Miguel Ravago, the co-founder and chef of Austin’s renowned Mexican restaurant Fonda San Miguel, died on Saturday, June 24, at the age of 72. He and co-founder Tom Gilliland are credited with bringing truly interior Mexican fare into Austin with the Allandale restaurant. Ravago was diagnosed with lung cancer earlier this year. The restaurant will host a party in his honor on Sunday, July 2, at 5:30 p.m., after its Sunday brunch buffet.
Ravago was born in Phoenix, Arizona, where he often cooked with his grandmother, becoming familiar with the cooking styles of Veracruz and Sonora. He moved to Austin in 1968, when he met Gilliland. After stints at the Texas House of Representatives, they decided to open a Mexican restaurant in Houston, San Angel Inn, in 1972. It became so popular that they relocated to Austin for a larger space. That became Fonda San Miguel.
Ravago was also a cookbook author, collaborating with writer Marilyn Tausend for Cocina de la Familia, published in 1997. He followed that with the restaurant’s official cookbook, Fonda San Miguel: Thirty Years of Food and Art in 2005. That volume underwent an update in 2015.
Ravago eventually moved to Spain and then England with his partner and spouse, Phillipe Mercier, but he came back to Austin and Fonda often. He is survived by Mercier, his sister Betty, and numerous family members, and two chow chows, Dita and Digby.