‘You’re eating at our place’: Family-owned Peppers Cantina keeps the party going with expansion

Mexican food at Peppers Cantina, St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News

CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — Family-owned Peppers Cantina is celebrating 10 years of bringing quality Mexican food to St. George. Stop by for some classic favorites with a twist, like their signature chimichanga, and then cool off with a margarita or two, as Peppers also has a full liquor license.

Interior of Peppers Cantina in St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Peppers Cantina, St. George News

It’s all original at Peppers. Their salsa is chopped fresh daily. Tortillas, chile rellenos, tamales and chips are lovingly made from scratch. 

“At Peppers, we strive to make our food the best Mexican food in the world,” said Richard Rivera, who owns the restaurant with his wife, Jessica. 

Peppers will soon undergo renovation to create a separate lounge area for patrons aged 21 and over. With a pool table and large TVs mounted on the walls, Rivera said it will be a great place to catch up with friends and enjoy a few drinks or watch the game. 

They’ll also be improving the kitchen for the first time; however, the restaurant will remain open and fully accessible during the expansion. 

Mexican food at Peppers Cantina, St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News

When the Riveras took over Peppers in February 2011, it was a hole-in-the-wall Mexican-style diner. Within a year, they purchased the building and added 20 more seats. In 2017, they bought the salon next door and renovated it to add larger restrooms and more dining space.

“We’ve gone through several iterations of expansion and growth on the customer side,” Rivera said. “Now we’re adding to the kitchen with state-of-the-art refrigerators and other facilities we need to keep up with the crowds.” 

When renovations are complete in September, Peppers will be able to accommodate 204 patrons, with 160 seats on the family side and 42 seats in the lounge. 

‘It’s just a community thing’

Situated just off Interstate 15 near the Brigham Road exit, Peppers welcomes locals and hungry travelers from around the country – and the world – seven days a week. Rivera said the restaurant offers a fun, family-oriented atmosphere. Customers particularly like their oversized booths with high backs for privacy and added comfort. 

Rivera said the restaurant is limited on freezer space because everything is prepared on-site, and their produce is always fresh. Additionally, Peppers is one of few Certified Angus beef restaurants in St. George. 

“Over the years, our commitment to quality has never wavered,” he said. “The quality of our food, in good times and bad, will never be sacrificed.”  

Rivera said Peppers puts a spin on traditional enchiladas that customers love by not just serving them rolled but also offering a flat version. They offer one layer or two – red or green and mild, medium or spicy. And don’t forget to add an egg.

Interior of Peppers Cantina in St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Peppers Cantina, St. George News

Their generously sized street tacos are loaded with premium beef or chicken, all of which is butchered in-house and grilled fresh daily. Peppers also offers green plate options for customers who wish to substitute their rice and beans with a side salad. And all of their plates include chips and salsa, which is offered in mild, medium or spicy – or “lava,” but be careful about that one.

But the dish that really put Peppers on the map is their Beso Chimichanga – a choice of shredded chicken, beef, pork or chile verde rolled into two homemade raw flour tortillas then fried to perfection and smothered in red or green sauce. The Riveras created the recipe and have since trademarked it, along with the phrasing “How spicy are you?” They have also trademarked “All skinny, all the time” in reference to their margaritas.   

Although Peppers is his first restaurant, Rivera has worked in the food service industry for nearly 35 years. He spent his early career developing scheduling, ordering and point-of-sale systems for Taco Bell, then obtained a Master in Business Administration and became a consultant for casinos, hotels and restaurants. 

The Riveras have lived in St. George since 2005. When the Great Recession hit, they were faced with the choice of relocating to a larger city with more work opportunities or staying in the community where they wanted to raise their children and making the leap into a new business venture.  

A decade later, Peppers is thriving. Rivera, who lives just down the road in Bloomington, said he’s proud to call St. George home. He looks forward to serving up delicious food and great memories to all who visit the restaurant for years to come. 

“It’s just a community thing, and we really enjoy it,” he said. “When you come here, you’re eating at our place.”

Written by ALEXA MORGAN for St. George News.

• S P O N S O R E D   C O N T E N T •


  • Peppers Cantina | Address: 144 W. Brigham Road #2, St. George | Hours: Sunday-Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Thursday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. | Telephone: 435-628-4660 | Website.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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