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HISTORY

“EL CHARRO IS TUCSON”

¡Bienvenidos a El Charro Café!
Established in 1922 by our beloved Tia Monica Flin, El Charro Café of Tucson, Arizona is The Nation’s Oldest Mexican Restaurant in continuous operation by the same family. Our Tia Monica, a true entrepreneur and burgeoning chef, came to Tucson via France in the 1800’s when her father Jules, a famous stone-mason, was commissioned to build the city’s pristine St. Augustine Cathedral. Jules, whose signature work can be seen throughout Tucson’s Historic District, also built the families residence in 1896. This same building is now home to the Original Downtown El Charro Café location on Court Avenue.

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, our chef-author and great grandniece of Monica, carries on the tradition of Tia Monica! And while no longer a one woman operation, under her 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.

Featuring Sonoran and innovative Tucson-style Mexican food, El Charro has won the Tucson Lifestyle Reader’s Poll Gold Medal as Best Mexican Restaurant nine years in a row or since the award was began in the local lifestyle magazine and was named in 2010 as one of America’s Top 50 Restaurant Icons by Nation’s Restaurant News.

Chef Carlotta and family currently own and operate five Tucson-area locations, a full service catering division, and are the Official Mexican Food Restaurants of the UofA Wildcats. They are involved in countless charitable and non-profit efforts and believe that a business is only as good as what it gives back to its community.

The Home of the Chimichanga
Our Legendary Tia Monica Flin, is well-known as “The Inventor of The Chimichanga.” While frying her now famous El Charro ground beef tacos, she accidentally dropped a burro into the frying pan and when the oil splashed up she was about to lash out a common Spanish cuss word starting with “Ch” but because she was amongst her young nieces and nephews, changed it to “Chimichanga”, the equivalent of “thingamajig.” Thankfully for all of us, Monica was a controlled and creative cuss.

El Charro Café Below Sea Level!
El Charro was honored when the United States Navy named the galley on the U.S.S. Tucson Submarine as “El Charro Down Under.” Yes, you can eat at an El Charro at 1,000 feet below sea level, but you’ll need to enlist first!

What is a “Charro?”
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.

 
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