Photo by Ashley Landis
Buda eatery offers diners anarray of homemade delights
Jose Isabel Galvan, better known by “Chavelo,” his nickname and namesake of his restaurant, has been working with food since he was a child living in Zacatecas, Mexico.
He moved to the U.S. in 1992 and began working for a tamale shop two years later. By 2002, he decided he was ready to open his own food venture and began selling food from his truck in Austin.
The truck’s popularity soon exploded; he eventually received an ongoing order from an Austin hospital for 3,000 tacos per week.
Galvan scrambled to match the demand and bought the building that now houses his restaurant just off Main Street in Buda.
The restaurant is not easy to find, tucked behind a house and with very little signage visible from the street.
“Basically everything we have done is by word of mouth,” he said. “This location is kind of hiding from everything. A lot of people still don’t know that this is here.”
In the beginning, he said he didn’t even consider the possibility of using the building as a restaurant—it was only to serve as a kitchen for the food truck, his first love.
It took just a month before he decided to open the doors and let customers dine inside, but even then the restaurant followed its own rules.
Instead of ordering from menus, customers could ask for certain dishes and, depending on the ingredients available, Galvan and the cooks would or would not be able to make the dish.
Buda’s population has more than doubled since Galvan began selling food from his truck 10 years ago.
Ginnie Bracamontes has been a waitress at Chavelo’s for six years and has witnessed the growth firsthand.
“When I first started working, we would have two waitresses on a typical night,” Bracamontes said. “Now on a typical night, we’ll have three waitresses and a busboy.”
These days, visitors are most likely to find Galvan next door, swinging a hammer or pulling up boards in the dilapidated house that sits in front of the restaurant.
He recently purchased the house and is converting it into an office and storage space for the restaurant. He likes to say he is giving the restaurant “a new face.”
Galvan said a move is probably coming soon. Until a property is available in Buda that is big enough to house his booming business, though, he’ll continue playing host to the scores of diners who find their way to his restaurant.
“We have customers that come three times a day, seven days a week,” he said. “That’s been getting bigger. We started with nothing, but we’ve been getting bigger and bigger.”
Chavelo’s Mexican Restaurant, 108 N. Austin St., Buda, 295-6043