SAN ANTONIO — He’s got all the signs of being authentically San Antonio: Born in the Alamo City. Attended Taft High School. But Leo Davila’s tacos don’t fit what one might call traditional.
Davila is a culinary instructor at the Art Institute of San Antonio. He’s also a graduate of the school. It’s where he started turning his desire to cook food into a career. Well, there was a brief stint in Houston where the school of hard knocks tossed him out of the frying pan and into the fire.
He opened a restaurant with his father.
“We knew nothing about food,” he said. “We knew nothing about culinary. We tried to open a restaurant in Houston—failed miserably.”
Now, Davila’s sister and her boyfriend make up his Catch the Wave team. The business’ name is Catch the Wave.
“That’s always a conversation starter,” he said. “Do we serve seafood? Are we a pool company?’
According to Davila, the name originates from those who cautioned him about missing his moment with his culinary skills.
“Literally, one morning I woke up, responded to five, 10 of my closest friends or family and said, 'I'll catch the wave,'" he said.
The name stuck. So, he took Catch the Wave on a food tour at farmer’s markets, festivals and various events hoping to generate a customer base. It worked, and they went on to participate in a trio major taco competitions in San Antonio this year. His food truck/trailer is expected to roll out in 2020.
Catch the Wave serves specialty tacos. Davila let his heritage drive his inspiration to create the tacos. He’s a mix of Mexican and Chinese. His tacos are a marriage – not a fusion – of notes from both cultures.
His team makes gluten-free blue corn tortillas on a cast iron press. Then, he stacks the ingredients in such a way the product looks like an edible Asian flower.
The customer favorite is a combination taco with smoked cream corn, hatch green picadillo, bell pepper pico, pickled red onions, avocado crema and a touch of salsa macha.
Neighborhood Eats was provided with a sample of his new level tacos starting with the simply delicious Char Siu pork belly taco. The pork belly is cured for 48 hours, topped with an Asian slaw which is whipped up with a dijonnaisse, avocado crema, salsa macha and toasted sesame seed.
Next, a tray with a smoked corn taco (Think corn in a cup on a tortilla), a hatch green chile taco and a roasted shredded tomato chicken taco. All are delicious! Neighborhood Eats leans toward the hatch green chile. But combining anything of the above with meat is just as good.
It’s easy to see why the Char Siu brisket Que is award winning. The taco comes with char siu, strawberry jam, Asian slaw, avocado crema, salsa macha, pickled onions and toasted sesame seed. ¡Que Rico!