Walking in the door of the Fruit Barn, a friendly voice immediately greets you. Then, the cool air surrounds you as you walk to the counter. The display case has so many choices of Mexican candies but save one of those to enjoy when you leave.
After placing an order, you might as well sit down in a booth to wait. This is not a fast food place. Each order is prepared after the order reaches the kitchen with only the freshest ingredients. As you wait, the pleasant conversations are broken often by the muted ding of the drive-through window.
The large fruit cup painted on the front of the building by the family artist foretells what is found inside. The mixture of pieces of a variety of fruit is one selection preferred by the customers and comes in different sizes.
Stacy Valadez opened the Fruit Barn eight months ago. It is a family business. Her sister Vanessa Delgado has worked the front counter since it opened. Emma Luna, a family friend, started helping with the drive-through and counter five months ago. Brother Jacob Aguilar is in the back with Stacy to prepare each order.
Stacy and her husband Philip Valadez moved to Portland 12 years with their three sons when he was stationed at Naval Station Ingleside. Following Philip’s retirement, the Valadez family chose to remain in Portland.
Stacy said one reason for their decision to remain in Portland was the Gregory-Portland School District which she really liked. Two of their sons have graduated and the youngest one is a GPHS Junior this year.
Community is the other explanation for the Valadez family staying in Portland. Stacy had lived in Victoria during her younger years and has enjoyed living in a smaller town.
“Everything is tight knit around here and I really like that!” ~ Stacy Valadez
The Mexican fruit slushy drinks are another big seller. You may choose the mango nada, strawberry nada, pineapple nada or freso nada. These fruit drinks feature adding chamoy sauce, a sweet and spicy Mexican fruit condiment and chili powder to add the distinctive flavor to the icy drink.
Employees from the Wells Fargo Bank, which is located close to the Fruit Barn, call in their mango nada drink order then someone picks them up and delivers the drinks for an after-work refreshment.
Stacy said she put a chicken salad sandwich on the menu when she first opened just to have a lunch option. It is served on a croissant with chips and fruit. Customers loved the fresh sandwich and requested it stay on the menu.
Miller Navarro is one of those customers. He comes to the Fruit Barn two or three times a week for his usual lunch of the fresh chicken salad sandwich with double fruit – no chips. A life-long Gregory resident, Miller is the M in M&S Tree Service so his working day is spent working outside in the heat.
“The food is always fresh and inside it is clean and cool.” ~ Miller Navarro
The Fruit Barn has several other choices to tempt their customers. The bionicos has chopped fruits with added granola, shredded coconut, raisins and sweetened cream. Their corn cups have fresh corn with butter, lime juice and creama Mexicana with that dash of chili powder.
Or, how would you like a watermelon pizza or apple nachos?
You can order platters or bowls for parties. The possibilities are endless. Fill them with fruit combinations, mini croissant chicken salad sandwiches or maybe pinwheel locos.
The locos begin with a fresh tortilla spread with all kinds of goodness. Jimica, carrots, cucumber, cueritos (pickled strips of pork skin), Japanese peanuts (peanuts flavored with soy sauce and a crunchy coating) are all included. The tortilla is rolled then sliced for the pinwheels.
“We’re here!” said Stacy. The Fruit Barn is open Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. Hours on Friday are from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from noon until 8 p.m.
714 Dallas Street, Portland can be a hard place to find if someone does not live in Portland. Call 361-704-6191 if you need directions or find them on Facebook: Fruit Barn, https://www.facebook.com/realfruitbarn. Follow the Fruit Barn for their specials which are only announced on a post and may last only an hour.
Walk-in or call to order.
Walk-in or drive-through to pick-up.
The food will be fresh and the company will be friendly