A.J. Brooks Ruiz is serving authentic Mexican cuisine with a side of passion for his culture at his new taco shop, Buen Provecho. Born and raised in Brownsville, Texas, but with a family history from different parts of Mexico, Ruiz says he grew up in and around the kitchen with his grandmother, “Mama Grande.”
“I vividly remember watching her and my tias cook until about two, three in the morning, making tamales with bean, chicken and pork. We would gather together on Sundays to cook out,” Ruiz said nostalgically.
Growing up surrounded by such a rich appreciation for food sparked Ruiz’s passion for cooking, which led him to start Artesano, a taco pop-up, in 2019. The restaurant, unfortunately, shut down during the pandemic, but Ruiz started a food truck to continue sharing his flavors with the community. After a few months with the food truck, Ruiz decided it was time to once again open up a brick and mortar.
“I actually remember talking to the owner of [what is now our] building and saying, ‘Man, this is a really nice spot.’ At that point, it was still connected to what used to be The Indie Theater. [There] was this doorway to a miniscule kitchen inside. It was super small, but I saw the potential,” Ruiz said.
The building greets patrons with a window featuring a painted Sacred Heart with the inscription “Buen Provecho.” Inside, the vibrant walls, bike bar tables with tall stools and walk-up counter with an extensive menu painted on the wall are reminiscent of what Ruiz grew up seeing when visiting Matamoros and Reynosa. The walls feature artwork from local artists Mayra Zamora and Jeremy Flores, and local artist Monica Marie Garcia designed an illustrated menu featuring Buen Provecho’s signature plates.
Among the hearty selection of street tacos, a favorite is the Arrachera Street Tacos, also known as skirt steak or fajitas, which are sourced locally from Boarri Craft Butchery and come with grilled onion, cilantro, queso fresco and sliced avocado. Another popular item is the Suadero Street Tacos served with diced red onion, cilantro and queso fresco. For vegetable fans, the Veggie Street Tacos come packed with black bean hummus, roasted corn, tri-colored bell pepper, queso fresco and sliced avocado.
“I wanted to pay homage to everything I grew up around, and to my culture, with what I built here,” said Ruiz. “The tortillas are made in-house. I make the masa, I smash the masa to make the rounds, then cut them out so that every single one has a uniform shape. A lot of [what I do] goes into paying respect to what I grew up around, my love for my culture and my passion for food. Some of the best moments of my life were centered around eating tacos with family and friends.”
At Buen Provecho, you know you’re walking into a place that serves not only delicious cuisine but a whole lot of heart. Not only because of the large inscription on the wall that says Hecho con Amor, which translates into “made with love,” but because everything you’ll find within the four walls encompasses the love Ruiz has for his culture.