The Globe-Miami area is legendary for its’ Mexican food There is even a Facebook page called I love Globe-Miami Mexican Food with a following of 1,381 members and counting. So what’s the magic all about? It can largely be found by tracing the roots of family recipes back to four sisters who, collectively, laid the foundation for generations of children and grand children to earn a living, send kids to college, and feed people comfort food which was both memorable – and affordable.
First came Josefina Rodriguez Picazo who came from the tiny town of Marfa, in western Texas. According to her obituary in the Arizona Republic in 2000 when she died at the age of 91, Picazo had been a child …when her father, who ran a small bar and restaurant, was shot and killed and the family lost everything. To help make ends meet, Picazo left school after the third grade. In 1924, the family moved to Miami, where Picazo helped her mother and sister run a boarding house in Turkey Shoot canyon, east of town.
When Picazo was 17, her mother arranged a marriage to a local tailor, who she considered something of a catch. It didn’t last long, though, and Picazo went to work, first for a doctor, then in the Woolworth’s store on Sullivan Street. She was determined to help her sisters in Mexico return to the United States and,in an attempt to earn more money, came to Phoenix for a while, working at the Boston Store on Washington and Second streets downtown. That didn’t lead to much, and she soon returned to Miami and in 1937 married Anselmo Picazo, a miner.
She got started in the restaurant business almost by accident, occasionally making enchiladas and other foods for a local doctor’s wife, who served them at her bridge parties. They were immensely popular, and her brother urged her to do something with her talent.
The beginning of an enterprise
She started by making tamales and burros at home and selling them door to door. When a small, affordable property on Sullivan Street became available, the Picazos snapped it up and got to work. A brother-in-law built six wooden booths, an order counter and set up a kitchen. With a $100 loan from John Lazovich, the owner of Real Market, and an arrangement to let the Picazos buy food on an as needed basis, the business was ready to go.
El Rey Cafe opened in 1939. With Picazo doing most of the cooking and other family members pitching in, the little cafe was soon bustling with business. They did so well that Anselmo quit his job at the mine and joined the restaurant.
By 1947 Josefina finally persuaded her two sisters to move fromMexico with their families to help in the growing restaurant business, but once here, they discovered there was not enough work to support all 18 nephew and nieces, plus the Picazo children.
Teaming up with the sisters
So the Picazos left the restaurant to the sisters: Pilar Esparza and Salustria Reynosa, and Josephine and Anselmo Picazo moved to Phoenix where they opened up La Palma.Although Josephine sold the LaPalma in 1957, she and her husband later opened Los Compadres in 1958 which become a Phoenix tradition which still continues today. It was the Picazo’s who introduced cheese crisps and mixed burritos to the Valley.
While it may have been Josephine, Pilar and Salustria who seeded the ground for all who came after them, you simply can’t remain in business for generations unless each of the generations are doing something very right in carrying on the elements which made the family recipes so memorable. The family businesses which have stemmed from these incredible women include 16 restaurants including (5) in the Valley, (6) here in Globe-Miami, and (5) in Show Low,Safford,Thatcher,Mammoth and San Manuel.
Quite a legacy from a woman who started out with nothing in a little town in west Texas.
Writer, photographer. Passionate foodie, lover of good books and storytelling. Lives in Globe. Plays in the historic district. Travels when possible.