered in enchilada sauce with cheese. In all, it was great and tasty food.
The service was great and the restaurant ambiance is a mix between a hole-in-the-wall and “local hangout” establishment that gives Manuel’s it’s own personality: chatty, cozy and friendly.
One more thing if you are planning to visit Manuel’s at or around peak hours note that most likely there will be a decent wait time before you get seated. Sorry folks, but great food takes time!