The Texas Story Project.
Eduarda "Lala" Banda Rodriguez, born in Mexico on October 13, 1910, was the sixth of eight children. She came to the United States with her family and lived on the Johnson Ranch in Webb County. At the age of twelve, she and her family moved to the oil boom town of Mirando City.
Lala started working at a young age and quickly gained a reputation as a hard worker. She married in 1931, and less than five years later, was widowed with two small children. Lala reentered the work force in order to support herself and her children.
Lala worked for several families in Mirando and during those years she learned to cook many different kinds of foods for many different tastes. She decided to use her experience as a cook, and with the help of her brother, opened a cafe in a small, four-room house on the main street of Mirando City on December 31, 1953. And so began Lala’s Cafe.
The walls were soon bulging with Mexican food lovers. As the popularity of the cafe grew, it was not uncommon to find the little eating spot encircled with trucks, cars, and more cars parked on the other side of the street. People came from miles around to enjoy the hand-made corn tortillas and other fine foods.
In 1964, the growing demand from an adoring public helped Lala to build a new building where she served carloads of airmen and their families from the Laredo Air Force Base.
During the 1960s and '70s, going to Lala’s, especially on Friday or Saturday nights, guaranteed a wait. Families from different communities would meet and visit while they waited. Others brought playing cards to pass the time.
Lala passed away after a short illness in the spring of 1973. A Texas Historical Commission marker was placed in front of her restaurant in January 2014. Lala left a legacy of making people happy through her cooking with loving care. Today, the cafe continues to serve the south Texas area.
Dr. Michael Black, a native of Webb County, grew up the small town of Mirando City. He has documented much of the history of eastern Webb County.
Posted June 28, 2015