One of Austin’s favorite burrito joints will significantly expand its Houston presence this year. Cabo Bob’s has leased three former James Coney Island locations for new restaurants that will open beginning in June.
In order of their anticipated opening dates, they are:
- Willowbrook Mall, 7103 Cutten Rd.
- Katy, 740 Mason Rd.
- Meadows Place, 11940 Southwest Fwy.
Cabo Bob’s founder Don Brinkman tells CultureMap he’s been impressed by the restaurant’s Briargrove location that opened in late 2019. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, its on the same growth path as the restaurant’s Austin locations.
“We had an opportunity to go with Houston or Dallas,” Brinkman says. “I feel like conceptually Houston will embrace us. Even though we get requests for Dallas. We’ll go there eventually.”
Cabo Bob’s distinguishes itself from other burrito and taco concepts in a few important ways. First, it uses high quality ingredients like Choice and Prime beef and the same farm-raised tilapia that’s used at prominent seafood restaurants. The restaurant makes all of its tortillas to order on a rotating comal. Meats are cooked over lump charcoal on ceramic smokers (either Big Green Eggs or Kamado Joe).
Customers build their burritos by choosing from four different tortilla flavors, five kinds of rice and beans, 12 different salsas and sauces, and 16 toppings. The “17 veggie burrito” illustrates the menu’s diversity.
“My philosophy is I eat the food everyday,” Brinkman says. “Once a day, I eat at one restaurant. I want to serve what I want to eat. Is our profit margin as good as it could be? No, but we get repetition because we serve a high quality product.”
As for the new locations, Brinkman says they appealed to him due to their similarities with the Austin stores. For example, Katy’s proximity to so many high schools gives it a built-in clientele of students who appreciate the restaurant’s hearty portions and reasonable prices; the same sort of customers have made supported a location near the University of Texas. Similarly, the Meadows location’s proximity to a Chick-Fil-A and a Walmart is similar to restaurant’s original Austin outpost.
“One of the jokes we have about where to pick a good location, is that Cabo Bob’s might mean 'next to Chick-Fil-A' in Spanish,” Brinkman says with a laugh.
As for the first Houston restaurant in Briargrove, local franchisee Bob Hauser says he’s feeling optimistic. Strong word of mouth has helped the restaurant reach an ever-growing audience.
“We probably have a higher percentage of first-timers at this stage than I would have anticipated,” Hauser says. “They’ve heard about us on social media or yelp. They’re venturing over from Bellaire or the Heights.”
While the three new locations will be owned and operated by Brinkman, Hauser’s franchise agreements allows him to open two more locations. He’s scouting a number of possibilities and expects to make an announcement soon.
“The challenge for us as an emerging brand is to get people to try us,” Hauser says. “Once they try us, they’re, like, ‘oh, this is better.’”