Hispanic Heritage Month highlight: El Sombrero Mexican restaurant

RAPID CITY, S.D. — Hispanic Heritage Month started as a week established in 1968 by then-President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Hispanic Heritage MonthPresident Reagan extended it to a month in 1988, coinciding with the anniversaries of several Latin American countries’ independence.

According to the 2019 census, the Hispanic population accounted for almost 20 percent of the United States population, making it the largest racial minority in the country.

And though it is the opposite for Rapid City, families keep their heritage alive, like Jorge Mata.

Mata first moved to the city around the age of four, and has called the area his home ever since.

“It’s a small town,” he described. “I grew up here and it just feels like home for me, too.”

Mata is the owner of El Sombrero Mexican restaurant off East North Street. The restaurant serves authentic Mexican dishes made with assistance from family recipes.

His step-father was the owner of La Costa Mexican Restaurant in the late 1990’s. More locations were added later. The restaurant was eventually purchased by Mata’s uncle.

However, the locations closed down due to the pandemic.

Mata decided to pursue his own venture in 2018.

“It’s a family-operated restaurant. My family and I used to work here, and we kind of did our own thing,” he explained. “It went up for sale in July of 2018. That’s when I talked to my family about coming back and decided to go for it.”

His restaurant serves those looking to experience a different culture. And as years pass, the Hispanic population continues to grow.

“Every year it’s growing,” Abel Diaz, a server at the restaurant stated. “We see more people coming from out of state. A majority of them establish a home, and have a family. And they become regulars here as well.”

El Sombrero is open 11-9 p.m., with 11-7 hours on Sundays.

To learn more information on Hispanic Heritage Month, go to www.hispanicheritagemonth.gov.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News