Mesquite and Maple: A New Chapter

"Hang on, you've never had a breakfast taco before?"

"...No...should I have?"

That's how my first trip to Texas began. 

I'm a born and raised New Jerseyan. My childhood memories center around hot-out-of-the-oven delivery pizza, potato knishes, boloney made in-house at the Swiss Pork store, corned beef night and bagels. They share room with spare ribs in black bean sauce, dim sum almost every weekend, bags of green leafy vegetables, roast duck by the pound, Chinese bakery sponge cakes for birthdays, and fresh ginger lobster expertly prepared by my grandfather. 

The extent of my Mexican food experience (if you can even call it that) until well into college consisted of Taco Night, Taco Bell and a sit down "fancy" Mexican joint at the mall. My sisters and I were irrationally exuberant about Taco Night; we loved stuffing the hard shells with varying amounts of lettuce and cumin-flavored ground beef and roughly chopped Kraft singles (the only other cheese in the house was Polly-o String Cheese). The shells would inevitably fall apart and we'd scoop the resulting delicious orange-oil-stained mess up with our forks. We'd beg our parents for more Taco Nights. Alas, my mother liked variety and we'd end up with paella or shake n bake pork chops or ginger scallion chicken instead. 

By the first time I went to Texas with my now-husband, I had developed a fondness for a tiny Mexican place in a strip mall in Somerville, MA and Anna's Taqueria in Cambridge. The flavors and spice always won me over when I hit a food funk and I had had enough of boring old pasta, but it definitely took some effort and planning to seek out those tacos.

So it was almost shocking to me on my first trip to San Antonio to see how ubiquitous the breakfast taco is in Texas. Everywhere from the lowliest gas station to the ultra fancy artisanal coffee shop had them on the menu. It's part and parcel of what Texas is: a mash up of traditional Mexican elements like tortillas and spicy salsas with "American" breakfast combos like bacon and eggs.  I almost wanted to shout, "I get it! It can be both things and you don't have to choose!" There wasn't any hemming or hawing over what a breakfast taco was, or asking if it was "authentic Mexican food", you just ate it because it was freaking delicious. From that point on I wanted to know when we were getting breakfast tacos again. Tex Mex had won a place in my heart.
Fast forward eight years later. Wayne changed careers and worked his way up to basically running Bouchon Bakery's savory kitchen, I was working in tech. Over the years, we would kid offhandedly about a taco truck/business/whatever but nothing serious. Then both of us were ready for a break and we decided to travel. We met so many people who were doing projects centered around food, agriculture and sustainability. When we returned, we knew that we wanted to build and contribute in our own way, but we weren't sure about the specifics. 

We looked at some spaces for a neighborhood grocery project we were thinking about. One of them had exposed brick walls and floor-to-ceiling windows with some cozy nooks. Remembering our previous jokes, I said breakfast tacos would be perfect in that space. The next day we realized it wasn't a silly joke after all. This was something we had been circling for years and that it's a malleable form that we could pour our ideals into. And that's what turned into Lonestar Taco.

Breakfast tacos are at the intersection of all the things that I love about food. Breakfast is an under appreciated meal and one that, whenever I can, I try to savor; most of the time it's reduced to a hurried gulping of cereal and milk and coffee, but I find it so appealing to sit down with others and make it into a proper meal before starting the day. People can be so passionate about them, but there's no one right way to make a breakfast taco. Everyone has their own spin on it and that's OK! I like mine particularly spicy with the eggs just cooked with some crumbly chorizo, hold the cheese. 

We see food as a way of bringing people together because eating is so intertwined with memory and emotion. Celebrations are marked by joyous feasts and sorrowful mourning is often drowned in food. But everyday meals, like Taco Night with my family, can have just as much impact on our lives as those momentous occasions. Lonestar has currently been our way of expressing that, and we're ready to grow our circle a little bigger.

Looking back at the long road that we've taken with Lonestar, some of the most satisfying moments have come when people tell us, years later, that the best taco they've ever had was one of ours. It was an ordinary day at the market yet it stood out in their memories. With Mesquite and Maple we are creating an atmosphere where everyday moments like that can flourish and grow. Don't worry, the carnitas are not going away - if anything, Mesquite and Maple gives us a chance to incorporate Lonestar customer favorites with even more delicious dishes that we haven't been able to do up until now. 

We're grateful for the support of our family, friends and long-time customers who have been patiently waiting for us to be at a market more than once a week, because we wouldn't still be doing this without you! 

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