If you’ve visited the Dallas Farmers Market in the last few months, you might have stumbled on one of Dallas’ newest vegan enterprises. Sierra Valley Food offers homemade vegan Mexican dishes like tamales, tacos, gorditas, burritos and baked goods. It joins a growing crop of healthy and vegan Mexican restaurants in Dallas, like the all-vegan El Palote Panaderia, new Deep Ellum vegan taco and coffee spot Tiki Loco and Hugo's Invitados in Irving, where the menu is almost entirely gluten-free and proteins are free-range, wild-caught or grass-fed.
The Hernandez family started recipe development for Sierra Valley Food a year and a half ago. Paula Hernandez is from San Luis Potosi and always dreamed of starting a food business or restaurant.
“She loves cooking and to serve people,” says Jesse Hernandez, Paula's son.
Paula’s daughter, Esmerelda, became vegan a few years ago, which influenced other members of the family.
“She converted everyone else to various levels of veganism,” Jesse says.
Sierra Valley Food was born out of Paula’s desire to share her family’s recipes and Esmerelda’s vegan diet.
“My sister still wanted to eat all the food we love,” Jesse says. “My mom has archives of knowledge of how to do things the traditional Mexican way. We combined that with all the information out there on how to create vegan dishes.”
The name Sierra Valley Food is a nod to Paula’s family — her maiden name is Sierra — as well as a play on words. “Sierra” means “valley” in Spanish.
The Hernandez family spent a year perfecting their recipes. They use various meat alternatives — jackfruit in the “pork” tamales and dehydrated soy in the “pork” tacos. The “al pastor” and “beef” are made using wheat gluten.
“It’s all about the right texture and bite,” Jesse says. “It’s interesting how we can infuse the flavors. We can blend the seasoning into the ‘meats’ that we make. That’s why we think our flavors are so strong; it’s already baked into the ‘meat’ from the beginning.”
Sierra Valley Food debuted at the Dallas Farmers Market in October, and the family is excited by the response they’ve received.
“When you hear vegan Mexican food, you may have a preconception about it,” Jesse says. “Over the past five months, it’s been really good. We didn’t expect this much traction.”
They intentionally don’t push the fact that their food is vegan.
“Our favorite reaction is when people that aren’t vegan come by and try the food and are shocked and in disbelief that what they ate wasn’t meat,” Jesse says. “Those are the reactions that we really enjoy. That means we’ve succeeded in what we’ve been trying to do for the past year and a half. We want to make sure these recipes are not just good enough to be vegan, but they’re good enough for everybody out there.”
The Hernandez family will continue to grow Sierra Valley Food outside of Dallas Farmers Market.
“The plan is to get in front of people and to get our name out there. April is going to busy for us,” Jesse says. “We’ll be at EarthX and a few events in Plano. We’ll also be at V Market, a monthly vegan pop-up, and the Texas Veggie Fair this fall.”
You can also order their food online and pick it up at the Dallas Farmers Market, or they will deliver it to your house. Be on the lookout for Sierra Valley Food products in retail settings, too.
“The goal is to have a few products in stores — we want to package our meat and cookie dough,” Jesse says.
Right now, you can find Sierra Valley Food at the Dallas Farmers Market most Saturdays and Sundays, depending on weather and special events.
“We stay very connected to our customers on Instagram,” Jesse says, so check social media to find out where they’ll be next.
Sierra Valley Foods at the Dallas Farmers Market, 920 S. Harwood St. (Farmers Market)
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.