On South Leona
38 years after founding the world-famous Mi Tierra Café & Bakery, Pedro and Cruz Cortez opened their second restaurant, La Carreta Mexican Steak House, on South Leona Street — just two blocks away from Historic Market Square.
In 1991, their sons, Jorge and David Cortez, remodeled and rebranded it as Restaurante Pico de Gallo, which became a popular spot for locals, famed for its savory parrilladas (barbecued meats). The two were subsequently recognized by the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for their efforts to preserve and enrich the city’s historic and culinary culture.
Today, La Familia Cortez Restaurants (now comprised of five destination eateries) serve nearly 40,000 hungry guests combined, every week.
Pedro Cortez purchases La Jamaica No. 5, a three-table café in the heart of El Mercado for $150.
Pedro installs an air conditioning system in the café and advertises it on all his windows.
Pedro purchases the Toyo Café and renames it Mi Tierra Café.
Pedro buys the property next to Mi Tierra and adds a bakery.
Pedro and Cruz buy the entire block of El Mercado.
The Federal Urban Renewal Agency comes sweeping through the west end of downtown.
Pedro becomes a strong activist for Market Square and the community.
Pedro closes Jamaica No. 5 and works hard on reviving and repositioning Mi Tierra to maximize its full potential.
Market Square undergoes a major multi-million-dollar renovation.
Pedro and Cruz open a second restaurant, La Carreta Mexican Steakhouse.
Pedro is recognized by the National Economic Development Association for the instrumental role he played in the revitalization of Market Square.
The Cortez Family opens La Margarita Restaurant and Oyster Bar, offering “Sizzling Fajitas” and seafood.
The family is deeply saddened by Pedro’s untimely death.
Mi Tierra Café y Panadería’ s newest addition, the Mariachi Bar, opens in the space next to Mi Tierra.
The Cortez Family hires artist Jesus Garza to create an indoor floor to ceiling fresco on the walls of Mi Tierra that commemorates Mexican culture and history.
La Carreta is remodeled and rebranded to Restaurante Pico de Gallo.
Mi Tierra proudly completes a $750,000 renovation on its kitchen without closing the restaurant for even an hour.
Pedro Cortez is inducted into the San Antonio Business Hall of Fame.
The Senate of the State of Texas recognizes Pedro and Cruz Cortez as exemplary citizens of their city and the state of Texas.
Pedro and Cruz receive the Henry Guerra Lifetime Achievement Award from the San Antonio Association of Hispanic Journalists (SAAHJ).
Pedro is posthumously honored as the recipient of the National Conference for Community and Justice Humanitarian Award.
The Ecumenical Center for Education Counseling Health honors La Familia Cortez with the San Antonio Ethics in Business Award.
The Cortez Family is honored by the Mexican American Unity Council, Inc. with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
La Familia Cortez is honored at the 9th Annual American Sunrise Gala.
La Familia Cortez opens its latest concept, Viva Villa Taquería, under the management of Chef Cariño Cortez, Pedro’s granddaughter.
La Familia Cortez receives the Exitos en Nuestro Barrio Business Award from The Westside Development Corporation.
La Familia Cortez marks its 75th Anniversary.
When Pedro Cortez founded Mi Tierra in 1941, he was passionate about the need to preserve San Antonio’s Mexican culture. Since his passing in 1984, the Cortez family has championed the redevelopment of the west end of downtown into a “Zona Cultural,” San Antonio’s own version of the bustling Zona Rosa district in Mexico City.
The Cortez family strongly believes that public art is one of the most important ways to communicate our past, present, and future. Their latest contribution is the Celebración a Mi Madre (Celebration to My Mother) mural, which honors Ms. Rosie Castro, mother of former Mayor Julián and Congressman Joaquín Castro, and all Mexican-American mothers in San Antonio. Painted in oil by artist Armando Sánchez, the boldly colorful 33 foot mural adorns the interior of Restaurante Pico de Gallo in celebration of our Hispanic culture. Each of the individuals depicted is a leader in our community in the arts, medical, and educational fields, representing “Lo Mejor de lo Nuestro.”
Celebración a Mi Madre by Artist Armando Sánchez
San Antonio native Armando Sánchez has been painting the city’s people and landscapes for the past 30 years. Channeling his Chicano and Tex-Mex roots, the prolific painter skillfully captures the drama and energy of Mexican traditions and history in a vibrant style that’s become his signature. His portrait of Mexican revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata has become a focal point of the Cortez family landmark, Mi Tierra Café & Bakery. A master of multiple mediums, Sanchez is renowned for his watercolors depicting Mexican-American culture. His works are included in the personal collections of Jose Feliciano, Cheech Marin, Mick Jagger, and the University of Texas System Chancellor, Mark Yudof. The University of Texas at San Antonio has also selected a diverse array of his paintings for their collection of prominent South Texas artists.