“All my life, the only thing I wanted was to cook,” Bahena-Cuevas said. “After I got here, I spent all the time looking for work.”
Bahena-Cuevas worked at a Houston-area restaurant from 1985-2020. But the COVID-19 pandemic forced the restaurant to close, and he decided it was time to open his own restaurant, Vaquero Grill, off of Hwy. 249 in Pinehurst. He said staying in the Tomball area, where he has been nearly all his life, helped him make the decision.
He said getting the restaurant off the ground was not easy, but he had help from his family. The restaurant opened Dec. 1. His wife, daughter and two sons have all chipped in to help cook and run Vaquero Grill’s social media accounts to help spread the word.
Bahena-Cuevas’ latest helper is his young niece, who is learning the ropes and shares her uncle’s love for cooking.
“She likes to cook already; she keeps asking, ‘Hey, can you show me how to make this?’” he said.
Vaquero serves Southern country food, such as fried chicken, catfish and steak. He listed the restaurant’s chicken-fried steak; Vaqueros double bacon burger; and West Chicken, a grilled chicken breast served with barbecue sauce and Monterey Jack cheese, as the best dishes on the menu. Other offerings include family packs to serve groups of six with an entree choice, sides, gravy and rolls.
“I’ve got 31 years of experience with this food, so I know what I’m serving to my customers,” Bahena-Cuevas said.
He said the biggest draw for customers at Vaquero is that his reputation as a cook precedes him. Several of his repeat customers previously ate at his old establishment and were pleased to see him start up his own business.
“People know when you’re a good cook; it follows you around,” he said.
32350 Hwy. 249, Ste. 10, Pinehurst
Hours: Mon.-Thu., Sat. 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Fri. 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m.; Sun. 11 a.m.-3 p.m.