Spend any time with Joe Zavala, the co-owner of Zavala’s Barbecue in Grand Prairie, and he’ll tell you all about his Tejano roots and how barbecue is inextricable from them. Then he’ll start to talk tacos. On the last Friday of each month, Zavala and his crew open their doors at 7 p.m. for Taco Night, where they sling tacos made with locally-sourced flour tortillas, 44 Farms beef cheek or fajitas, and outstanding sides like classic queso. The line can go on for hours, so I recommend getting there early and ordering one of everything. The next one is Friday, February 28.

— José R. Ralat, taco editor

Artist Shyama Golden

Growing up in Houston, Shyama Golden entered art competitions at rodeos and shot rolls of film depicting the cats roaming around her neighborhood. These childhood experimentations later manifested themselves into illustrations, and Golden went on to study in the graphic design program at Texas Tech University. After graduating, she took on design jobs, but her underlying urge to illustrate lingered.

Thanks for reading Texas Monthly

We’re publishing more stories than ever before, and giving you unlimited access to all of it. Subscribe now to have the magazine delivered to your home.

When Golden was commissioned to make a commemoration piece, Women’s March, after the 2017 protest, she got her big break. Since then Golden has seen success with her exhibitions, saw the release of a game, “Llamanoes,” inspired by her illustration, and has had her art featured in films such as Little. Golden’s distinctive illustration technique combines old and new mediums, as when she uses oil and acrylic paint alongside technologies including an iPad. Golden’s exploration of vibrant patterns and subtle movement results in displays that feel like a waking dream.

Kathia Ramirez, art assistant 

A Podcast About the “Underground Aams Trade”

Most American consumers are familiar with the Mexican mango: a sweet, sometimes tart, ultimately satisfying summer fruit. But, according to Pakistani American podcaster Ahmed Ali Akbar, of the podcast See Something Say Something, you haven’t really lived until you’ve tried the Pakistani mango: it’s sweeter and juicier, with almost floral notes. The problem is, it’s almost impossible to find one in the United States—unless you know a guy who knows a guy who’s in the right WhatsApp group. In this two-part investigation for Proof, a new podcast from America’s Test Kitchen, Akbar traces the underground mango trade’s through-line in the United States from his mango-loving cousin in Michigan to small South Asian grocery stores on Coney Island Ave., New York, all the way back to Texas A&M AgriLife’s facility in College Station. While the story is lighthearted and surprising, you’ll also learn a thing or two about global diplomacy and trade. And you’ll be left to wonder if it’s worth calling up someone at A&M to see if you can get a box of these hard-to-find Pakistani mangoes.

Amal Ahmed, assistant editor

Texas Champions Preview Day

One of Sam Houston Race Park’s recurring events, live thoroughbred horse racing, is accompanied by beers that go for 50 cents each. But this Saturday, February 22, the Houston park will be hosting a special racing event, Texas Champions Preview Day, which features more than $300,000 in purses awarded to renowned Texas thoroughbreds. There, the best of the best will compete for a chance to participate in the big Texas Champions Day race on March 21. Saturday’s event begins at 6:45 p.m.

Lawson Freeman, editorial intern

Central Market’s Floral Department

Sure, Central Market’s floral department has been around for a while. But its sheer variety of flower types and colors stands unmatched, and deserves appreciation. The value lies deeper than just a selection of stems, too. Offering options like single-stem roses and mini-bunches (usually part of a glorious three-for-$10 discount), it lets buyers embrace their inner florist and craft their own arrangement. And if you’re in the market to purchase flowers for someone, their whimsical pre-made bouquets might as well have been assembled in a boutique. In a state where wildflowers rule as kings of spring, Central Market sets itself apart as one of Texas’s floral masters.

—Arianna Flores, editorial intern

 

This article has been updated to correct a reference to Ahmed Ali Akbar’s uncle. It was his cousin. Also, a reference to South Asian grocery stores on Jackson Heights Avenue has been corrected. The stores are on Coney Island Avenue.