Food-wise, the menu will be the same as the original restaurant’s: the staple South Texas-style tacos and quesadillas — al pastor, bistec, tinga de pollo, nopales, rajas poblanes, moles — alongside rice, gaucamole, beans, chips, salsas, and a nopales salad. New is the expanded drinks menu, now with coffee, beers, cocktails, and wines.
For this new downtown location, Vaquero co-owners and brothers Miguel Cobos and Daniel Cobos took over the space previously housing restaurant and bar Waller Creek Pub House, which opened in 2015 and closed in 2020 due to the pandemic. The brothers oversaw the entire renovation process themselves. “We’re a family business that sees all aspects of building a business as a way to learn how to do things,” says Miguel Cobos. They worked on everything from building furniture to repairing a dysfunctional espresso machine to installing plumbing and electrical lines. “It’s been fun, stressful, and made us better-rounded individuals with minimal debt and no investors to have to respond to,” he says.
The downtown location excites the Coboses because of its address just off the bar-and-club-packed Sixth Street. “We aim to be that post-dance taquería where you show up for a taco at 3 a.m.,” says Miguel.
There are several ways to place orders at the downtown Vaquero, many of them contactless: a digital kiosk, web ordering, QR codes, and in-person. For dine-in service, there are both indoor and outdoor seats. For now, the hours are limited, open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily this week. There’s an opening party with live music on Saturday, September 18 from 5 to 10 p.m.
The North Campus restaurant — which Miguel notes they also built themselves — remains open. “We’re in this industry for the long run,” he tells Eater. Their next goal is to own property for their eventual third restaurant. “The moment we’re able to buy our piece of land and stop renting, we’re going for it. We’re building a business that will outlive us,” he says.
The Rio Grande Valley-raised brothers opened Vaquero in 2016 as a breakfast cart, which they turned into a food truck in 2017. They opened their first restaurant in 2019. It took them three tries to secure the downtown lease over ten months.