From Nona’s Kitchen, With Love - The Bend Magazine

From Nona’s Kitchen, With Love

Authentic Mexican cuisine in the Coastal Bend

By: Jinky Romero  Photos by: Rachel Benavides

Erica Franco immigrated to the United States from Victoria, Mexico in 2014. She came equipped with a genuine love of cooking and a treasure trove of amazing family recipes that had been passed down through the generations. Franco, endearingly known as Nona to her children and grandchildren, began running the catering aspect of her daughter’s banquet hall in McAllen, Texas. However, her daughter, Erika Rose, relocated to Corpus Christi in 2016.

When Erika Rose decided to host a local dinner club, she asked her mother to do the cooking. The guests were floored by the savory meals, and one particular guest offered Franco a chance to start a small breakfast business at Howard’s BBQ in downtown Corpus Christi. From there, Nona’s Cocina was born.

Nona’s Cocina, which translates to Nona’s Kitchen, officially opened in May of 2017. Less than a year later, Franco has created a solid following with her restaurant’s authentic flavor. Nona’s Cocina is known as one of the best places to get Mexican food in the Coastal Bend—and for good reason! Franco’s specialties, Cochinita Pibil (traditional Mexican pulled pork marinated in achiote) and Tamales Veracruzanos (authentic pork tamales wrapped in banana leaves), are one-of-a-kind dishes due to their tender meat, rich taste, and filling portions. Nona’s also serves breakfast tacos and creates delicious homemade salsas.

Currently, the restaurant operates exclusively out of the drive thru of Howard’s BBQ from 6:30-10:00 AM, but they also offer catering services. The future is bright as can be for Nona’s Cocina! A stand-alone location is set to open in Hamlin Plaza, and in the very near future, a food truck will be serving up Franco’s unique recipes and sauces all over Corpus Christi and Portland.

Erika Rose shared this anecdote. “One of her grandchildren summed up his Nona the best. When asked if he understood Nona with her rapid Spanish, he smiled and replied, ‘No, but I understand food.’ Nona’s Cocina represents everything about the American dream come true.”


1002 Antelope
Corpus Christi, Texas
(361) 980-6662