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Seguin, 30-miles east of San Antonio and home of the “World’s Largest Pecan,” has a lot going for it – good bones as they might say – and one by one the old buildings of downtown are filling up with really exciting businesses. This explosive growth has even spilled over into some of the nearby neighborhoods. One can’t-miss business that just north of downtown on Austin St. sits inside of a big, historic PINK house.
And if you’re wondering why anyone would trip to the backyard of a big pink house in the middle of a residential neighborhood – well that’s because it’s backyard is the home of one of the best, and most creative taco restaurants in Texas – Guero’s Backyard.
It’s run by the “guero” himself Craig Ognoskie. For over a decade Craig and his wife Denise ran a fine dining restaurant out of this house but when life changes forced them to reevaluate everything, they set a new course for their future. Craig ventured to the famed CIA culinary school in San Antonio. He ditched the white tablecloths and leg of lamb in favor of picnic tables and fusion street tacos.
One look at the menu and you’ll realize that this ain’t exactly your normal backyard cooking. Thai chicken empanadas. Central American pork pupusas. Then you jump over to Asian cuisine. And the Deep South with a pulled pork sandwich. Then ahi tuna mixed with gorgonzola cheese and grapefruit – the “Marissa” which was an experiment, but turned into their best seller.
“I did it for shock value. It’s our number one seller.” says Craig.
Amongst the picnic tables in the backyard, Craig grows as much fresh produce as he can, including collard greens, squash, swiss chard, and lots of herbs. Craig has two green thumbs and eight other fingers that work magic in the kitchen. It’s a culinary roller coaster courtesy of Craig’s culinary chops
“I like cooking things that I’ve never cooked before. I’ll change the menu. I’ll come up with a menu item and I’d never tried it until the first person orders it,” says Craig. Talk about trusting your instincts.
When it came time to order, I wanted to try just about everything. I started with the reuben egg rolls as an appetizer mixing pastrami and sauerkraut inside a crispy fried roll. The beef fajita taco was a delicious classic. The soul food taco had braised shredded short ribs on top of sweet potato puree and sauteed collards. Insanely good.
Then it was time for the “Marissa.” It was excellent seared tuna atop a seaweed salad and then topped with a gorgonzola spread and grapefruit. The mix between the tangy cheese and citrus sourness was incredible. I thought I had tasted every taco that was available to the human palette, but this taco proved me wrong. This is the beauty of fusion cooking. You take different things from different cultures and you put them on a tortilla. It’s magic.
Photos by Todd White Photography