‘Mexican Restaurants and the American Dream’

Juan Uribe with Fruteria San Sebastian in San Antonio. Photo contributed by Imanol Miranda

I’m a fried chicken snob, and I blame my parents for that. Growing up, I often hung out after school or on weekends at my parents’ fried chicken restaurants in and around Eagle Pass. At different points over the years, they ran restaurants on both sides of the Texas-Mexico border. Whiffs of grease still take me back to those days of making fried chicken deliveries with my mother out in the Mexican countryside.

I didn’t realize it back then, but I was watching as my immigrant parents achieved their American dream.

For McAllen-based photographer Imanol Miranda, the stories of the people who run Mexican restaurants, food trucks, food stands and taquerias in the United States illuminate a uniquely human side of the nation’s immigration debate.

Miranda traveled across Texas, from the Rio Grande Valley to Plano, capturing the life of these entrepreneurs, each of whom has diverse ideas of what the American Dream means. In Austin, he featured the people behind restaurants such as La Catedral del Marisco Orgullo de Bejucos (The Seafood Cathedral Pride of Bejucos), a reference to a small town in the state of Mexico that has a long history of immigration ties to Austin.

Yolanda Guerrero with Tacos Guerrero in Austin. Photo contributed by Imanol Miranda.

Miranda’s images will be featured in the photography exhibit, “Mexican Restaurants and the American Dream,” in the Community Gallery of the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center. The opening reception at 7 p.m. Friday will also coincide with the opening of “El Jardín of Earthly Delights,” which highlights paintings by Jaime Arredondo in the Sam Z. Coronado Gallery. Both exhibits run through April 2.

“My family always had family-run businesses including a small grocery shop in Acapulco, Guerrero,” Miranda recently told AP Films. “As a kid I remember delivering sandwiches on foot to our neighbors…” His childhood experiences have not only helped him appreciate small, family-run businesses, but they’ve also inspired him to bring to life the often untold stories of the people who run them.

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