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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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‘Not just Tex-Mex’

Photo by Provided

Velvet Taco, which will open their first College Station location on Monday, Aug. 30, provides customers with a unique menu and taco options. 

Focusing on freshness and creativity, national chain Velvet Taco is bringing a new type of taco to Bryan-College Station. 
Set to open Monday, Sept. 6 at 11 a.m., Velvet Taco is coming to Century Square to serve a variety of internationally inspired tacos and their famous “Kickass” margaritas. The location will feature indoor and outdoor seating, as well as a walk-up window. With weekly hours until 10 p.m. and weekend hours until 2 a.m., it’s a promising choice for late-night bites.

Kristie McDaniel, Class of 2014, is the store manager of the new location, and although she’s had over a decade of experience in the restaurant industry, she said her experience at Velvet Taco has been entirely unique.
“The last four months I’ve been blown away by the detail and quality of Velvet Taco,” McDaniel said. “With [the COVID-19 pandemic], I was not a fan of the direction other restaurants I worked for went in terms of quality of food. Velvet Taco is an all-scratch kitchen — we homemake our salsas and slow-roast our chicken.”

Training manager and College Station native Ryane Lea echoed this and said she has also never worked in an environment quite like Velvet Taco.

“The freshness and integrity in our food sets us apart from everyone else,” Lea said. “I’ve never seen a restaurant operate so well. I worked with different companies before where they go a different route; a lot of things become pre-made or pre-diced and things like that. [At] Velvet Taco, we don’t cut any corners. We put that love into the food, and it shows.”

Though the Bryan-College Station community is very familiar with taco restaurants, especially of the Tex-Mex variety, Velvet Taco’s offerings feature flavors from all around the world. With options like tikka, paneer, Nashville hot chicken and more, McDaniel said the diversity of flavors fits well into the international community of Texas A&M.

“What’s really different is that we’re not a Tex-Mex restaurant or a breakfast taco place,” McDaniel said. “A&M is a hub for people all over the world, and I’ve yet to find someone who hasn’t found something on the menu they’ve fallen in love with.” 

Lea agreed and said she feels it’s worth the while to try the full range of flavors. 
“More than anything, when it comes to Velvet Taco I want people to know it’s real cuisine and [we] have a lot of different flavors to offer,” Lea said. “We’re not just Tex-Mex. We have a wide variety of tacos that I think you need to at least try twice.” 

Despite the wide range of options, both Lea and McDaniel said their favorite offering was the Mexi-Cali shrimp. McDaniel said the appeal comes from the attention to detail.

“This one is my favorite because I can’t get [it] right now, the Mexi-Cali shrimp. It’s got our purple cabbage slaw and homemade citrus lime crema, and our avocado salsa and micro cilantro,” McDaniel said. “Some people think garnishes are just decoration, but our garnishes are here and they mean business — they really add a layer to the flavor profile.”

A particularly unique feature of Velvet Taco’s menu are their “WTFs,” or “Weekly Taco Features,” which are new taco selections every week of the year, and customers can even make recommendations for the features via the Velvet Taco website. McDaniel said she loves this option because it keeps both the staff and customers intrigued.

“What I’ve seen in restaurants is that humans are creatures of habits, they have their typical order. The thing with Velvet Taco is that our menu is so diverse and intriguing,” McDaniel said. “We have some guests who come in every week just to try [the WTFs] because they know it’s only there for seven days. It keeps our tribe on their toes and keeps our customers interested.”

As the training manager, Lea is passionate about having a prepared group of employees, and she said she finds the training process at Velvet Taco to be thorough and personal.

“Velvet Taco has the greatest outline for the training process for everyone,” Lea said. “Finally being with a company that’s so organized and constantly producing the perfect taco for people inspired me to go even further with my job. I love being the training manager. I really get to work the counter servers and front of house and our guests. It’s my favorite part, the people.”

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  • Velvet Taco, which will open their first College Station location on Monday, Aug. 30, provides customers with a unique menu and taco options. 

    Photo by Provided

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