A new eatery in San Marcos is drawing locals in with its modern spin on traditional Mexican food and aromas of freshly made vegetables, various meats and spice-filled salsas.
Nearly 30 years after receiving a part-time job as a line cook at a café in Massachusetts, Andrew Silver brings his experience as a chef and business owner to San Marcos in a unique, vibrant way with Fresco, a Latin-inspired salad and grain bowl experience. Located in the retail level of The Lyndon at the Springtown Shopping Center, Fresco opened its doors to the public on Jan. 25.
“In short, Fresco means ‘fresh’ or ‘cool’ and I like to think that we are both of those things,” Silver says.
Inspired by the diversity he encountered during his line cook job and the intoxicating energy the fast-paced kitchen held, Silver opened his first restaurant in 2003, Zocalo, a casual fine dining spot located in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Derived from a similar flavor profile as traditional Mexican food, the idea of Fresco was developed over the last two years with the help of Silver's friend and business partner, Joe Muth, whom he met while studying at the Culinary Institute of America in New York.
After attempting to open the first Fresco location in Austin, Silver was presented with the opportunity to establish his restaurant in San Marcos instead.
Silver was skeptical about opening Fresco in San Marcos, as he was unfamiliar with the area and worried about catering to the college population. However, he quickly recognized how important and popular nutrition was among the younger generation.
“I get the feeling that it might only be for Instagram but, either way, it's great,” Silver says. “I know I never thought about eating well when I was in college."
To keep its promise of “building a better bowl," all individual ingredients are selected from fresh produce and spices. Silver describes his new business as "approachable but elevated," promising delicious, nutritious and affordable options for every lifestyle.
Starting at $9.85, customers can choose from a selection of lifestyle-inspired bowls, including vegan, keto, paleo and double protein. For the same price, customers can create their own bowls with a variety of fresh ingredients and house-made toppings.
Customers have a choice of up to three bases which include fresh greens, grains or Fresco's signature Cuban-style black beans; up to two proteins including meat and vegan options; and up to five or 15 toppings at no additional cost. Finally, customers have the choice to finish the bowl off with one of seven homemade dressings and vinaigrettes.
“We really wanted to create a line of delicious ingredients that stand on their own but also combine very harmoniously,” Silver says.
To tie it all together, Fresco also offers all customers three freebie toppings: Cilantro, a fresh lime squeeze and hot sauce. Classic favorites like avocado and hard-boiled eggs as well as a rainbow selection of house-made Aguas Frescas are also available for a small additional price.
“There’s a lot of brightness and acidity and those are the things that keep your palate happy,” Silver says.
Bianca Galvan, a Texas State alumna and university systems administrator was Fresco’s first customer, highly impressed after trying it out. Galvan spotted Fresco’s sign while driving through the Springtown strip. A quick search on Instagram sparked her interest in what it had to offer.
Although her diet is not completely vegan, Galvan says she loves eating mostly plant-based meals and is attracted to restaurants that offer them options.
“I would highly recommend Fresco to everyone looking for a healthy, energizing, delicious option, especially great for anyone short on time,” Galvan says. “Andrew and all of the staff were so welcoming...The vibe and food matched their name. Everything was bright and fresh.”
Silver says maintaining a positive relationship between his team and customers is a top priority for Fresco. Silver and Muth make it a point to talk to every customer, introduce themselves and ask what they liked or what they would like to see in the future. The same openness and transparency also apply to their staff members.
“[Silver and Muth] are learning along with us and let us voice our opinions on how things work or what we can do better,” says Sommer Shepherd, a criminal justice sophomore and employee at Fresco.
Putting in the effort to go the extra mile and create a welcoming environment has resulted in great reviews and high return rates in just the short time the restaurant's been open.
For Silver and his team, this response reaffirms that they are on the right track to offer an experience that people truly enjoy.
“People have so many dining choices, so when someone walks through your door, you just have to be beyond appreciative and flattered that they chose to spend their hard-earned money on your business,” Silver says.
As for the future, Silver hopes to establish those same connections with different departments within the university community and continue to provide opportunities to students at Texas State.
“We just got approved by the Bobcat Club to be a vendor for the university’s sports teams, and [we] catered food to the cheer team the other night which was very exciting,” Silver says. "We just want to become one of the benchmark places that you know, seniors tell the freshmen about and then those freshmen become seniors and they tell the freshman about and they’re like, ‘Oh, make sure you check out Fresco because they’ve got you covered when you want a delicious, affordable meal that makes you feel great afterward."
Fresco is open for dine-in and takeout, daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information or to place an order, visit its website.