This Coastal City in Texas is a Hub for Latino Creatives and Everyone’s Been Sleeping On It
Everything evolves as time progresses. Children grow, vocabulary changes and small towns turn into bustling cities. Like many cities in the United States, Corpus Christi has a rich heritage. For decades, the Latino population has helped influence its vibrant culture. The Latino community has influenced the art, food, and culture that’s synonymous with Corpus.
Horacio “El Dusty” Oliveira tells mitú, “If you want a diverse and welcoming place with delicious food, beautiful beaches and lively festivals, choose Corpus Christi. It’s a unique destination where different cultures blend harmoniously, offering you a laid-back, relaxed pace of life.”
Despite deeply American roots, local legends say that a Spanish explorer founded Corpus Christi
According to the City of Corpus Christi, the Spanish explorer Alonzo Alvarez de Pineda discovered the “lush semi-tropical bay.” Pineda was said to have found it in 1519 on the Roman Catholic Feast Day of Corpus Christi, hence the city’s name.
The website notes that Corpus Christi is the largest city on the Texas coast. It’s also the sixth-largest port in the U.S. However, it didn’t become a centralized city until 1852, with the official city charter being adopted in 1876.
The Texas State Historical Association details that, before the Spanish colonization, Karankawa Indians were one of the many indigenous tribes prevalent in the area. The Karankawa Indians were a nomadic tribe, according to Nueces County.
They were said to live along the coast between Galveston Bay and Corpus Christi. Apparently, the Karankawa Indians consumed fish, gathered root vegetables and cactus fruit. Unfortunately, their numbers dwindled because of warfare with European settlers and disease, and many surviving tribe members moved to Mexico in the 1800s.
Like most Southern states, the U.S. border would eventually cross them. This created the breeding ground for many people of Latino origin to become incorporated with the U.S. Despite Corpus Christi being one of the smaller, heavily populated cities in the U.S., it has established some major Latino-focused organizations.
The League of United Latin American Citizens, one of the oldest and most respected Latino civil rights organizations, was founded in 1929. The American GI Forum, which respects the rights of Latino military veterans, was also founded in Corpus Christi.
Over the years, the city established a vibrant art and cultural scene largely due to its Latino community
Oliveira, co-owner of an artist-run, multi-space collective called PRODUCE®, tells mitú that the city’s “uniqueness lies in its ability to blend American and Latino cultures.” He believes this has allowed it to become “a vibrant community that is distinctively its own.”
The city is home to various art galleries, murals like the Marina Arts District, museums and festivals.
“The city’s location along the Gulf of Mexico provides a picturesque backdrop for cultural exchange. The coastal influence adds to the local lifestyle, making Corpus Christi a distinct blend of culture and scenic beauty,” Oliveira adds.
Elena Flores of Sew Bonita, an online boutique selling uniquely sewn items and one-of-a-kind apparel, agrees.
She tells mitú, “I love how much of a small, big town Corpus Christi is. The creative community is huge here, and they make sure that the culture is represented. We see artists and other creatives shine and bring to life that Mexican and American duality of identification.”
Affirming, “The Latino community is strong and heavy in Corpus Christi and continues to shine throughout different aspects of the city and community. We see it everywhere, from the food and the festivals to the music and arts scene. The proximity to Mexican borders also plays a role in influencing the culture here.”
Because of its coastal city status, the culinary scene in Corpus Christi is a blend of everything
Visit Corpus Christi says the city has varied cuisine that will suit “every palate.” Despite being a bustling Texan city, where barbecue reigns supreme, folks can find fare from both land and sea. Texas Farm Bureau Insurance notes that beachfront cities would ship fresh seafood inland because of its coastal positioning.
In addition to the abundant seafood, there is a heavy Latino influence on the culinary scene. From Mexican restaurants to Venezuelan bakeries, the Latino sazón is palpable.
Brenda Rodriguez of Café Latina, a Fair Trade Certified coffee brand, says the Latino influence makes the city unique.
“Corpus Christi’s location along the Gulf of Mexico and near the Mexican border heavily influences the city’s food, music and art, blending together Hispanic traditions and coastal influence for an experience unlike other destinations,” Rodriguez details.
She adds, “Latinas and Latinos have brought their unique experiences and perspectives to our city. We are seeing more small businesses open such as Mexican-style retail shops, coffee shops and restaurants.”
Oliveira notes that because it’s a coastal city, their Tex-Mex seafood dishes are enhanced.
“Even though Tex-Mex cuisine is popular in many places, Corpus adds its own twist to traditional Mexican dishes,” the Latin-Grammy nominated DJ says.
He adds, “Breakfast tacos and enchiladas to seafood-infused tacos, the local Tex-Mex cuisine is influenced by the city’s coastal location, incorporating fresh seafood into classic Mexican recipes — and we use a lot of cheese!”
Corpus Christi residents claim that it’s a must-see place for anyone looking for a unique experience
“Give Corpus Christi a try,” Rodriguez encourages.
She continues, “You will enjoy the city’s beaches and top attractions like the Padre Island National Seashore, USS Lexington Museum on the Bay, the Selena Museum, Whataburger Field and South Texas botanical gardens. Corpus Christi is a beautiful city and there is so much to see.”
Flores adds folks can partake in plenty of seaside activities.
She asserts, “The seawall, the Bayfront, the evolution of downtown are huge cultural elements here. There is plenty of delicious seafood to be had, as well as beaches to visit and guided fishing tours to try.”
Flores tells mitú, “Come see us! Come hang out! Corpus Christi is a perfect place to visit. Nothing is too far, traffic is almost nonexistent, small and local businesses are popping up left and right, creating culture and movement.”
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