By Samantha Garza | Guest Contributor
Mexican culture and Waco collaborated to bring local coffee Coffee and pastries from Lalo live. Better known as “that of Lalo,“The store brought Wacoans a little piece of Mexico – and others a little piece of home.
at Lalo is Waco’s first and only Mexican cafe serving traditional and authentic Mexican pastries and drinks. Located at 1500 Colcord Ave., Lalo’s is right next door to its sister business: a Mexican ice cream parlor called Helados La Azteca.
Lalo’s was established in Waco in 2020 by owner Eduardo “Eddy” Garcia. The name “Lalo’s” comes from the nickname commonly given to Garcia in Mexico. Garcia is originally from Los Angeles but moved to Waco when he was 8 years old. Having worked in the family business for a long time and growing up in the Hispanic culture, Garcia decided to open his first business with the help of his family in 2019. He first opened Helados La Azteca, then opened Lalo’s Coffee & Pastries a year later.
“For me, it’s more about getting my community — the Hispanic community — and the community in general to learn something new about Hispanic culture,” Garcia said. “Not only is Lalo a place where the Hispanic community calls home, but it’s also a place where people from different backgrounds come to experience and learn from a different culture.”
The drinks and pastries are part of what gives Lalo’s that Mexican feel, but it’s the environment itself that really completes the experience. Inside the café there are paintings, pictures, figurines, decorations and music that represent Mexico and its culture.
“Music and artwork bring pretty much what I had in Mexico here,” said barista Juan Salazar.
Salazar said the environment and the coffee brought back memories of home. Coffee, especially café de olla, brought back memories for Salazar of when he would visit his grandparents for Christmas in Durango, Mexico. He described Lalo’s as “more homemade and traditional to Mexican culture”.
“We’ve never really had coffee more in Mexican culture,” Salazar said.
Salazar said most cafes in town had the same “Waco vibe” and that Lalo brought more “culture and diversity into one place.”
Salazar has been working as a part-time barista at Lalo for almost a year now and describes the work environment as very laid back and friendly. He said one of his fondest memories was working with Garcia. With a landscaping business on the side, Salazar said he took a lot of inspiration from Garcia, 26, nicknamed “Eddy” by his colleagues.
“It’s been special to get guidance from him since he started at a young age,” Salazar said.
San Antonio graduate student and barista Matthew Templer had similar thoughts as to why Lalo’s was special and different from everything else in Waco.
“[Lalo’s] really provides a place for Hispanic people and in Waco — a place to not feel so alienated,” Templer said.
Templer said he was initially interested in working at Lalo because of his “Mexican vibe” and the fact that he was still playing Mexican music. Templer said the owners and managers were really respectful and communicative and didn’t treat workers like subordinates. Templer said Garcia was really kind and personable, which was very important to him.
Barista Alejandra Loredo said she also agrees that what makes Lalo’s so special is the fact that no other cafe is centered around Mexican culture.
Loredo said growing up Hispanic and seeing his parents struggle to understand and speak English made him appreciate places like Lalo. Lalo’s was designed so that people like Loredo’s parents could feel free to speak Spanish and feel at home, even if it was only with something as simple as a coffee. The traditional chocolate abuelita is the favorite drink of Loredo’s parents.
Michelle Pujol, a sophomore in Mexico City, said she likes Lalo’s because it’s a great study environment and a great place to find and connect with other Hispanics.
“It brings the Hispanic community together and allows other people who don’t know it to try some of our signature drinks and pastries,” Pujol said.