Mexican Flare: La Valentina returns to its roots with dishes from Guadalajara

Felipe Flores was taught to learn how to crawl before he could walk and learn how to walk before he could run.
The 36-year-old from Crane said he used that same motto while he was preparing to open his restaurant.
Flores and his 39-year-old wife, Laura Flores, started in a food truck in 2016 and about two and half years later they opened their brick and mortar establishment of La Valentina.
"It’s a little bit bigger than a food truck, but still has that feeling of a food truck," Felipe Flores said. "It’s small, but a little bit spacious.
"We figured that’s why we would jump on it. It’s another little step to where we want to go, but at the same time, it’s bigger than a food truck and we are stationary."
La Valentina sells dishes that are typically found in Guadalajara, which dates back to the husband and wife duo’s family roots. The restaurant stamps out corn tortillas to order and features gorditas, tacos, mentadas and tortas ahohagas, which is smothered in salsa.
The restaurant is named after the Flores’ 6-year-old daughter and is located at 1135 W. University Blvd. La Valentina is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. The restaurant is closed on Sundays.
"I’m very excited that our daughter’s name is on the door," Laura Flores said through translation. "Our daughter’s name is on what we have to offer."
Felipe and Laura Flores opened the restaurant version of La Valetina in February of this year.
The couple, who have been married for about a decade, bought the space for the building in July of 2018, but needed more than six months to open the doors.
A month after La Valentina opened, Laura Flores’ parents, 69-year-old Guadalupe Martinez and 66-year-old Catalina Martinez, traveled from Guadalajara to help kickstart the restaurant.
"I feel comfortable and I feel like being useful," Catalina Martinez said through translation.
Laura Flores said being with her parents in the kitchen in La Valetina reminds her of being a child in Guadalajara. She said she worked with her parents making, producing and selling cheese.
Those fond memories of Laura Flores’ childhood were shared by her parents.
"It reminds me a lot of when we worked together in Mexico," Guadalupe Martinez said through translation. "It’s similar to those times."
Felipe Flores said he knew he and his wife had a quality production after their friends and family constantly asked them to make food for various occasions.
The biggest obstacle Felipe and Laura Flores had to overcome was the easiest way to get their food to the public. The idea of the food truck came after taking a trip to Austin and seeing how successful that venture could be.
"It’s another part of our lives and another part of our journey that we are very happy that we started and very grateful that we started it," Felipe Flores said. "We are very grateful that people are responding the way that they are."
Since opening the restaurant, La Valentina has typically served between 300 and 500 customers a week.
There are two bars and eight stools in the dining area. There are also plenty of sugar skulls for Dia de los Muertos. The Flores’ also received a piece from Mexican muralist Benito Mendoza, aka deko_uno, which is hung up on the wall.
Laura Flores said it has been different to be in one location constantly, but as her husband explained it’s beneficial because people are coming to their second home now.
"I enjoyed traveling around in the food truck, but what makes it feel a little more at home is the customers know where we are at and they are coming here," Laura Flores said through translation. "The customers know that we are going to be here and it’s easier for them to find us."