Finally, There’s a Reason to Eat the Food at 7-Eleven and You Don’t Have to Be Drunk

Everyone who struggled through their college years or early 20s — when good credit and extra income seemed like fairy tale wishes — has eaten “meals” from convenience stores. Those heat rollers of doom were often the last option when there was just enough room on a gas card to keep from starving.

Well, a new 7-Eleven concept store at the corner of Alpha and Preston Road looks to change that and it’s headed in an interesting direction.

This super-sized version of a 7-Eleven convenience store contains all the usual aisles and displays of snack foods, sodas and Slurpees, but the extra space is dedicated to a beer and wine selection, an expanded array of cold treat dispensers and the newest location for the Laredo Tacos Company.

A press release earlier this month alludes to this being a test location. Molly Long, 7‑Eleven vice president of store evolution, said: “These lab stores give us an opportunity to test, learn and scale successes into our new store standards which ultimately allows us to continuously improve the experience for all our customers.”

The core concept of 7-Eleven is practically baked into our DNA. It’s the place you go for gas when you’re looking for an excuse to get a snack or drink while pumping gas and perhaps pack of judgment-free cigarettes. This version attempts to offer something more than a simple in-between meal or a jolt of drip coffee. That’s apparent right from the entrance; there’s even an elevator.

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The carnitas bravas tacos are the real star of the Laredo Tacos Company location in the large 7-11 location at Preston and Alpha Road.

Danny Gallagher

The main floor offers all the usual convenience store amenities but with a slightly larger choice of snacks and drinks, including Utz chips.

The other noticeable expansions are a beer fridge and wine cellar. Just having a wine cellar in a convenience store is impressive, even if it’s technically on the first floor. The beer fridge was a disappointment as it just offers the usual, cheap brands you’re bound to find in any other convenience store.

The real gem of this concept store is the Laredo Tacos bar. Although there’s no drive-thru, it’s a lot better than most of the “tacos” shoved through windows at fast-food joints.

There’s a wide variety of protein and toppings and for the most part, they are tasty and unlike something that’s just been reheated to prolong its shelf life. Meats range from the usual beef and chicken to signature meats like barbacoa, brisket and carnitas bravas. The latter is my favorite. This spoonful of pork bits is crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside and has a nice amount of spice.

Simpler staples like the beef fajita look greasy in the wrapper, but they still come out just right on their own with tender meat and warm, fluffy tortillas that don’t taste like someone pulled them out of the store aisle at the last minute. There’s a noticeable amount of care that went into preparing these selections.

The only disappointment was the brisket. The taco was so greasy, it could lubricate engine parts, and the meat just tasted bland and chewy. Any one of the five flavors from the salsa bar can easily improve it. The salsa roja may only register as “two peppers” on Laredo Tacos’ scale, but it’s chock full of ripe tomatoes and jalapenos and adds a spice the brisket desperately needs.

And since you’re already in a 7-Eleven, there’s only one way to finish a tasty well-prepared convenient meal: a Coca-Cola Slurpee. 

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