We celebrate Hispanic Heritage month from mid-September to mid-October, but let us think of those who came to the United States from Mexico in search of a better life and by doing so improved our own lives. The list I have compiled includes three of my favorite restaurants in Weslaco that share standards inspired by Mexican hospitality. What standards could these be? someone might ask, and the first thing to name would be the professionalism of the wait staff. We are talking folks, mostly male and Mexican immigrants, who make the service industry a lifetime career. These men are proud of their jobs and skilled, for it takes but a glance in their direction to capture their attention. Never getting handed the receipt prior to requesting it, and feeling like every meal is a special occasion are features valued in Mexican hospitality. These places are destinations within themselves. It is not only about the food, but the ambiance and that experience of being in the Rio Grande Valley.
Arturo’s Bar and Grill. Anyone who grew up in this border region remembers Arturo’s of Nuevo Progreso, Mexico. It can surely be considered a local institution founded by Mr. Enrique Garza in 1950, and now managed by his son Gilberto Garza on the US side of the border since 2008. In the interior of Mexico, most restaurants are not decorated with piñatas and strands of papel picado but have refined settings like the décor bestowed by Arturo’s of Weslaco. Headwaiters in black and white uniform, white table linens, and ceramic china complete the scene. No disposable anything in here and the prices will not break your bank account. Arturo’s is ranked as the #2 restaurant in Weslaco and surrounding area by TripAdvisor. “Unlike franchise owners, we don’t depend on the success of other locations or ride on the reputation of a nationally recognized brand. We must strive for the very best and make it work. From food quality to service Mr. Garza demands the best,” said Manager Daniela Gatica. Arturo’s offers a full bar and is open for lunch and dinner and features live music at a small stage on some nights.
Chef’s Corner Café: Chef Roberto Torres is well- known around Weslaco for his top-notch food and catering services. The café boasts a contemporary casual setting and an international menu. A bit hard to find, in a location adjacent to Knapp Medical Center, it is well worth the trip. For catering, Chef Roberto serves the entire Valley. My favorites at the café are the salad and soup bar and the grilled chicken avocado pepper. Lunch specials vary each day and people can read about them on the café’s Facebook page. A native of San Luis Potosi Mexico, Chef Roberto has lived in Weslaco for 30 years. He worked at the Tower Club in McAllen, Knapp Medical Center and SODEXO, a quality of life service company, before opening the Chef’s Corner Café in 2016. He values the support of his family including his daughter Alejandra Gonzalez, a dental assistant who is responsible of social media promotion and administrative tasks. “I try to offer something different and I am always looking for better ways to serve and satisfy our customers,” said Chef Roberto. Chef’s Corner Café is open for breakfast and lunch and might just be Weslaco’s best-kept secret, not yet reviewed by TripAdvisor, but not for long, for I plan to post my review today.
Nana’s Taqueria: Weslaco’s culinary inventory has an amazing success story. When down on his luck and with barely enough money to feed his family of six, Alfredo Trevino went outside one day to barbecue some chicken. From the factory across the street came a man asking if Trevino could sell him a grilled chicken plate. That event triggered the idea of starting a small restaurant, but without resources, the idea met many challenges. Trevino is a civic engineer from Rio Bravo, Mexico who migrated to the United States in search of a better life. He believed this new venture bestowed a great opportunity. After many struggles, Trevino opened the doors to a simple non-airconditioned place he named Nana’s after his youngest daughter Mariana Nayeli in January of 2010. Fast forward to 2017 and the place is now a beautiful destination thanks to Trevino’s older daughter Roxanna Itzel who studied architecture and is currently a graduate student at Texas A&M. The décor was inspired by the family’s favorite vacation spot; San Miguel de Allende. It combines Spanish architecture with indigenous accents representing Mexico’s cultural heritage. The potted plants, fountains and painted murals welcome numerous visitors each day. “I am grateful to God for my family and this business I consider an incredible gift,” Trevino stated. Nana’s is ranked #4 by TripAdvisor and was recently featured in the Austin American Statesman and Austin.eater.com.
Nana’s specialty is the Mexican style tacos made with avocado and cheese and bistek or fajita. The charro beans are savory and so are the homemade salsas from mild to super-hot. The menu also features tortas (Mexican style sandwiches) and appetizers such as Nachos and Panchos (Nachos with refried beans). Beer is served and local bands and mariachis perform at a small stage in the patio every night of the week except on Sundays when Nana’s closes at 5:00 p.m. Prices are affordable and service is at the table.
Through these three savory examples, we experience the positive side of immigration. The family values, the tradition of hard work and excellence in hospitality can only impact the country in a positive way. Without hesitation, these investors fulfilled their American dream, created jobs, impacted the Valley’s economy and made our lives much more… delicious.