Rosario Sotelo discovered her love for food and cooking at a young age. Growing up in Guerrero, Mexico, she remembers watching her caretakers prepare authentic Mexican food for her family. Rosario fell in love with the way that food brought people together. She especially fell in love with el borrego, which translates to lamb in english, because it is a dish meant for celebration and bringing family together.
By I Am An Immigrant
Today, Rosario, along with her daughter, Rodnia, share the power of unity through food as the heart and soul of a small family owned restaurant in San Diego that specializes in el borrego.
Eighteen years ago, Rosario moved to San Diego to be reunited with her family. After moving to San Diego, however, Rosario realized that there was a lack of authentic Mexican food in her community, City Heights. Rosario Sotelo saw this as an opportunity to share her Mexican heritage and unite her community. She proposed to her family that they open their own store on the weekend to sell authentic Mexican food, specifically lamb, in the City Heights community. Rosario wanted to focus on lamb because there was no authentic Mexican style lamb available at the time and because lamb is a symbol of celebration and unity. Thus was the beginning of El Borrego.
El Borrego started from modest beginnings. “We begin selling lamb tacos on the weekends from 8am – 2pm on a driveway under a tent with three folding tables. It was a great success. Just three months later we were buying 500-600 pounds of lamb and our customers were spreading the word of our authentic Mexican food to all of their friends and family.” In just three months El Borrego became a vital part of the community. “That’s when we decided to open El Borrego the Restaurant. We wanted to be able to continue sharing our heritage and expressing our gratitude for our community’s support by spreading our success to the community.”
Rosario and Rodnia aim to uplift and enrich their community with El Borrego. “We believe and have faith in City Heights. Fifteen years ago, not that many people came to City Heights, but today more and more people are coming to the neighborhood.” Therefore, Rosario and Rodnia continue to support City Heights growth through creating economic opportunities that will further boost the infrastructure of their community. If El Borrego thrives the community thrives and if the community thrives El Borrego thrives. This is evident in El Borrego’s growth. At first El Borrego was just a small tent on a driveaway, but as City Heights grew so did El Borrego. In such a short time period El Borrego became an essential community member that provides a place for people from all over to connect regardless of their background.