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Local family flavor creates meals savored

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Posted: Monday, January 28, 2019 2:12 pm

For 18 years, Manuel and Maria Venegas, owners of Liberty Mexican food establishment Casa Don Boni, have operated their restaurant by two proverbs: keep it in the family and be a part of the community. Now, at customer request, they have also added a second venue where they serve street tacos in an open air environment.

Tacos Don Juan, located on the corner of Bowie Street and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, is there to serve you from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Menu prices conveniently range from $1.25 to $5.99, cash only. Their menu consists of traditional corn tortilla street tacos which may be ordered with a variety of sizzling meats including fajita, carne al pastor, barbacoa, chorizo, chicken, and lengua (cow tongue). Lengua may make some squeamish, but it makes for an exquisite taco. 

Local family flavor creates meals savored
Generations of wisdom and support. At left in photo, Cesar, assistant manager, has his arm around whom he calls “practically my grandfather,” Abel Gonzalez (former owner of Mas Amigos). At right in photo, Veronica Sierra, manager, stands next to her husband, Roberto Sierra (far right), and their sons, Jesus (older) and Nicholas (younger). Not pictured: Manual and Maria Venegas, owners of Casa Don Boni, were out of town.  The Vindicator | Chuck Gonzales

Also featured on the menu are tortas, burritos, and quesadillas. In addition, beans a la charra and tortilla chips compliment each order.  The food is ‘sabroso y rico,’ Spanish for flavorful and rich.    

Cesar, the Venegas’ son, who helps manage the restaurant with his sister, Veronica, admitted, “The secret is our cooks. At Casa Don Boni, my mother, two aunts, and two uncles have always been our head cooks. For 18 years they have arrived at the restaurant at 5:30 a.m. and cooked until 9 p.m. Their emotions affect the food. Their dedication and the effort they put into cooking is what makes it taste so good.” He laughed, “If your food is cooked by an angry cook, you will be able to tell.” With full sincerity, Cesar continued, “We owe it to our customers to make sure they have a good experience.  It is because of them we have been in business for long.”

Local family flavor creates meals savored
Rene Martinez grilling carne al pastor at Tacos Don Juan on Dr. MLK, Jr. Drive.  The Vindicator | Laurie Lomas Gonzales

Indeed, the Venegas are proud to call Liberty their home. The family was originally from Mexico, specifically Guadalajara in the state of Jalisco. They moved to Houston after living for a short time in California.

“It was then my father decided to follow his dream and open his own business, a family restaurant. He took a chance for his family and chose Liberty. As you can see, he has fulfilled his dream.” Cesar’s expression softened, “I was in high school and was grateful for the move. People here look out for each other. They lend a hand when someone is struggling. Our customers aren’t just strangers, they are our friends. We know them. You see, my sister and I grew up with them.”   

Besides serving customers in their venues, the Venegas Family also serves their community through sponsorships, fundraisers, and 2 a.m. taco runs to the annual Liberty High School Project Graduation. 

Local family flavor creates meals savored
It may be the lunch rush, but Nena Mauricio, Sergio Bermudez and Alma Garcia (left to right) have the cooking under control in the kitchen. The Vindicator | Chuck Gonzales

To fulfill your street taco fix with quick service, place your order at Tacos Don Juan (10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays). For full service in a smoke-free environment, including breakfast served all day, drop by Casa Don Boni on Main Street (6 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday-Wednesday and Thursday-Friday 6 a.m.-10 p.m.). Whichever you choose, the Venegas family will be happy to serve you.

Local family flavor creates meals savored
A hearty plate of carne guisada fresh from the kitchen. The Vindicator | Chuck Gonzales

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