In a food truck just minutes from Lady Bird Lake, co-owners David Martinez and Leo Mendoza are paying homage to their Mexican roots.
Story by Andrea Ocanas
Photos by Christiana Sullivan
The childhood friends met in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico through a group of mutual friends. “We have a very tight-knit group of friends from Juarez and El Paso,” Martinez says. “We used to do pretty much everything together.”
Before starting their business in Austin, Martinez and Mendoza spent some years apart. Mendoza moved to Las Vegas for culinary school while Moreno stayed in El Paso, but the two never lost touch. It was Mendoza's dream, to start a food business of his own. “When we reconnected with this vision, it was very big and very broad,” Martinez says. “And I told [Mendoza], ‘What if we start with something a little bit smaller?’”
The idea to start small led to talk about food trucks and finding a way to pay homage to the Mexican food they grew up with.
Mendoza mentioned his recent craving for a churro while taking a break from brainstorming one weekend. The friends wondered where they could buy churros in Austin. “So that’s when it clicked for us,” Martinez says. “That’s exactly what we were looking for.”
As Martinez and Mendoza began to build their business, they decided that they wanted to try to make everything from scratch for the sake of authenticity. “The top secret here, the secret sauce to Churro Co., is the dough,” Martinez says with pride. “The dough is the most elaborate part of our process in making churros.”
Their homemade churro dough is made in very small batches that take three hours to make and at least 24 hours to rise. Limited space within the food truck sets limits for how big a batch Martinez and Mendoza can make. "Number one, we don’t have space in the food truck," Martinez says. "And number two, we don’t want to get really big really fast where our product quality suffers.”
As a whole, Martinez says he believes he and Mendoza made the right choice in pursuing a new angle on Mexican street food here in Austin. “I see a lot of people paying really good homage to different Mexican foods, starting from the taco all the way to mole and things like that, very creative stuff,” Martinez says of the Austin community.
Martinez appreciates the diversity and acceptance of new ideas among Austinites. He believes that Churro Co. has been successful in part because of the open-minded Austin community.
The broad-mindedness of locals combined with original churro recipes has allowed Martinez and Mendoza to put Churro Co. on the map while celebrating their Mexican heritage. “We wanted to pay homage to the Mexican food that we grew up with,” Martinez says. “And I feel that Austin is the right place for us.”