El Charro Café

7725 N Oracle Rd 101

Visit Tucson
Written By Visit Tucson

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Established in 1922, Tucson's El Charro Café is The Nation's Oldest Mexican Restaurant in continuous operation by the same family. In 2008, Gourmet Magazine dubbed it "One of America's 21 Most Legendary Restaurants". Often imitated but never duplicated, dining at the original El Charro in the heart of Downtown Tucson is a culinary experience unlike any other.

The word “Charro” is “a name given to the peasants of the province of Salamanca.” This word was adapted in 1857 and applied in Mexico to good, able horsemen, recognized by the costume or uniform they wear, especially the high-crowned, wide brimmed hat.

The Story of the Chimichanga

El Charro was founded by the legendary Monica Flin, who is well-known as “The Inventor of The Chimichanga.” As the story goes, Monica was frying her now famous El Charro ground beef tacos when she accidentally dropped a burrito into the frying pan. When the oil splashed up she was about to yell out a common Spanish cuss word starting with “Ch” but because she was amongst her young nieces and nephews she changed it to “Chimichanga,” the equivalent of “thingamajig” and the now ubiquitous dish was born.

Back in those days, a woman-owned business was rare enough, but El Charro was even more unique as it was truly a one-woman operation, with Monica acting as hostess, waitress and chef all at the same time. Today, Carlotta Flores, chef/author and great grandniece of Monica, carries on the tradition. And while no longer a one woman operation, under Carlotta's guidance El Charro has become one of the most critically acclaimed restaurant brands in the USA with features in Bon Appétit, Gourmet Magazine, USA Today, The NBC Today Show, Parade Magazine, the NY and LA Times and most recently; The NY Post.

El Charro now has multiple locations, including two in Tucson and one in Oro Valley. There's even an El Charro inside Tucson International Airport so you can get a taste of Tucson's original Mexican restaurant as soon as you arrive or right before you leave! Click the link below to learn more about the history and find hours and locations.

Experience Authentic Mexican Food at its Finest
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Cover image source: @elcharro.cafe on Instagram

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