Thursday, April 24, 2008

Rest in Peace, Mrs. Barrios

Today in San Antonio, the body of Viola Barrios, 77, was found amidst the rubble of her burning house. Her 2006 Mercedes Benz was missing from her driveway, and the police suspect murder, with arson apparently used to cover the crime. Her killer(s) remain at large.

Viola Barrios migrated from Mexico to Texas as a child. Years later, as a young widow, she founded her first family restaurant "Los Barrios" in 1979 as a means to support her young family. The business has grown from a few tables located in a small boat house to two large and prospering family restaurants capable of catering events of all sizes and serving hundreds of customers daily. Public recognition was not important to Viola, although she received awards for inspiring women in business, and a scholarship for women was named in her honor by Les Dames d' Escoffier.

I used to speak with Mrs. Barrios whenever I'd visit her fantastic Mexican restaurant Los Barrios, located only a few miles from my house. She was always quick with a smile and a pat on the arm, just like somebody's little grandma.

Considering Los Barrios has been featured on the Food Network, Good Morning America, the BBC and many other television programs that showcase the best places to eat all over America. Mrs. Barrios remained modest, sweet natured and hard working.

Just last night, she worked at her restaurant manning the register until after 10 p.m. At age 77, she didn't have to work. She did it because she loved it.

I know probably none of you have dined at Los Barrios or ever met Mrs. Barrios, but I wanted to blog about her just in case anyone ever Googles her. I just want people to know she was loved and will be missed by thousands of us here in San Antonio.


bigsis said...

That's the saddest news I've heard in a long time. I used to see her at her restaurant ages ago and she was always so sweet.
To be enjoying the golden years and have this horrible thing happen is disgraceful. I hope they catch whoever did this and send them to Huntsville for a lethal cocktail.

Anonymous said...

What is wrong with our society? Who are these dipshits?

Anonymous said...

I am so sad to hear this. When I lived in San Antonio I somehow missed going to her restaurant, but as soon as I saw the news article I recognized the name from the show they did with Bobby Flay. She had a beautiful family and she was a lovely woman.

karenzipdrive said...

Texas law is a strange thing. While we may feel embarrassed at how quickly the justice system is to comdemn criminals to death, in the case of Mrs. Barrios's murderer, what other penalty would be more perfect?
I wish you all could be in San Antonio right now and watch the local news with me.
Even in the midst of Fiesta (San Antonio's answer to Mardi Gras) the city is slump shouldered and sad having lost such a sweet lady so tragically.
Last night on the news, her son gave the reporter a tour of the mansion he was building for his mom, right next door to her daughter Diana's place.
Nearly finished, the house was a magnificent Mediterranean style villa with high vaulted ceilings, a gorgeous swimming pool and everything a woman of Mrs. Barrios's stature deserved.

But the good news is, her murderer will be found and justice will be sure and swift. I hope to hell it's a jury trial, and that the scumbag's lawyer doesn't have the sense to ask for a change of venue.

Oh, and if you saw her cooking with Bobby Flay, the way she was on that show was exactly the way she was in real life.
This June she was going to be inducted into the Texas Restaurateurs' Hall of Fame.
When she heard the news she said, "I just wanted to make a contribution to San Antonio cuisine, one enchilada at a time."

karenzipdrive said...


Last night at around 2 a.m., San Antonio police officers located in an apartment complex parking lot the 2006 silver Mercedes Benz E350 that belonged to Mrs. Barrios.
They are said to be questioning a person of interest.

I'll keep everyone posted on the progress of the case, but more information and video can be found at

Distributorcap said...

this is so sad and tragic..... i dont know what to say

CLD said...

I just don't understand why thieves can't just steal something and be done with it. Why they had to murder her and then burn her home down is beyond me. Crimes are getting so damn violent lately.

Anonymous said...

I was with some of my powerful DA friends last night, they are pissed and the SA PD is pissed, the investigators are pissed. Whoever did this doesn't have a chance in HELL of getting away with it. I hope my top notch criminal prosecuter friend gets to try this case, she wants it, doesn't matter if there is a change of venue, last case she did out of town, the guy is in hell now, via the needle.

Karen Zipdrive said...

I know!
Mrs. Barrios was known for her incomparable philanthropy. She almost singlehandedly supported the tiny, impoverished Mexican village where she was born for decades.
I'm sure she would have given any criminal whatever he demanded without a struggle. She probably would have even cooked the motherfucker breakfast before he took off with her Benz.
It makes me think she knew the bastard, and he had to kill her because she could identify him.

Karen Zipdrive said...

I know precisely which ADA you are talking about (M.G) and I too hope DA Susan Reed hands the case over to her, if she doesn't take it for herself.
I'm already planning to call their office and see about getting press credentials so I can cover the trial.
The only light side of this tragedy is in knowing how incredibly pissed off the cops, the investigators and the DA's office are about it.
This is an opportunity for San Antonio to show the world just how swift and sure justice can be.
The murderer is already as good as dead.
I just wish they'd reinstate the firing squad for this crime. They could do it at the Alamodome and sell fucking tickets.

Karen Zipdrive said...

10:35 a.m. CST

San Antonio police made an arrest* at 9:30 this morning in the slaying of Mrs. Barrios.

More details as they become available.

*SAPD doesn't fuck around when it comes to scumbags who kill sweet little old ladies. A 24-hour time lapse between the crime and the arrest is pretty fucking efficient, huh?

Anonymous said...

Everyone, let's make a tribute to this beautiful woman. We can each make an instant online tribute at

karenzipdrive said...

Anon, that's a very sweet idea but I suspect the Texas Restaurant Association and her kids will be creating some sort of memorial tribute or even a trust for her., the local ABC affiliate's web site, also has a tribute page where her friends and customers have already started leaving messages.

I hope anyone who's interested will track down the video of Mrs. Barrios and her daughter Diana in a cooking showdown with Bobby Flay.
Even though Flay was going up against Diana in a puffy taco cooking contest, when Mrs. Barrios saw how lousy and uneven his tortillas were coming out, she went over to his station and helped him make prettier, more perfectly rounded ones.
She was a real fanatic about making perfect tortillas. It was her obsession, but she was always very humorous about it.