Miguel Unzueta, patriarch of Caballo Blanco restaurant, dies at age 88

A staple of Mexican food in south Sacramento has lost its patriarch, Miguel Unzueta, the owner and founder of Caballo Blanco restaurant. He died Friday at age 88.

Caballo Blanco has operated ay Franklin Boulevard and Fruitridge Road for 53 years. It is known for starting each meal with a complimentary bowl of caldito soup and fried tortilla chips. The restaurant has become a signature Mexican eatery over the years with its long-running and little-changed menu of traditional dishes.

Unzueta entered the United States under the bracero program, a series of agreements between the United States and Mexico from 1942 to 1967 to allow guest workers from Mexico to offset labor shortages in the United States following World War II.

He founded Caballo Blanco in 1961. Its original recipes were developed by the former chef of El Jacalito, a long-gone local Mexican restaurant.

Unzueta was known for his love of horses, hence the restaurant name of Caballo Blanco, which translates to “white horse.”

“When I started ... I knew nothing about restaurants,” Unzueta told The Bee in 2011. “I never even washed a spoon. But you know why I’m in a restaurant? Because if you make it, you will have something for your kids – and their stomachs will always be full.”

Two of Unzueta’s sons, Ruben and Roy, run Caballo Blanco’s day-to-day operations.

Check back soon on for more information about Unzueta’s life and upcoming services.