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.
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.
Then, the conversation turned to Tex-Mex.
Enchiladas in DC?
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.
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.
Read more inauguration coverage on KSAT.com: