EL CENTRO — Roberto Perez’ proposal for marriage to Rina was met with a counter-proposal to open a dream Mexican restaurant. And so was born “Antojitos Como En Casa” restaurant in the heart of El Centro on Dec. 1, 2007.
During that time Roberto had prepared a dish for Rina. The taste of the dish reminded Rina of her roots in Acapulco, Mexico where her parents were accomplished cooks. According to Rina, Roberto’s parents were also good cooks. The similarities in their families’ culinary history further inspired Rina’s dream of opening a restaurant.
Rina said Roberto’s style of preparing food is like home and is similar to her family. “He cooked really good.”
During that time, Rina was working as a broadcast journalist and owned a mini market. They married and resided in San Diego. However, the opportunity to open a restaurant occurred when a location opened on Desert Gardens and Fourth Street in El Centro. It was a small location. The weekly commute between San Diego and El Centro took its toll and the new couple eventually moved back to Imperial Valley.
Rina told Roberto, “Why not open a restaurant because we want to bring our culture to the United States with real Mexican food.”
Roberto, who is from Calexico, and Rina, named the restaurant Antojitos Como En Casa. She said it means, “You eat like at home.” It was a concept of bringing together the culinary skills of both of their parents and serving these meals here in the U.S.A.
“We have traditional Mexican recipes. We eat like that at home,” Rina said.
Rina speaks highly of Roberto, who was not at the interview with The Desert Review. “He works like three persons. He is a good provider. He loves us a lot.”
Instead of revealing the secret ingredients of their menu, Rina said with a glint in her eyes, “The secret of my food is love.” It was of course primarily his love for Rina. “He loves what he does. He wakes up every morning and prepares the menu.”
While customers like the menu, there are three dishes that stand out among the favorites: Mixiote de Borrego (lamb shanks) which is served only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays; Chilaquiles solos o con Pechuga de Pollo o Dos Hueveos —a selection of Chilaquiles alone or Chilaquiles with chicken breast or with two eggs; and Pozole de Puerco —stewed corn with pork.
According to Rina, the business has its setbacks and successes. However, the husband and wife team attribute their success to God. Their business card has a quote, in Spanish, from the Scriptures. “Todo lo puedo en Cristo que me fortalece. Fil.4:13. Bendiciones.” (“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 Blessings.”)
The restaurant is located at 425 Desert Gardens Dr #C in El Centro, CA.