Miguel's Mexican Food

Far more than just a restauranteur, Miguel Ribera was a beloved community leader with a passion for helping local Hispanic youth. Born in New Mexico in 1918, Ribera bought the restaurant at 1415 South Virginia Street from its previous owner, Maria de Flores, in 1959. She had opened the converted house as Casa de Flores in 1956, offering Spanish food well into the wee hours of the morning.

Ribera renamed the eatery Casa de Amor, or “House of Love,” switched the menu to Mexican cuisine, and announced it would be open 24 hours a day. The popular chef served as something of an ambassador of Mexican food to the eager local community. By 1961 “Chef Miguel” was making appearances at the Reno YMCA for demonstrations of “foreign cooking.”

Ribera’s wife, Maralyn, and their daughter Antonia also worked in the restaurant, which soon took on the popular chef’s name. The generous family provided scholarships to many of their employees, including a young Emma Sepulveda, who went on to become an accomplished writer and professor at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Ribera moved his restaurant to another location for a brief time in the seventies, and this space became the Jolly Roger and then The Cove. By 1980, it was back to Miguel’s Fine Mexican Food.

Miguel Ribera passed away in 1998. For his years of dedication to the community, the Miguel Ribera Family Resource Center at Pine Middle School and Miguel Ribera Park are both named after him. In 2001, Elmer and Adilia Figueroa bought Miguel’s, which they continued to operate under his name.

Images

Chef Miguel

Chef Miguel

Miguel Ribera in the kitchen at one of his Reno restaurants. Image courtesy of the Ribera family View File Details Page

Casa de Flores, 1956

Casa de Flores, 1956

Longtime restaurant host Al Baker fronted the Casa De Flores, which opened with Maria de Flores as chef in 1956. Image courtesy of Reno Evening Gazette View File Details Page

Street view ca. 1957

Street view ca. 1957

A view looking northward on South Virginia Street from Mt. Rose Street provides a glimpse of the Casa de Flores one door north of the Office Bar. The restaurant, purchased by Miguel Ribera in 1959, originated as a converted house, which remains the core of the building. | Creator: Nevada Department of Transportation View File Details Page

Casa de Amor, 1959

Casa de Amor, 1959

Chef Miguel Ribera ran the kitchen at the Casa de Amor, which he opened in 1959. He also ran La Cha Cha restaurant, then located at 145 West Third Street. Image courtesy of Nevada State Journal View File Details Page

Community leader

Community leader

Miguel Ribera was known for giving back to his community. Here, he attends the dedication of the park on Neil Road that was named for him. | Creator: Jean Dixon, Reno Gazette-Journal View File Details Page

Miguel's Fine Mexican Food, 2016

Miguel's Fine Mexican Food, 2016

The converted house at 1415 South Virginia Street has served as a restaurant since 1956. Several additions to the building have resulted in its current appearance. | Creator: Alicia Barber View File Details Page

Street Address:

1415 South Virginia Street, Reno, NV [map]

Cite this Page:

Alicia Barber, “Miguel's Mexican Food,” Reno Historical, accessed June 26, 2017, http://renohistorical.org/items/show/158.

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