HARLETON — Folks looking for a great mix of some of Texas’ most favorite foods can make a stop in Harleton’s lone downtown restaurant, Wright on Taco Shop, for their Lone Star fix.
“We both love to cook and ran a food truck for a couple of years before opening this restaurant,” co-owner Julie Wright said Wednesday of her and husband Brian Wright. “This place had most recently been a barbecue restaurant and when it came up for sale, we asked if they could throw in the barbecue pit that was here with the sale.”
That barbecue pit spurred a thought for the Wrights — both taco lovers with matching taco tattoos to prove it — to combine two of Texas’ most famous foods.
“It spurred the idea of blending two of our favorite foods — something that would stand out among all these taco shops in the area,” Julie said. “This year, Brian is expanding our barbecue side of the shop.”
Customers stopping at Wright on Taco can get a tour of Texas’ foods by sampling everything on the menu from brisket tacos to smoked sausage and ribs to blanco queso (white queso dip) to catfish and shrimp.
“Being the only restaurant really here in town, we try to offer a little bit of everything,” Julie said. “We have grilled chicken, smoked brisket, pulled pork, shrimp, catfish, queso, brisket tacos, grilled cheese, just something for everyone.”
The Texas food combo is working, “all Wright, all Wright, all Wright,” for the couple, with word of mouth about the East Texas joint leading to a recent feature in “Texas Monthly” magazine by famed Barbecue Editor Daniel Vaughn.
“He’s =very active on social media and we are as well so word of mouth reached him about us and he popped in one during the holidays,” Brian said. “He knows his food and he releases a list of the top 50 barbecue spots in Texas every four years and the places on that list are the pinnacle of barbecue. High remarks from Daniel Vaughn means so much to us.”
Not only did Vaughn help spread the word about Wright on Taco Shop, which is in its third year of business in Harleton, the notoriety will also help with the Wrights’ upcoming barbecue event in April — a first of its kind in East Texas.
“We are hosting the first ever ‘Beast Texas BBQ Jam’ on April 18 here at the shop in Harleton,” Julie said. “We’ll have live music and pitmasters from across the state and it will just be a really fun time.”
In addition to the lunch and dinner menu, the Wrights also offer a dessert menu and a special brunch menu on Saturdays only.
“We have breakfast tacos with brisket and eggs and brisket omelets on Saturdays only,” Brian said. “We also offer daily specials which people can find out about by following us on our social media accounts from day to day.”
One of the daily specials the shop boasts (until it sells out each time) is the ‘Monster Beef Rib,’ extra large sized smoked beef ribs.
“Sliced brisket is probably our most popular barbecue item and our most popular taco is the ‘Hannah,’ which is named after our daughter because it was her favorite after school snack,” Julie said. “It’s a taco with grilled chicken, queso and bacon.”
The restaurant also offers appetizers like fried pickles, fried avocado (it comes in a taco too) and cheesy queso brisket fries.
The Wrights, who started out catering weddings and other events with their food truck years ago, still offer catering services and also host events such as birthday parties and even weddings at the taco shop.
“We built the outside patio, which is a wrap around patio, when we bought the place and we had a wedding here one time, we’ve also had birthdays and other events,” she said.
While the shop doesn’t sell alcohol, they do allow BYOB. The dining room is non-smoking and carry out orders are also available.
“We try to make as much from scratch as we can here, the salsas, the barbecue sauce, the queso, tortillas, pretty much everything except the canned drinks,” Julie said.
The Wrights, who also live in Harleton, said they are incredible grateful for the support of the community.
“I was a nurse and Brian ran his family’s machine shop before we opened this restaurant,” Julie said. “We just have a passion for good food and we love our community. Our staff of six is so great and we put everything we have into this place so it’s nice to see the hard work being noticed.”
The Wrights also thank the Texas barbecue community as well for their continued success.
“The other local barbecue places and pitmasters across the area have been so good to us and helpful as well,” Brian said. “Riverport Barbecue in Jefferson and Bodacious on Mobberly in Longview have been great help and friends to us.”
To try out Wright on Taco Shop, visit their location at 17227 TX-154 in Harleton. The restaurant is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.
To schedule catering, call the shop at 903-777-8226.