Dystopian DC: Ex-Secret Service agent from SA talks inauguration security, tests Tex-Mex at ‘San Antonio Bar & Grill’

The La Prensa Texas team interviews St. Mary’s alum and former Secret Service agent Tony Chapa

President-elect Joe Biden (Vice President at the time of the photo, 2013) and Tony Chapa, a now-retired Secret Service agent from San Antonio. (La Prensa Texas)

Editor’s note: This content is published through a partnership between La Prensa Texas and KSAT.

A plate of enchiladas, a mural of the Alamo and several current and former San Antonians sitting around a table.

No, this isn’t a West Side Tex-Mex eatery. It’s the San Antonio Bar & Grill in Washington D.C. days ahead of 2021 Inauguration Day.

And the San Antonians sitting around the table are digital journalists from La Prensa Texas (partnering with KSAT) and Tony Chapa, a former assistant director of the U.S. Secret Service.

But the scene around DC is much different than any inauguration in history.

Roy Aguillon, a South Sider who attended the 2009 inauguration of President Barack Obama as a high school student at McCollum, describes the scene first-hand in his initial dispatch from the ground for KSAT.

“This place is a ghost town. Past inauguration weeks have featured a sea of people everywhere. They felt like parties. This feels... not like that. It’s dystopian in some ways, like the massive gates protecting large sums of buildings or all the windows and doors boarded up - everywhere! Business, houses, government buildings. It’s plywood country,” Aguillon wrote. “Then you’ve got the overwhelming power and presence of the reported 25,000 National Guard troops. They are truly everywhere! Enormous military vehicles blocked all but a couple of roads. The massive military border blocks off everything from the Capitol to the White House.

SEE MORE: Photos: How Washington D.C. is preparing for the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden

National Guard troops block traffic near the U.S. Capitol on January 19, 2021 in Washington, DC. Tens of thousands of National Guard troops were deployed as additional security for President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration following the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images) (2021 Getty Images)

The apocalyptic scene isn’t lost on Chapa, who now serves as the current executive director of the Hispanic American Police Command Officers Association.

Chapa’s organization condemned the insurrection and mourned the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who was killed during the siege.

Chapa, a graduate of St. Mary’s and former employee of the San Antonio Police Department, said intelligence gathered by federal agents before, during and after the deadly Jan. 6 pro-Trump siege indicates a potential major risk in DC in the days leading up to Biden’s inauguration.

“The intelligence tells us you need to go overboard (with police and military response),” Chapa said, adding that this situation has never happened before.

The people that live here are used to seeing protests every week, but nothing like this, Chapa said.

“Everyone is staying home,” he said.

In the wide-ranging interview, which you can watch below, Chapa discusses how he made it to DC from the Alamo City, what hoops he had to jump through to become a member of the Secret Service. Chapa, who retired in 2008 and now works in the private security industry, shared some of the most memorable stories from his time protecting presidents, first ladies, kings, queens and popes.

At the San Antonio Bar and Grill, Chapa talks about his life in San Antonio, how he became a member of the Secret Service and what he thinks about the 2021 Inauguration.

Then, the conversation turned to Tex-Mex.

Enchiladas in DC?

A plate of enchiladas at San Antonio Bar and Grill in Washington DC. (La Prensa Texas)

When contacted for a potential interview, Chapa agreed to meet the La Prensa Texas team at the San Antonio Bar and Grill, which features a prominent mural of the Alamo.

“I’ve been coming here since the first day it opened. I love it, I like the people here, the food is okay. It’s not San Antonio Tex-Mex, but it’s the closest we can come,” Chapa said. “There have never been this many people from San Antonio at this restaurant,” Chapa quipped.

Of course, the La Prensa Texas team was skeptical of Mexican food in the nation’s capital. So Clint Westwood, a West Sider from La Prensa Texas, and Chapa, filmed a taste test, and graded the entree on a San Antonio scale.

When asked if the restaurant is his “favorite” spot, Chapa responded San Antonio Bar and Grill is his “only spot.”

“I know it’s named San Antonio, but does it have San Antonio food?” Westwood asked.

At the San Antonio Bar and Grill in Washington D.C., Tony Chapa and Clint Westwood try cheese enchiladas.

Does DC Tex-Mex live up to South Texas standards? Would you try it? Let us know in the comments below.

More on La Prensa Texas

La Prensa Texas, the first and oldest English and Spanish newspaper in the state, sent a crew of five San Antonio natives with a passion for community and video content production: Roy Aguillon, Julia Aguillon, Natasha Gonzales, Clint Westwood, and Angel Contero.

Find them on social media at La Prensa Texas Facebook and Instagram or The Carpenter’s Apprentice Facebook and Instagram.

KSAT will amplify their coverage on KSAT.com, KSAT 12 and our free streaming and mobile news apps.

Clint Westwood, Natasha Gonzales, Roy Aguillon, Angel Contero and Julia Aguillon of La Prensa Texas. (La Prensa Texas)

Read more inauguration coverage on KSAT.com:

Where, when to watch President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration

Photos: How Washington D.C. is preparing for the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden

A look back: How McCollum HS students helped KSAT cover the 2009 inauguration of President Barack Obama

About the Author:

Kolten Parker is digital executive producer at KSAT. Previously, he worked at the San Antonio Express-News and Texas Observer.