By Billy Ingle
Picantes Mexican Restaurante’s authentic food and great prices make Texas Tech University students think twice before they hit the drive-thru at Taco Bell.
Lubbock residents and students from all over cram into the small building at 3814 34th St. every morning, except Tuesdays when it is closed, starting at 7 a.m.
Jaime Carmona, the owner of Picantes, said he has been running his business at the same location for 19 years.
“When we first opened I made about 50 burritos and handed them out in the neighborhoods and at hospitals,” Carmona said. “It was hard at first, but then people start coming back and coming back and you start to build a business.”
Carmona said if you want to be successful in life you have to work hard for it, and that is what he did. He said for 12 years he would wake up at 5 a.m. to make sure the restaurant was ready to open on time. He said it is hard, but it can be done.
“You have to make the food with your heart and with passion,” Carmona said. “If you worry about pleasing the customer the money will come along with it. If you are always worried about the money the food will not be as good.”
Carmona said his goal is not to feed his customers just today, or tomorrow or the next day, but to feed his customers for months and years.
He said the number one priority in his restaurant is the customer. And to keep customers happy, he has to be happy. He said if he walks into work in a good mood, the waitresses and cooks will also be positive, and in return, the customers will be pleased with the service.
Lawson Rousseau, a sophomore agricultural business major from Lubbock, said the first time he ate at Picantes was when he was a freshman in high school.
“Picantes is a popular place to go eat especially with high school students,” Rousseau said. “Everyone loves their cheap breakfast burritos.”
Rousseau said he has gone to Picantes with his parents as well, not just with his friends and other students. He said they make quality food with fresh ingredients, and that is why they are so popular in Lubbock.
Rousseau said his favorite thing to eat at Picantes is their breakfast burritos. He said you cannot beat a cheap yet good quality burrito for $4.20.
Gail McGehee, a junior mechanical engineering major, said she first came to Picantes her freshman year at Texas Tech during her sorority recruitment week.
McGehee said her favorite dish is the gorditas with added queso. She said she also likes that the restaurant sells Mexican sodas along with the American ones.
“They have the best queso in Lubbock, and you will definitely like it”, McGehee said. “If you don’t, I will pay for your meal.”