DEL RIO – Inside this tiny kitchen in Central Del Rio, Tirzah Starnes is creating some incredible culinary cuisine with her sister, Kendall. “All of our lives, I’ve been bossing her around,” said Tirzah with a laugh while acknowledging her sister. “She loves it,” she finished.
Don’t let Tirzah’s tomfoolery take you for a loop, because these two get along great. “Honestly, I couldn’t do this without her,” said Tirzah. “She’s my right hand girl.” Always hip to hip in the kitchen, these two sisters have to be close because they don’t have a whole lot of room to work with. Basically a small room with a kitchen, a counter, and a lone table for customers. “It’s a little space,” said Tirzah. “We use every single nook and cranny of it. So many times, you are curious what goes on behind those closed doors, and when they swing open, you want to peek in and see what’s going on back there,” said Tirzah. “But I wanted to create a space where you could see what we were doing. I thought that was fun.”
Being in such close quarters, one must always respect the cooks and give them a little bit of space. “They’ll come over behind the line and ask you something,” said Tirzah. “I’m like, ‘Can I help you with something? It’s really hot over here. Please don’t touch anything,” joked Tirzah.
Fragola’s may be a very small venue, but they crank out some incredible food creations thanks to Tirzah’s tenacity. She had a dream of opening her own restaurant and she made it happen. “I knew that I loved food,” said Tirzah. “I knew that I loved food, and I knew that I was a damn good cook. I knew that if I was going to do it, I was going to go big or not do it at all.”
In 2018, Tirzah went big with her bites, but not so much with her space. But business is still good, and just being able to do what she loves has been as divine as her dishes. “It is a blessing,” said Tirzah. “I will say that this is a fruition of what I have prayed for. This is an answered prayer, and God is just continuing to answer prayers for me.”
With a constantly changing menu, you never know what will be on the board when it comes time for lunch. “We’re trying to get people out of their box,” Tirzah said. “They live in a little box, and we’re trying to slowly take them outside of their flavor boxes. It’s working! It’s working.”
But there is one specific sandwich that can’t fly the coop, because it’s way too popular. “Jalapeño honey-drenched crispy chicken sandwich. It’s a mouthful in more ways than one,” said Tirzah. “We have to do it every other week, or we’ll have some upset customers. We came up with this jalapeño infused honey that we make fresh in-house. We put some hickory smoked bacon on it, on a piece of buttermilk fried chicken and called it a day. It is all of the delicious things that you want in a fried chicken sandwich. It’s crunchy, it’s sweet, it’s salty, it has the creaminess from the mayonnaise. It’s the perfect chicken sandwich,” said Tirzah confidently.
Tirzah starts the sandwich off by frying up some magnificently marinated chicken in her tiny air fryer. “As soon as it comes out of that hot oil, we’re going to give it a little dunk in this,” said Tirzah. “This is our jalapeño infused honey. It’s so good. It’s not too spicy. The sweet kind of balances the heat, but we make this fresh in-house. It’s awesome.”
Then the chicken is ready to get baptized in the hot, sticky sauce. While the chicken sits in the honey and jalapeño spa, a toasted brioche bun gets covered with may, a gargantuan piece of lettuce, vine ripened tomatoes, and then comes the chicken with a few extra jalapeños on there. “The first day that we did it, we literally sold out. We were looking at each other like,’oh my gosh, I think they like it,” said Tirzah.
“Substantial piece of chicken. It’s hard to get your hands around it but harder to get your mouth around it. But yeah, once you get it in, it’s awesome,” said customer Quinn Chandler.
A lot of times when you think of fried chicken sandwich, it’s kind of a heavier chicken sandwich, but this is nice and light and it’s all about that jalapeño honey dressing that just goes throughout the breading. Sweet, savory, absolutely perfect. Once again, the chicken sandwich wars did not make their way to Del Rio, because this would have reigned supreme. “I’ve had it I can’t tell you how many times since I’ve been here, since I’ve discovered this place, and every time, I love it,” said Quinn.
Well, if you happen to be down in Del Rio looking for a great place to dine, come into Fragola’s for this incredible jalapeño honey-drenched crispy chicken sandwich. It’s definitely well-worth the stop on The Texas Bucket List.
“Let my cup overflow, and because my cup overflows, let it fill up other people’s cups,” said Tirzah. “That is exactly what it has done and it continues to do.”