I feel extremely fortunate to know Reyna and Maritza Vazquez, sisters and owners of Veracruz All Natural. I met Reyna on a humid Sunday afternoon in September of 2013. I had just moved to Austin earlier that summer in July, and had immediately started my quest to find the best Mexican food in the capital city. I love Mexican food! I had done my research, made my list of destinations, and was methodically making my way around Austin on my delicious quest.
The day I met Reyna was not actually my first visit to the East Cesar Chavez taco truck. It was my fourth. I had visited a couple other Mexican restaurants and taco trucks in Austin, but once I found Veracruz All Natural in August I was hooked. It immediately became my Sunday afternoon ritual; go on a morning bike ride with the Austin Ridge Riders at Walnut Creek and exhaust myself in the extreme Texas heat, and reward myself with tacos and an agua fresca after the ride.
I had learned about Veracruz All Natural from a blog called Taco Journalism, authored by Mando Rayo, now author of two books about tacos in Austin and Texas. In his post he raved about the flavor and freshness of the food, and posted a video showing a young woman named Reyna Vazquez in the tiny kitchen of a food truck walking viewers through how she made a migas taco. The video hooked me; the migas taco looked incredibly delicious, the ingredients the chef was using were fresh, and the young woman chef was extremely confident in what she was doing and portrayed a sense of love for cooking and an eagerness to share her love with people.
Like I said, I was hooked, and Veracruz All Natural moved up my list to next destination. When I went for the first time in August I ordered that migas taco that made me drool in the video, and when I unwrapped it, it tasted and smelled how I had imagined. The woman at the window, Maritza, was kind and friendly, and I was excited to speak Spanish to her. I didn’t know she was an owner; but just a kind person who humored my gringo Spanish and helped me make up my anxious mind with the menu.
The next few times I visited, Maritza was there. I started to feel like a regular. I liked that feeling.
So, Sunday afternoon on September 8th was an anticipated regular visit to my favorite taco truck, but on this afternoon I spotted the young woman from the video I had seen on Mando’s blog. Maritza was at the window, like usual, and Reyna was in the back cooking. As I began to give my order, Reyna turned around, and I said, in so many words “I recognize you…I saw you in a video online cooking a migas taco and it made me want to come eat…” I realized shortly thereafter that what I said was not only lacking in eloquence, but could probably be taken as creepy. That was not my intention, I promise, and luckily Reyna did not take it that way either!
Reyna and Maritza are role models to me, and I consider myself blessed to know them. They are strong, talented, courageous women, and I am excited to have this space on the internet to tell you more stories about them, their culture, and their food.
This year is the 10th anniversary of Veracruz All Natural, and what Reyna and Maritza have accomplished over these 10 years is exceptional. It was in April of 2008 that Reyna asked her sister Maritza to be her business partner. Maritza already had a family to support, so going into business was risky as there was no guarantee they would be successful. They both kept their other jobs and worked nonstop to get their business going, often times taking turns sleeping on the trailer floor while the other sister attended customers in order to keep it open. Reyna puts it this way:
The place where I put the trailer for the first time on Cesar Chavez was a very hidden place, very small. We would stand there on the sidewalk with a sign so that we could get attention so that people would buy our fruit. Honestly it wasn’t a very good location because we were hidden in this corner, so when cars would drive by they would drive by too fast and they wouldn’t see us. It really wasn’t a good location, we sold very little. I think our highest sale in that location was maybe eighty dollars. All day from 7am that we opened to 9pm that we closed. It really was a lot of work in that location to gain customers because there wasn’t a lot of visibility.
It took a lot of hard work and sacrifice for these two sisters from Mexico to get to where they are today, so to celebrate we are throwing an Anniversary party on Sunday, August 26th at Radio Coffee and Beer from 6pm-12am. There will be food, drinks, live music and more! Please visit the link below for more details.