By Samantha Garza | Guest Contributor
Mexican and Waco culture collaborated to bring local coffee shop Lalo’s Coffee & Pastries to life. Commonly known as “Lalo’s,” the shop has brought Wacoans a little piece of Mexico — and others a little piece of home.
Lalo’s is the first and only Mexican coffee shop in Waco that serves traditional and authentic Mexican drinks and pastries. Located on 1500 Colcord Ave., Lalo’s sits right next to its sister business: a Mexican ice cream shop called Helados La Azteca.
Lalo’s was established in Waco in 2020 by owner Eduardo “Eddy” Garcia. The name “Lalo’s” originated from Garcia’s commonly given nickname 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 grown up in the Hispanic culture, Garcia decided to open his first business with the help of his family in 2019. He opened Helados La Azteca first and then proceeded to open Lalo’s Coffee & Pastries a year later.
“To me, it’s more about making my community — the Hispanic community — and the community in general find out something new about the Hispanic culture,” Garcia said. “Not only is Lalo’s a place for the Hispanic community to feel at home, but it’s also a place for people from different backgrounds to come and experience a different culture and learn from it.”
The drinks and pastries are part of what gives Lalo’s that Mexican feel, but it’s the environment in itself that really completes the experience. Inside the coffee shop, there are paintings, pictures, figurines, decorations and music that represent Mexico and its culture.
“The music playing and the artwork, it brings pretty much what I had in Mexico here,” barista Juan Salazar said.
Salazar said the environment and the coffee brought back memories of home. The coffee, specifically the café de olla, brought Salazar memories of the times he would go visit his grandparents during Christmas in Durango, Mexico. He described Lalo’s as being “more homemade and traditional to the Mexican culture.”
“We never really had a coffee shop that was more into the Mexican culture,” Salazar said.
Salazar said most of the coffee shops around town had the same “Waco vibe,” and Lalo’s brought more “culture and diversity into one place.”
Salazar has been working as a part-time barista at Lalo’s for almost a year now and described the working environment as very laid-back and friendly. He said one of his best memories is working with Garcia. With a landscaping business on the side, Salazar said he got much of his inspiration from 26-year-old Garcia, nicknamed “Eddy” by his coworkers.
“It’s special getting advice from him since he started at a young age,” Salazar said.
San Antonio graduate student and barista Matthew Templer had similar thoughts when it came to why Lalo’s was special and different from anything else in Waco.
“[Lalo’s] really provides a place for people who are Hispanic and in Waco — a place to not feel so alienated,” Templer said.
Templer said he was initially interested in working at Lalo’s because of its “Mexican vibe” and the fact that it was always playing Mexican music. Templer said the owners and managers were really respectful and communicative and did not treat the workers as subordinates. Templer said Garcia is really nice 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 coffee shop is centered around Mexican culture.
Loredo said that growing up Hispanic and seeing her parents struggle with understanding and speaking English made her appreciate places like Lalo’s. Lalo’s was made so that people like Loredo’s parents could feel free to speak in Spanish and feel at home, even if it was just with something as simple as a coffee. The traditional chocolate abuelita is Loredo’s parents’ favorite drink.
Mexico City sophomore Michelle Pujol said she likes Lalo’s because it is a great studying environment and a great place to find and connect with other Hispanics.
“It brings the Hispanic community together, and it allows other people who are not familiar with it to try some of our signature drinks and pastries,” Pujol said.