DONNA – Down in Donna there is a secret establishment hidden so well that not even Texans know about it. As for the rest of the Midwest, well, secrets out. Donna is home to Gonzalez Burger, a meat market/store turned restaurant! Only open from for lunch from September to May, Gonzales Burger serves up some of the best burgers you can find. With beef patties the size of the owner’s, Rick Cavazos’ hand, you are sure to get your fill. Let us tell you, when a guy that is 6’5” tells you the patty is the size of his hand you better believe it’s a big burger.
Started by his grandparents Enrique Gonzales and Beta, the restaurant has turned into quite the family business. Enrique, having served in World War 2 under General Patton’s 3rd Army, decided that after fighting the Nazis he would take on a new endeavor and “came back, started the business. He met my grandmother through my uncle and then they started this business about 70 years ago.”
Wondering why so many haven’t heard of this heavenly bite? Well, “Hurricane Beulah came in and took the roof off and took the sign with it too, so we never bothered to replace the sign.” This unmarked establishment though remains to garner quite the crowd despite it’s being unmarked. Ironically enough though, most patrons come from not just out of town but out of state. A winter Texan, some may call a snowbird, “had a flat tire near here, so he needed to use the phone. He came in here and said, “Wow, this place is neat. What do you all do?” “We sell burgers.” He said, “You know what? I’ll bring my friends.” Once he brought his friends, everything just took off from there big time.”
With about a few different accents all joining together to enjoy a delicious burger, this melting pot of a restaurant has brought together all different regions of the U.S. Even with visitors like Kevin Costner, you know that these decadent burgers are sure to impress. As cattle raisers, the meat is always fresh, “we grind our own meat and we know what good quality meat is.” With all the fixings make sure to get yourself a loaded-up burger when in Donna.
The fun filled family atmosphere doesn’t even feel like a job to those who work at Gonzales Burger. Comparatively to taking a vacation, working there is “like being on vacation for the rest of your life, really.” As well as the family dynamic, “we’re all loners. We all take care of each other. That’s just the way it is.” Treating their patrons like extended family is just part of the charm of down-home Donna’s Gonzales Burger. Nora, who makes the delicious burgers, only strengthens this theme of family: “After I finished high school, my mom gave me the decision. I said, “I want to stay here.” In the summer of ’79 I started working here.” Now having been there 40 years she states, “It was the best decision I ever made.”
Don’t dally on down, get to driving to Donna and enjoy a burger that will not disappoint! Remember to pay attention to the accents you hear and make some friends from new places! We definitely did and felt like family right at home in Gonzales Burger.