San(ta)cos

Meals on Wheels/MAS Cultura Fundraiser

When: Tuesday, November 30 – Tuesday, December 14 

Where & What: Monetary donations can be made online via Inspire Austin. Look for posters at participating taquerias with a QR code to donate or click HERE. Physical donations can be brought to all participating taqueria locations.

Participating Taquerias

We are grateful for our taqueria friends that will be participating to help make this fundraiser a success. Look for posters and donation bins at Tacos by Samy Sazon, Paprika, Texsueno, La Sirena, Los Danzantes ATX, Las Alegres Comadres, Tacos Guerrero, and Vaquero Taquero.

About the local Nonprofits:

When Reyna and Maritza were just starting their business back in 2008 they had no money. It took them years to make a profit and Meals on Wheels provided them and their family food on a couple of occasions when things were particularly tough. This holiday season we want to help give back.

Reyna and Maritza also want to help out their Raza in need here in Austin this holiday season. To help, please bring winter hats, gloves and socks to participating taqueria locations or make monetary donations online via Inspire Austin. MAS Cultura will distribute donations to those in need.

About Inspire Austin

Inspire Austin was born out of a heartfelt desire between great friends to thank local businesses and nonprofits that have helped keep our community safe during the COVID-19 Pandemic. These friends knew how invaluable socially conscious businesses were to Austin’s identity and success. They sought to celebrate the best and brightest among us and inspire increased individual giving, volunteerism and social impact. We are honored to be listed among the local businesses that are a part of this effort. You can learn more about Inspire Austin at https://austin.inspire.gives.

Posada Celebration

When: Tuesday, December 14th, 6pm-10pm

Where: Veracruz All Natural E. Austin location

What: Las Posadas are traditional celebrations that begin in Mexico on December 12. Here in Austin we will celebrate with a special holiday menu including homemade tamales from La Ley (Reyna & Maritza’s mom), free Mexican hot chocolate and punch, and free alcoholic spirits. There will be fire pits, a live DJ set from Gabby Got It, and surprises from participating taquerias!

What We Expect in Return

by Ryan Myers

February 22nd tweet from @jrodleal, nine days into Austin’s historic winter storm, power outages, and water shortages:

“The chingonas at @veracruztacos have blown me away. They’ve provided 1000s of free meals to various community orgs and hospitals [Feb 16 – Feb 25], expecting absolutely nothing in return.”

Well, maybe only one expectation…

Many of you already know some of the history of Veracruz All Natural. My wife Reyna and her sister Maritza started the business in 2008 in a tiny trailer in East Austin selling snow cones and natural juices. They had both immigrated to Austin from Veracruz, Mexico a few years prior with their mother, Mom Reyna. It was the three single Latina women in a new country starting a new life, and the business was key to their fresh beginning.

They were poor in Mexico, living without running water, so everything in Austin felt extravagant to them, and the sacrifices they had to make to start their business and keep it running the first few years were nothing new. Both Reyna and Maritza worked full-time jobs apart from their new business, and would take turns sleeping on the floor of their food truck just so they could keep it open. Their mother cleaned houses. They were persistent, sometimes going months without power in their apartment because they couldn’t pay their bills, but they consistently kept the window to their food truck open.

Reyna and Maritza started Veracruz All Natural without any loans nor debt. From the food truck itself to all of the equipment inside, they bought everything with money from their own pockets. The sisters continue to live frugal lives today, understanding that excess doesn’t equal happiness, and that financial freedom allows greater opportunities for community outreach. As a husband and brother-in-law I could not be more proud of my wife Reyna and my sister-in-law Maritza for their accomplishments as businesswomen and their community philanthropy, and my pride only swelled further seeing how they both stepped up and helped those in need during our latest central Texas snowstorm.

Some may call their behavior rash. I call it intuitive. I call it initiative. We woke up that post-Valentine’s Day Monday morning to at least 6 inches of snow and came to find out that 5 of the 6 business locations were without power and/or water. Immediately Reyna and Maritza mobilized. Both Sunday in preparation of the storm, and Monday and Tuesday we spent a large portion of each day redistributing inventories from all of the locations to the one that still had power and water, The Line Hotel. Unplowed, icy roads made travel extremely dangerous. In preparation of the storm a team of 6 employees were already staying at the hotel starting Sunday, ready to open Monday morning, and by the end of the week that team grew to 12 employees, not only including both Reyna and Maritza, but Lydie (Director of Business & HR), Maritza’s daughter Lis and her husband Corey, and Mom Reyna.

The Line Hotel was filled to capacity, with no one able to leave because of the closure of the airport. The other food venues inside the Line were closed, so Veracruz All Natural was the only refuge for food for hotel guests, and became a refuge for 100’s of locals without power. By the end of Monday the team was exhausted. By midday Tuesday the team was even more drained and we knew we had to do something different, not only for the team’s health but also due to the possibility that many Austinites would continue to be without power and water for many days with another storm coming.

We decided to start handing out free food to Austin locals every afternoon, and soon after that sponsors started to contact us. The more we gave out, the more other organizations wanted to help. It was beautiful. It was the definition of community. The final tally of tacos handed out to the community was 4,650, not only given out at our Line Hotel location to locals in need, but also delivered to local hospitals, schools, community centers, and first responders.

We expect one thing in return, and that is a continuation of the same show of compassion towards our fellow humans even when we aren’t suffering through a disaster. To do this we must connect. We must connect with one another in meaningful ways. We must connect in empathic ways that allow us to see from other’s perspectives, that encourage us to let go of judgement, and that motivate us to be more compassionate. It is connection that fights racism, sexism, and other evils against humanity.

As a country we are continually haunted by our exploitative past, taking advantage of people and the earth for wealth, and whether we want to admit it or not it still permeates our society today. Dehumanization is an unfortunate societal norm as our search for convenience, property, and platform often overshadows our desire for real connection. Ironically, in a world where we are more connected through technology, we may be at our most disconnected state. We hide behind cyber anonymity in order comment, diatribe, review, and say things we would never say to someone in personal conversation, especially if we had taken the time to know that person’s lived experiences better.

We are so proud of how our local community came together in the wake of this recent disaster. There are so many selfless local heroes to thank. We are proud to be Austinites, and we believe Austin is a unique city that offers degrees of open-mindedness, tolerance, and kindness other metropolitans do not. We hope for connection. We hope for empathy. We hope for compassion. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to all of you, both organizations and customers, who donated to help us feed Austinites in need.

A Holiday Dinner for Local Musicians

On Tuesday, December 22nd, we’re hosting a free dinner for all you local musicians & workers in the industry here in Austin, TX. Live music is an integral part of Austin’s identity, and we know that many of you are struggling because of the pandemic.

Our food truck at 2505 Webberville Rd will open exclusively for local musicians & industry workers from 6-9pm on December 22nd. All city of Austin COVID-19 protocols, including social distancing, masks, & capacity caps will be enforced, & takeout will also be available. We have plenty of space at this location, & we will have seating & fire-pits spread out across the property for those that want to stay.

We have 2-stepped to live music at The White Horse , salsa danced to live music at The One to One Bar and Esquina Tango, brought in the New Year to live music at The Sahara Lounge, rocked out to live music at The Mohawk, Saxon Pub, Antone’s, Cheer Up Charlies, & The Continental Club to name only a few. We love & appreciate all of you who make Austin the Live Music Capital of the world. Come out on December 22nd & eat some tacos, on us.

When: Tuesday, December 22, 6-9pm
Where: Veracruz All Natural, 2505 Webberville Rd, Austin, TX 78702
Who: Local Music Industry in Austin
What: Free dinner & soft drinks
Why: To show our support and gratitude

La Familia

Doña Mari
Doña Mari Hernandez outside one of the food trucks on Webberville Rd.

Doña Mari Hernandez is one of the longest tenured employees at Veracruz All Natural. She started in 2013 at the 6th and Waller food truck location, now home to the East Austin Hotel and Sixth and Waller restaurant. Doña Mari recalls being in a park when she learned about Veracruz All Natural from a girl who recommended the business as a great place to work. If you have eaten a taco from the food truck on E. Cesar Chavez or at the new location on Webberville, chances are that Doña Mari cooked it for you!

Doña Mari has continued to work for Veracruz All Natural for the past seven years  because she loves to cook and believes the quality of food is very high. La Reyna taco is her favorite, and her favorite position to work in the trailer is in front of the grill. She works hard, and that is not only essential to the business, but it is also important to her as she supports her family as a single mother and sets an example to her kids.

Three of Doña Mari’s daughters have worked for Veracruz All natural over the years, so it really has been a family endeavor, which reflects the family values of the business, run by sisters Reyna and Maritza and prominently includes the sisters’ mother, La Ley, Doña Reyna, and Maritza’s daughter Lis. Originally from Santa Cruz de Juventino Rosas, Guanajuato, Doña Mari now considers Central Texas her home, and Veracruz All Natural her extended family.

Doña Mari is an optimistic woman. Even when work is hard, whether that be when tickets are piled up and customers are waiting, or when she is working over a hot grill when it is over 100 degrees outside, Doña Mari keeps perspective by dwelling on her love for cooking and her gratitude for working in a place that reflects her mentality of quality ingredients and delicious food. She says, “I’m not going to cook something that I won’t eat myself!”

Don’t Call It A Comeback

Starting on Monday, April 13, Veracruz All Natural will reopen 3 of our locations to the public! Our processes will be a little different, and our menus will be a little smaller, however we feel confident that we can serve all of our customers in a responsible way. We are also making our new Employee Health & Safety Regulations During a Time of Pandemic available on our website to be completely transparent with the public.

On March 19th we closed all of our locations to allow all our employees to home quarantine for 14 days. Although none of our employees showed any symptoms of having COVID-19, we felt this was the most responsible action to take to mitigate the spread of the virus. We also took these past few weeks to conduct a deep assessment of our health and safety procedures. Based on our assessment, and the assurance of knowing now that none of our employees are sick, we are ready to re-open in the following way.

We are opening 3 of our locations; our new East Austin location at 2505 Webberville Rd, our food truck at Radio Coffee & Beer, and our restaurant in Round Rock. Each location will be open daily, 8am-3pm. Employees working at these locations have committed to strict guidelines for their travel and activity outside of work, as well as our new work regulations.

For the time being, we will only be accepting online orders for pickup and takeout at all 3 open locations. Customers will go to our website, www.veracruzallnatural.com, to access the ordering portals. Our menu will be smaller, consisting of items with ingredients based on market availability through trusted providers. An email will be sent to customers once they have placed an order, notifying them of their pickup time.

At each location, a table will be set up outside where orders will be placed for customers to pick up. Customers will not come into contact with any employee, any food truck, nor will they step foot in our restaurant in Round Rock. Order pickup up will be completely contactless.

We are also making available Breakfast Taco Essential Kits, which are basically a bundle of ingredients, consisting of homemade corn tortillas, eggs, potatoes, produce,  and other ingredients that customers can purchase and take home to make breakfast tacos. We are really excited about this, and Chef Reyna will be posting instructional videos in the future.

We are excited to be reopening, and even though it is only 3 locations, a smaller menu, and takeout orders only, we are excited about the new systems we have put into place to do our best for the safety of both our employees and customers We are also excited to try new and creative things like the taco essentials kits.

We have included below our new added employee regulations in response to COVID-19.

New East Austin Location

We are now open at our new location in East Austin (2505 Webberville Rd), next to Fleet Coffee. We are so excited about our new lot, and we have been working hard to get it ready to share with all of you! Our menu is still small, but we will be adding new items in the next few weeks.

We have 2 of our trucks on Webberville Rd. First, our bus is dedicated to just food, and will eventually have the same menu as our North Austin brick and mortar! Second, we have a new trailer which is dedicated to drinks, including an expanded menu of fresh juices, smoothies, aguas frescas, and some new healthy snacks. This new trailer is branded Veracruz Juice Bar. Business hours for both trucks will be 7am – midnight, daily.

Our E. Cesar Chavez location is now closed. It is bittersweet. That place is dear to our hearts, and holds many important memories, but at the same time we are so excited to have our own property that we own, and a larger space to do more creative things with our business. We will be bringing that truck over to our new Webberville location to function as a to-go and online order truck. In addition, our good friends from Churro Co. will be with us on Webberville, starting on our soft opening.

Churro Co. is composed of childhood friend duo, Leo Mendoza & David Martinez, that originated from Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. It all started with a shared desire of paying homage to traditional Mexican street foods that they grew up with.  The idea was born while discussing what food reminded them of home; and “Churros!” was the answer. Using this as inspiration, the two gave the traditional Churro a twist and introduced it to Austin, Texas in 2014. Their love for food, combined with Austin, Texas’ exploratory spirit created the perfect incubator for this humble project fueled by passion and the desire to pay tribute to their roots.  We’d like to introduce you to Churro Co., we look forward to meeting you!

Churro Co>

We hope you will come see us soon at our new E. Austin location at 2505 Webberville Rd.

Guero Taco

Beck, one of our musical heroes, is headlining at Austin 360 this Friday, July 26th, and to celebrate we have decided to bring our customer favorite barbacoa taco to all of our Austin locations this Friday only, and rebrand it to the “Guero Taco” in his honor!

Barbacoa is a traditional dish from Mexico, and one of Chefs Reyna and Maritza’s specialties, consisting of meat from the head of the cow, including the tongue, slow cooked overnight, and served on a homemade tortilla with cilantro, onions, cabbage, radish, and a lime wedge. It is tender and flavorful, and we think an ideal match for Beck and his music.

We have even more good news. Beck has signed 5 of his Guero LPs for us to give away this Friday! We will have one LP at each of our Austin locations to raffle off, and one LP to raffle through our social media channels. Here’s the lowdown.

Austin Locations:

  • Come to one of our 4 Austin locations this Friday, July 26th, and with any food purchase enter your name and email address for a chance to win a signed Guero LP from Beck (one entry per person per location). Winners will be announced on Tuesday, July 31st on our social media channels so make sure to follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Social Media

  • On Friday, July 26th, we will make posts on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook with instructions on how to respond in order to be eligible for a signed Guero LP (and maybe some other free surprises!).

Ensuring our legacy in East Austin

2501 & 2505 Webberville Rd

We are excited to announce that we are now the proud owners of a commercial property in East Austin! On Tuesday, April 16th we closed on a property that neighbors Fleet Coffee on Webberville Road, across the street from The Cavalier. We love this location, and anticipate moving from E. Cesar Chavez sometime in 2020. We have been looking at properties for a few years now, making a few different offers along the way, and we couldn’t be happier with the final result of our pursuit.

It was never a matter of where we would buy a property; our hearts were always set on East Austin. We consider the Eastside the home of Veracruz All Natural, and even though we have been able to grow and expand across different Austin neighborhoods to the North and South, we always maintained a vision of owning our own property in the Eastside and having complete creative control of that space.

Our roots in East Austin go back to 2008, a time when the neighborhood was a lot different and food trucks were a lot fewer and far between. We first opened in front of a convenience store named El Aguacate, which is now a Quickie Pickie. Housing and rent were both a lot more affordable, creating a community in the Eastside perfect for an eclectic mix of people, including minorities, artists, restaurants, and local small businesses to name a few. Our family of employees is also rooted in the Hispanic culture of East Austin, and we are blessed to have that core of employees still with us today more than 10 years later.

Today, in 2019, East Austin is both the same place and a completely different place, if that makes any sense. It is not in any way our goal to bemoan East Austin’s growth. What scares us is the thought of East Austin, and even Austin in general, losing its identity, or it’s soul. Therefore, our goal as business owners is to hopefully do our part in not only maintaining Austin’s unique identity and soul, but retaining our own.

Our first instinct was to look for commercial real estate along E. Cesar Chavez, E. 6th, and E. 7th, as those are places where we have located our food trucks before. We learned a couple of things; there were plenty of opportunities to lease, a lot of those opportunities were very nice, brand new or under construction commercial spaces, however we struggled with feeling comfortable with how those new commercial spaces represented East Austin, and us. Options to buy consisted of very expensive small properties, or properties that were only available as a part of a purchase of multiple lots. Maintaining affordable food prices is very important to us, and we worried about how we might be able to do that given the prices we were seeing.

After a lot of research, property hunting, and multiple offers, it became obvious that these locations in East Austin were not going to work out. We then shifted our focus to looking at a spot that we felt could retain the East Austin identity we knew and was friendly to local business, and we set our sights on Webberville Rd. We already knew the neighborhood well. Fleet Coffee is one of our very favorite coffee shops in Austin, and we have spent plenty of time at both Gourmands and The Cavalier. There is a cool energy to the street, quaint and very accessible, and very local!

Looking into the future we are so excited about the new possibilities afforded to us as commercial property owners. It was always our goal to be our own bosses, and then it became our goal to be our own property owners. We have already started to think about what to do with our new space, and we want to hear from you as well. Specifically, we want to hear your ideas about what you would like us to change or add, as well as things that you want to make sure that we don’t change. One thing is for certain; Veracruz All Natural will continue to be a family owned and run business, representing our beliefs in quality authentic Mexican food and our love of our favorite city in the USA, Austin, Texas.

Las Posadas

Growing up in Veracruz, Mexico, the month of December was a very festive time of year for Reyna and Maritza. Not only was it a time of religious traditions, but a season surrounded by friends, family, and delicious foods and drinks. In Mexico, the holiday season includes several traditions, one of which we want to share with Austin this year. On December 21, the night of the winter solstice, we will celebrate the tradition of Las Posadas at Radio Coffee and Beer and we hope all of our family, friends, and customers will come enjoy a night of delicious treats, live music, and colorful decorations.

Las Posadas are traditionally celebrated in Mexico beginning on December 16 and ending on December 24; nine nights of traditions and parties representing the nine months of pregnancy of the Virgin Mary. The Spanish word posada translates to accommodation or lodging in English, alluding specifically to the Christian belief of the nativity. During each night of Las Posadas a group visits a home, or several homes. Two individuals in the group dress up as Mary and Joseph, and when the procession arrives on the doorstep they seek entrance, just as Mary and Joseph sought a place to give birth to Jesus in the nativity story. The residents of the home, representing inn-keepers, allow the procession to enter after singing songs, and once the procession has entered there is a celebration, which includes singing villancicos (Christmas carols), piñatas, and food.

Like many holidays we celebrate today, Las Posadas have their roots in more ancient traditions which have been merged together with Christian beliefs. In pre-Hispanic Mexico the native peoples celebrated two very important gods. On the winter solstice, Tonantzin Guadalupe, the mother of all gods, was celebrated, and continues to be celebrated today on December 12. Additionally, the sun god Huitzilopochtli was believed to be born during the month of December by the native peoples. As Spanish missionaries arrived in the Americas they used Las Posadas as a way to teach the native peoples the story of the birth of Jesus.

Today there are many parts to Las Posadas that have specific meanings. The poinsettia, a beautiful red flower native to Mexico, was called cuetlaxochitl in the pre-Hispanic period, and to the native peoples was a symbol of new life. They believed that fallen warriors returned as hummingbirds to drink the nectar of the poinsettia. The post-Hispanic belief is that the poinsettia was once a weed that turned into a flower suitable of a gift to the baby Jesus from a child. In Mexico the poinsettia is called la noche buena, or the good night, referring to Christmas Eve.

The tradition of the piñata also has its roots in Spanish proselytizing among the native peoples of America. It was a way for the missionaries to teach Christian beliefs in a non-literature way. The piñata represented Satan, adorned and decorated to deceive people, and holding within the treasures of the world. A traditional piñata hung during Las Posadas has seven points which represent the seven cardinal sins, and the stick used to break open the piñata represents the faith a Christian needs to overcome the temptations of Satan. Reyna and Maritza also tell me that the seven points on the pinata makes a star shape representing the star of Bethlehem which is believed by Christians to have led the wisemen to find Jesus.

There are a few traditional foods and drinks that are served during Las Posadas celebrations, two of which are ponche and buñuelos. Ponche is a hot drink made with seasonal fruits from Mexico, cooked with piloncillo (whole cane sugar) and spices including cinnamon, and commonly enjoyed with a shot of alcohol by adults. The buñuelo is a fried dough ball (also served in a disc shape) which is covered with piloncillo, cinnamon, and guava syrup.

So, we are taking some of our favorite posada traditions and making a night out of it, and although Las Posadas are a religious tradition, our festivities at Radio Coffee and Beer will be agnostastic as to allow all of our friends to enjoy our culture, no matter what your background. In addition to our normal food truck menu, we will be serving ponche and buñuelos, and a percentage of those sales will go to La Casa Marianella. Our decorations for the night will be beautiful poinsettias and piñatas, and our favorite local Latin band Cien Fuegos will be playing music for all to enjoy.

Visit our Facebook event page HERE for more party details.