Hempstead might be nicknamed the Watermelon Capital of Texas but there’s a new colonel in town when it comes to something to snack on. It’s corn!
“Fun, easy, quick. It’s so easy to grab. I mean, it is good,” said customer Geovanni Sernn.
“The corn is soft and full and it’s fresh and we don’t see anywhere else, so this is the spot to come and buy some,” said customer Maria Medina.
Robert Mandujano and his family started shucking out elote back in 2018 when they created Elotes Bravos. Situated in Cielo Plaza, right across from the Waller County Courthouse, Robert stalked out the perfect location for this trailer when his family started cooking corn. “We’ve been pretty successful here. The town’s been able to take us in,” said Robert.
Before Robert and his band of brothers helped their parents start the elote endeavor, they grew up rocking out in of all places, churches! “We helped churches build their bands,” said Robert. “So, it was me and my three brothers. I played drums, my brother played piano and my other brother played the guitar. So, it’s like a little trio. We would go in there and teach the upcoming churches to get the youth together and try to come up with a little band, a worship team.”
Eventually, the boy band broke up but in a good way. Robert’s brothers William and Johnny went on to become aviation mechanics, Robert, a data analyst. But when dear old Mom and Dad needed some help with their little corn stand, the boys were back in town. “I always say it’s easy to get by when you have parents like mine, who are loving and supportive. So, it was a no-brainer for us to just kind of push and work hard and elevate the business to however big we can get it,” said Robert.
Since getting involved, Elotes Bravos has blossomed and now you can even find it at Shell Energy Stadium in Houston during Dynamo and Dash games. “It took a while and a lot of hard work, but we got in,” said Robert.
“I like how they’re like persistent, they’re out here every day working hard,” said customer Gianna Rogel.
“Elote’s easy. I mean, it’s at a soccer stadium, so we hope it’s going to be a big hit and a fan favorite,” said Robert.
“It just shows you a lot, how you can come from a small town to somewhere big, too,” said customer Geovanni Sernn.
Well, I needed to get a piece of that corn, so we joined Robert’s Mom Rosalia next to the roaster. “She’s a chef. Think of me as a sous chef,” joked Robert.
Sous chef Robert started things off by grabbing an ear of corn off the roaster after about 45 minutes of getting nice and toasty. Then proceeded to make elote en vaso. “First thing we do is we make sure it’s nice and cooked,” said Robert. “Go ahead and peel it. Rather hot, so just got to be careful. We’re used to this. So we shave it and then we’ll go ahead and dress it with the typical ingredients,” said Robert.
Mayo makes its way into the cup after the corn. Next, Robert adds some butter, cotija cheese, and then a squeeze of lime. “We always recommend a little bit of lemon pepper,” explains Robert. “Little bit of some cayenne pepper, just a little bit. And then some of our salsa, homemade sauce, got a little kick to it.” That’s corn in a cup. Perfect. And now we have to make corn on the cob.
Once again, Mom shows off her moves. “So, my mom’s been doing this for so long, it’s like muscle memory at this point,” said Robert. “We add some cotija, mayonnaise, some lime juice.” Rosalia is not shy with that cheese, putting it all over the corn.
So, we’re going to start off with the vaso, and in case you don’t know your español, vaso obviously means cup. So, we’re going to try the corn in the cup first. After popping it in, it was the unicorn of corn. Holy moly, that’s one heck of an elote. The subtle roasted flavor of that corn, combined with that mayonnaise and then that lime juice, is fantastic. But then the cotija cheese mixed in with that spicy sauce, so many different layers of flavor in this elote that it is worth coming all the way to Hempstead for.
“Very good. For me, the flavor, the taste, is very good,” said customer Jose Sanchez.
When it comes to the corn on the cob, what’s amazing is every time you take a bite of it, it just pops in your mouth and releases all that roasted flavor. With a bit spicier sauce on the cob, this elote had a bit more kick. Just a whole different food experience than eating it out of a cup. “I’ve tasted a whole bunch of variety of corn and this is my favorite,” said customer Maria Medina.
Well, if you’ve got a hankering for some elote, coming all the way to Hempstead to visit Elotes Bravos is definitely well worth a stop on The Texas bucket list. Or just go see a soccer game in Houston. “Working with family is always dynamic, there’s ups and downs. But there’s no one better to do it with, you know what I mean? Because at the end of the day, you go home, and you know what you did is well worth it. So that’s why we do it. That’s why we’ve all done it. It’s not about vain or glory or anything like that. No, it’s really just about them,” said Robert.