If you’ve spent any time in South Texas or the Rio Grande Valley, you will either welcome this post with a “Finally!” or possibly a “ja ja ja!”
For what I am about to say is no secret to the folks who have driven through Harlingen and Brownsville, McAllen and Laredo. But when you first discover Laredo Taco Company for yourself, it’s a game changer.
There are Stripes gas stations clustered throughout Texas, with locations in Houston and even a couple as close as Bastrop and Elgin. But South Texas is the land of Stripes. And many of them are home to the Laredo Taco Company. Yes, Austin has its own gas stations with excellent taquerias tucked in the back. The one that first rushes to mind is Tierra Linda Taqueria in North Austin. But Laredo Taco Company locations aren’t in the back of Stripes gas stations, just beyond coolers of Jarritos sodas and Takis, they are right there up front. Right by the salsa bar. Yes, a salsa bar in a gas station. A good salsa bar. We’re talking red and green salsas, raw onions, escabeche, pico de gallo, cilantro. Whatever you need. (OK, so the red salsa ain’t all that great, but still.)
You can order a bean and cheese and a ham and egg for $2 at breakfast. Two breakfast tacos for $2. Now you know why people from the RGV scoff anytime they come to Austin and see our $3.75 breakfast tacos. The breakfast menu gives way to a lunch menu of fajitas, picadillo, asado de puerco tacos and much more. And the best part, you order them on flour tortillas made fresh in house that rival some of the best flour tortillas at taquerias in Austin. Want to know why people from the RGV don’t take Austin tacos seriously, they get better tortillas when they fill up their tanks than many of us get anytime of the year. Puffed, buttery, lightly toasted and dusted, with just the right amount of chew to them, it’s everything you want in a flour tortilla.
I first discovered Laredo Taco Company from taco aficionado and Laredo native Sammy “The House” Ramirez while touring South Texas on my taco tour. (Read about it here.) After drinks one night, while compiling my list of taco stops, he told me to make sure I stopped by Laredo Taco Company at Stripes to get one. I thought he was kidding, as I’d seen dozens of them on my trip. Sammy doesn’t kid about tacos.
Laredo Taco Company is now my new road-trip jam: If I’m in Port Aransas, I hit Laredo Taco Company on the way to Mustang Island (this is the Stripes at the south end of the island, reached via Corpus, not at the north. That Stripes doesn’t have an LTC, and is thus weak.) Going to the outlet mall in San Marcos? There’s a LTC on the right-hand side before you pass under I-35.) Once you come to know LTC, you won’t zip pass the sign if you’re hungry, and you won’t stop anywhere else for gas on your trips south of Austin. I don’t know the history of the stores or why we don’t have any in Austin. (For the record, the closest one to downtown Austin is in Kyle and the ones in Bastrop and Elgin or equidistant from downtown Austin.) But I do know that I’ve seen the light, and it illuminate a green-and-black sign that is now a road-trip taco beacon.
You can keep your Buc-ee’s, I’m riding with Stripes (as long as they have a Laredo Taco Company).
- 2016 Austin360 Dining Guide: Austin’s taco all-stars
- 2016 Austin360 Dining Guide: Best Mexican Food in Austin
- From 2016: Take a taco tour around Austin
- From the archives (2014):10 tasty tacos to try in Austin