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Diving into the history of Mi Tierra, El Mercado at San Antonio's Market Square | Everything 210

It’s basically a party every weekend at Market Square. And it's been that way for centuries.

SAN ANTONIO — Many San Antonians say coming to Historic Market Square is like stepping into another world.

It started out as a place where vendors sold fresh produce, beef, wild turkeys, honey and of course, Texas pecans. At night, the famous "Chili Queens" would take over for the vendors and sell their steaming bowls of spicy chili.

Now, it’s basically a party every weekend at Market Square. But, it’s actually host to one of the biggest parties in San Antonio -- Fiesta. And that event is Fiesta de Los Reyes.

By the 1970's, the city closed off three blocks, and it transformed into what you see today -- a vibrant gathering place where you can shop for crafts, get a bite from street vendors or sit down for a meal at the iconic Mi Tierra.

And how the restaurant came to be is a story in itself

"It is the story of hard work, but it's also a love story. Mr. Pedro Cortez came to San Antonio in search of the American dream. There, he met this young lady, Cruz. They fell in love and got married with $150 and the recipes from their parents and grandparents," said Manager Gerardo Carvajal. "They started this restaurant, called Mi Tierra with three tables. Fast forward 80 years and we have close to one thousand seats and catered to everyone in town."

They have their mole with over 35 ingredients inside. And then their costillas, also known as ribs.

Credit: KENS 5
Credit: KENS 5

"If you would have walked in here back in 1941 and ordered the costillas plate, it would look exactly the same. It is prepared the same. We kept the artisan method of preparing these dishes," said Carvajal.

And when you decide you’re no longer full, which might take a good while, you can also support a local food stand. The churros aren’t hard to find as the smell of cinnamon floats around market square.

Credit: KENS 5

And then, you can get your shopping on at El Mercado.

"Being the largest Mexican market on this side of the North America -- that's one thing that we really push on here -- making sure that the visitors have a great feeling, great vibe, great experience," said El Mercado's Greg Pena.

Both locals and tourists can explore each vendor’s booth and grab everything from clothes, with many made in Mexico, to décor that represents Hispanic culture.

Pena's father worked at El Mercado. And now, he does too. 

"This is just something that's been engraved to a lot of the people of San Antonio that were from their grandparents bringing them out here to their children. Just goes down generation to generation," said Pena. 

So, if you’re looking to walk through literal history, and support locals who pave the way for future generations to come, click here.

"We are waiting for you and we have been here 80 years. This is our 80th anniversary. So, if you haven't been here, come over. We'd love to have you," said Carvajal. 

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