Day Trips

La India Packing Co. in Laredo sells hundreds of different kinds of seasonings and herbal remedies. In the Tasting Room Cafe you can try some of the seasonings before you buy. The family-owned business still occupies the little house in a residential neighborhood that was the founders' grocery store. Out of sight behind the gaily decorated storefront is a two-story metal warehouse building where the herbs, spices, and seasonings are processed and packaged. The international purveyor of fine and hard-to-find herbs began in 1924 when Antonio and Antonia Rodriguez opened their grocery store in a neighborhood a few miles from the Rio Grande. To increase sales, the couple also made a traditional Mexican candy they sold to other neighborhood shops.


From there they added Antonio's special seasoning blends for traditional chorizo, menudo, and fajitas. The company still sells many of the spice blends that Antonio concocted, as well as a special Mexican hot chocolate mix.

Since 1990, the company has been run by Maria Guadalupe Rodriguez, the widow of one of Antonio and Antonia's six children. Elsa Sanchez is the general manager and the third generation of her family to work for the company.

Over the years La India has added more seasoning blends, spices, and teas to the long list of products. This is also the place to find traditional herbs from around the world to treat everything from a sore throat to mal de ojo. The cooking spices can be found in major supermarkets around the state and ordered through the Internet.

If you make the trip to visit their showroom in the tiny house, be sure to stay for lunch. Three of the four rooms of the house are filled with tables and shelves displaying the company's products. By early afternoon the crowds have usually thinned out.

The lunch menu is an eclectic mix of traditional Mexican dishes and American fare, including fajitas, enchiladas, and a curry chicken or tuna salad. What's odd is the kitchen serves a wonderful mole dish, yet the spice company doesn't sell a mole mix. You have to buy the ingredients separately and make your own blend of chocolate, peanuts, and peppers.

One of the most popular dishes is the homemade chicken salad. It is very traditional, with celery and mayonnaise, but it has a unique blend of subtle flavorings. Top it off with a piece of the delicious Key lime pie and/or tangerine pie.

La India Packing Company is at 1520 Marcella Ave. in Laredo. The spice room is closed on Sunday and the Tasting Room on Saturday and Sunday. The store and cafe are north of I-35 and two blocks north of Corpus Christi Street. Spice and herb orders are taken over the phone or by e-mail. For more information, call 956/723-3772 or go to

1,023rd in a series. Collect them all. Day Trips, Vol. 2, a book of Day Trips 101-200, is available for $8.95, plus $3.05 for shipping, handling, and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, PO Box 33284, South Austin, TX 78704.

More in this category: « Have you tried our delicious Mole?

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