From left to right: Benito Briceno, Aleida Biagiotti, Maria Leon and Augusto Leon own Aleida’s Latin Food. (Eddie Harbour/Community Impact Journal)
When Maria and Augusto Leon moved to Austin two years ago, they reunited with their cousins, Aleida Biagiotti and Benito Briceno, and from there, Aleida’s Latin Food was born. “Benito was working in a restaurant and Aleida was working in another restaurant, and we started talking and we were like, ‘We can do a restaurant,'” Maria Leon said. “But we started with the food truck.”
Opened two years ago, the food truck still operates at 602 S. Bell Blvd., Cedar Park. Then, in 2021, the two couples added a brick-and-mortar location and with it, an expanded menu of favorites from across Latin America, but focused on their family home of Venezuela.
“We use natural ingredients and we prepare the food every day; we don’t leave it in the fridge for two or three weeks,” said Maria Leon.
This commitment to freshness means a kitchen start time of 5 a.m. or 5:30 a.m.
“But it’s really fresh, homemade, and people know when they’re eating it,” Maria Leon said. “They realize it’s really fresh, and people love it.”
For Biagiotti and Briceno, who have worked in restaurants in the United States, Venezuela and Spain, building the menu meant showcasing and drawing inspiration from dishes such as pabellon criollo.
As well as offering a traditional plate of pabellon with a choice of chicken, beef or pork, black beans, plantains, rice and nata – a Venezuelan-style custard – Aleida’s also offers its own take on the dish.
Layers of Aleida in the basics, without rice, in a portable arepa – which resembles a Mexican-style gordita – or stuffed inside a cachapa – a pancake-like shareable container made from corn fresh and folded like an omelet.
“It’s the national dish,” Briceno and Augusto Leon said simultaneously of pabellon.
Aleida’s Latin cuisine
2011 Little Elm Trail, Ste. 106 Cedars Park
Hours: Mon-Thu, Sat 9am-8pm; Fri 9am-9pm; Sun. 9am-3pm