CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — As typically happens in January, health clubs and gyms across the country are packed.
Here in the Coastal Bend that is definitely the case.
But now some people are heading to the YWCA here for a different reason - and it doesn't involve fitness.
Just a few steps away from the weight room, the ellipticals and the line dancing classes lies one of the city’s best-kept culinary secrets.
“Artesano means handcrafted, made by hand,” said A.J. Brooks, co-owner of Artesano’s Restaurant inside the YWCA.
In a city with no shortage of Mexican cuisine, Brooks says it's the fresh ingredients --from the handmade tortillas to the spice blends he created himself – that truly set his restaurant apart.
“Marinades for the chicken.marinade for the carne asada were all done here,” he said.
“All the sazon, everything that's in that is not store bought. It's something that's done every day, every other day, just to keep everything completely fresh and completely different. “I took everything that I didn't find in other places and said well, how can I provide that here the best I can for people when they come through.”
One thing you won’t see in the Artesano Kitchen?
“You saw in there how many canned goods did you see?” Brooks said. “None.”
His passion for food and freshness he learned from his grandmother. His inspiration. although she passed away in 2015, she is still in the kitchen with A.J. every day.
“I have her little face right here. I used to call her my old lady. He, he, he, my little old lady.”
And the love for food, family and tradition is evident in every bite.
“Anybody who walks through that door automatically becomes family to me,” Brooks said.“The way I was brought up, that person is eating at your table. You make sure they eat good and you take care of them - show them a different experience than what they can find somewhere else.”
Artesano is located inside the YWCA on Corona.
Just let the front desk know you're there for tacos,and they will point you in the right direction.