Su Casa

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The motto "Mi Casa, Su Casa" is emblazoned on a wood shingle behind the bar, and when San Antonio native Ike Sewell -- founder of Chicago's Pizzeria Uno and acclaimed inventor of deep-dish pizza -- opened Su Casa in 1963, south-of-the-border hospitality was his intent. "The words 'su casa' mean 'your house,' and we try to abide by it," said general manager Minda Trejo. "He loved Mexican food and Mexican people. He was a people-person for sure." Su Casa has "all the traditional dishes," Trejo said, as well as Mexican decor galore: pinatas, wooden wall frescoes and statues, religious icons and paintings, faux balconies and doorways and hanging baskets of colorful (silk) flowers. A nifty stained glass design makes up one wall of the foyer. A small bar with four booths separates two dining rooms, the westernmost room a smaller, five-table set-up that is used for parties and as a nonsmoking section. The back bar is worth investigation, laid with varied tile fragments and colored pebbles and decorated with bowls and symbolic artifacts, busts and figurines. The television propped in a corner seems to favor ESPN or Telemundo. Local businesspersons and residents -- and occasionally Florence Sewell (Ike's widow, who celebrated her 94th birthday here June 4, 1996) have been the staple of this casual eatery. "We've seen children here who now come in with their own children," Trejo said. "It's a Mexican hacienda. That's how we like to think of it."