It wouldn’t be El Mercado without Mi Tierra Café and Panadería. The iconic restaurant has served presidents, ambassadors, celebrities, local leaders and generations of families who established the area in the 19th Century.
On Thursday, the famous restaurant honored another key figure in the development of local culture, Bexar County Commissioner Paul Elizondo.
“You see my parents, Pedro y Cruz. That is the American Dream. That is a man that slept on the floor in Guadalajara, Jalisco, came to America because his great-aunt that is on the wall over there, brought him to America. They came to the Mercado and saw the beauty of the culture in San Antonio."
George Cortez and his family keep track of those who have made important contributions to the culture of the area by depicting them on the store’s colorful floor to ceiling mural. At a reception attended by civic leaders from around San Antonio, Mi Tierra owner Cortez unveiled the long-awaited mural of Elizondo.
"I’ll tell you that there’s been many a night where I’ve run into Paul here at the Mi Tierra late at night. And the stories of The Mercado – he needs to write a book. He’s got a great memory of all this beautiful culture," said Cortez.
Elizondo has been in public service all his life, first as a Marine, a teacher for 18 years, then he served in the Texas legislature and went on to the office of county commissioner, where he has remained since 1982. All the while, Elizondo has kept up his mariachi music, first teaching band and then playing for events all over town.
The paining by artist Robert Ytuarte depicts the commissioner in front of the historic Bexar County Courthouse and the new criminal justice tower named for him.