There's a few things that are certain in Waelder: trains, throngs of workers heading in for their shift, and tasty homemade burgers.
The Inquirer was out and about this week looking for those down-home, far-flung, sometimes overlooked eateries that people say you gotta try. Elida's Snack Shop was one, though our publisher only knew it as “that burger stand by the side of the road as you get into town.” Oftentimes that's the code word for the best food around.
Romeo Ortiz and wife Elida opened the little burger stand just shy of 18 years ago said Romeo, having to sit and think about it a while. While she wasn't there — she holds a regular gig across town managing the dollar store — she must be quite the lady, having her name on one of the best burger stops around. The couple have been together 36 years, so the secret must be in the burger sauce.
“I retired from my job a while back, so we started this and we enjoy it,” Romeo said. “After hours she comes out here and helps me. We hang out here together.”
The Snack Shop has covered outdoor seating for those wanting to dine al fresco. There's a good view of the coming trains, and about anything else that happens to wander by, as they are located on Hwy. 97 just before the tracks and the greater downtown area. Just look for the big burger on the front of the building.
“We've got a lot of customers across the street at J-B who come here just about every day and a lot of truck drivers stop by,” he said. “They like it.”
Their menu holds burgers, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, Frito pie, drinks, ice cream, and snow cones. While business for the cones might be slow during the colder months, Romeo insists they taste good year-round. With flavors like strawberry, tutti fruitti, margarita, cherry, and apple, he's probably good at his word.
A first-person account of the $5 cheeseburger confirms that it was definitely worth the stop. Next time, an order of fries or onion rings will be mandatory.
If you're in the area or want to head that way one day, the hours have you covered from lunch, brunch, and dinner. Elida's Snack Shop opens at 11 a.m. and closes “around 8:30-9 p.m.”
Editor's Note: This article is one in a series that will highlight Gonzales County eateries in our Discover travel guide, on newsstands soon.