BUSINESS ON THE BORDER: NOW

Federal, not Mexican, money feeds S. Arizona's commerce

2011-12-15T00:00:00Z 2011-12-15T07:40:39Z Federal, not Mexican, money feeds S. Arizona's commerceBrady McCombs Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
December 15, 2011 12:00 am  • 

NACO, Ariz. - Tacho's Tacos has become a favorite of the hundreds of Border Patrol agents working in the area.

The best seller: the Border Patrol burrito.

The steak, cheese and guacamole wrap was a custom order by an agent from Texas who frequented the taco shop, just up the road from the agency's Naco station. Others started asking for it, too, and it stuck, said Monica Solis, the manager and daughter of the restaurant's owners.

The massive buildup of Border Patrol agents over the last 15 years - there are five times as many today along the Southwestern border as there were in 1992 - has been a boon to border restaurants like this one, which become hot spots for hungry federal agents with money to spend.

Since opening 18 years ago, Tacho's Tacos has experienced minor ups and downs - but the recession "has not affected us at all," Solis said.

Anastacio and Bertha Salaiz opened Tacho's Tacos in 1993 after the gas station and convenience store at the location, 1335 S. Naco Highway, closed.

They started with a small menu of fast-food tacos and burritos. Being able to get fresh, tasty food quickly made it a popular spot for Border Patrol agents.

It morphed into a fast casual restaurant, where diners order at the counter and then sit down to be served. Bertha Salaiz keeps expanding a menu that is based on the Sonoran-Mexican food her family taught her to cook. Her father had a taco shop in Naco, Sonora, for 45 years. Her mother's red and green chile and milanesa are staples at Tacho's.

One Border Patrol agent who used to work in Naco likes the red chile so much he's called twice to have it sent to where he was restationed - on the Canadian border.

Besides Border Patrol agents, Customs and Border Protection officers come from the nearby port. So do federal agents combating drug- or people-smuggling.

The billions spent to improve border fences, roads and stations also trickle down to restaurants like Tacho's Tacos. Construction workers building a $32 million Border Patrol station in Naco have been frequent customers. One recent day, an early lunch rush was fueled by five workers from Phoenix working on the project.

When the National Guard was stationed on the border during 2006-2008, soldiers stayed at the San Jose Lodge, owned by the Salaiz family, and ate at the restaurant there. They served breakfast and dinner to 75 to 80 soldiers a day throughout the 18-month mission.

"That was real good business," Anastacio Salaiz said.

Solis, born and raised in Naco, even met her husband at Tacho's Tacos. His job? You guessed it - he's a Border Patrol agent.

Contact reporter Brady McCombs at 573-4213 or bmccombs@azstarnet.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Activate

Follow the Arizona Daily Star

Event Calendar

Today's events | Add an event

Most viewed:


Get weekly ads via e-mail