Faces of the RGV: Gateway to South Texas

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The RGV is full of activity and restaurants run by the local community. Faces of the RGV will be put the spotlight on the community and their stories.

Edinburg, Texas (ValleyCentral) — This week ValleyCentral takes you to the home of the Bobcats, Cougars, Jaguars, and Sabercats. Connected to the RGV by Interstate 69C it serves as an entrance to the Rio Grande Valley, earning its name gateway to South Texas. Founded in 1908, the city has a population of over 95,000 making it the third-largest city in the area. Recognized as an All-America City three times it is held as one of the distinguished cities in the nation. A growing community that relies on each other has allowed for rich history to bloom. A city known for its various business and activities, Edinburg has become known for its many offerings.

Edinburg

Many will know Edinburg as the home for the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley. Formerly known as the University of Texas-Pan American. The school rebranded itself in 2015 merging the Brownsville and Edinburg schools into a single university. Taking pride in being the Valley’s school their mascot, the vaquero is meant to honor the rich culture and history of the RGV. Fans are able to see the Vaqueros compete at the collegiate level in basketball, soccer, track, and baseball throughout the school year. Close by sporting fans of basketball and soccer are able to see the RGV Vipers and Toros, the local professional sports teams. Opened in 2018, the Bert Ogden Arena is the home of the Vipers basketball team and has become a major venue for events like concerts. H-E-B Park is another venue in Edinburg that serves as the home of the RGV Toros soccer team since 2017. Not just a soccer stadium or sporting venue it has also acted as a place for live entrainment or events. Like many cities, Edinburg also has a municipal park that is open daily to the public. Escaping the city life and noise here where residents can enjoy the outdoors. From walking the trails or using one of the many fields the park has many uses.

A memorable experienceUniversity Drafthouse

Seven years of business has allowed University Drafthouse to continue serving craft beer and gourmet-style food. Started by co-owner Albert Rigo, his wife Sony and business partner Fred Harms, the restaurant first opened its doors to Edinburg in 2014. Located just a few blocks away from the university, students and residents enjoy an eventful time. Decorated in gear from the various universities, fans can watch their favorite team play on the big screen like the Vaqueros or the Longhorns. According to Rigo inspiration for the restaurant came from bigger cities and wanting to bring that experience to the city. Making University Drafthouse something the RGV can call its own. The name is a result of the research done by Rigo where he found to his surprise the name was not trademarked. Paving the path for potential expansion across the nation. The outpouring of support and success has made the owners proud but also why they encourage giving back. According to Rigo, they have raised money for the culture arts foundation, a program that focuses on preserving and restoring historic buildings. But the foundation is just one of many ways the restaurant has allowed them to give back to the community. Through University Drafthouse, they are giving an experience to people they will not forget. “It is definitely our goal for customers to go away with a feeling that their visit was memorable, said Rigo.

Made fresh- Build-A-Burger

Beginning as a food truck in April 2018, Build-A-Burger has grown to become its own brick-and-mortar restaurant. Founded by Ricardo Cruz, his wife, daughter and 2 sons-in-law, it allowed a dream to come true. Inspiration for the restaurant came from their love of cooking burgers and from Cruz’s childhood. As a 12-year-old, Cruz’s father used to own a burger stand called Mini Burger Stand in La Grulla, it’s from here where that passion grew. As a young kid, he loved to help his sister in the kitchen, and seeing the long lines built a love for the craft. Cooking for his family and sons-in-law at home gave the idea to open the food truck that would later become the restaurant. Specializing in burgers, all of them are made in old-fashioned style meaning the burgers are made on the same day. No frozen patties are at the restaurant and everything is made fresh giving the burgers a homemade look. While the focus is on burgers, the restaurant does make other items like chicken strips. Located inside is another business they run called Build-A-Taco. According to Cruz, seeing all types of people come through like first responders and students is a great feeling because it means they are coming to the business and giving their support. Providing great food is just part of the overall experience that the restaurant is offering. Most importantly is making sure that customers are happy and giving great customer service that leaves a positive impression. “If something ever goes wrong, the manager will always make it right,” said Cruz.

Chicago Style-Cordon’s Taste of Chicago

Paying homage to his upbringing, owner and founder Edgar Cordon started Cordon’s Taste of Chicago to bring the Chicago flavor to the RGV. Moving to the RGV to play baseball for the then University of Texas-Pan American in 1982 it would be three decades later before he would open Cordon’s in 2011. Family-owned and operated, his daughter Alyssa Cordon serves as the general manager. Decorated in all things Chicago, customers are given the experience of what dining in the city would feel like. In the back, families can drop off their kids to play. Serving some famous foods like the Chicago-style hot dog and Chicago deep-dish pizza, both are made to stay true to the original taste. Everyone in the family helps out with the business and because they are a big group, it makes it much more manageable according to Alyssa Cordon. To help her family run the business Cordon attended culinary school to learn how to best manage the restaurant. Calling her the brains of the operation, Edgar says she is the reason the business continues to run. Having been in business for 11 years, there is so much support and love they have seen from the community. “We have such a big family and we think of the people that come here like our regulars that come here are like a family,” said Cordon. ” I think when I see people that come here and enjoy our food, I appreciate that.”

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