Each morning, at 4 a.m., the workers at Licon Dairy prepare to make hundreds of packages of their famous asadero cheese. That cheese and Licon Dairy’s other products go to area mom and pop stores, as well as grocery chains such as like Albertsons and Vista Markets, and even to distributors in Midland and Odessa.
Beyond that, you must visit the dairy in San Elizario to purchase the cheese. While Licon Dairy produces other types of cheese, their asadero cheese is a customer favorite, says Manager Angel Licon. The cheese, he says, has a taste all its own, and that taste is nostalgic to many in the Borderland.
“There’s not too many other local businesses that actually make the cheese the way we do,” Licon says. “It doesn’t follow the traditional recipe, like the Mexican cheese — it’s more Americanized.”
Seventy-five years ago, Angel Licon’s great-grandparents, armed with five packages of homemade asadero cheese, each day set out to sell the cheese to neighbors. That’s how Licon Dairy’s legacy started: door to door.
Now, the iconic San Elizario dairy makes 500 packages of asadero cheese every day. The dairy also sells other dairy products, such as whey, queso Chihuahua, queso jalapeno, queso habanero and chile con queso. And the asadero recipe is just the same as it was when Licon’s great-grandparents started selling the cheese, Licon says, making it special to El Pasoans.
“It gives customers a flavor that helps them remember when they were younger and would come get the cheese,” he says. “It gives them that sense of home. We do have a lot of out-of-town customers that come in and purchase the cheese.”
The cheese, of course, is one thing that attracts customers to the dairy. The other is a petting zoo featuring Watusi cattle, goats, donkeys, ostriches, deer, ducks, a tortoise and more. A large pond sits in the middle of the petting zoo, providing a serene spot to rest while the kiddos feed the animals.
Licon Dairy continues to expand its offerings: Licon opened a restaurant on the dairy grounds, the Outlaw Saloon & Grill, that features a wide selection of entrees featuring Licon Dairy items, as well as live music.