USS TUCSON to carry
El Charro fare under the sea!
By Eric Van Meter - Inside Tucson Business
When Duane Baker eats at El Charro this September, he’ll be 400 feet
below sea level.
No, the Old Pueblo isn’t sinking into the sea.
But the USS Tucson will when it’s deployed next September. When the
fast-attack submarine takes the plunge, so will the “El Charro Down
Under,” the official name of the ship’s galley and yet another
indication that when it comes to fun and fine food for tourists, Tucson
does more than stay afloat.
According to Gloria
Parnes, chairperson of the USS Tucson Commission, the story is this:
Commander Duane M. Baker Jr. of the USS Tucson visited our shores last
April, and the Commission crew took the commander and company to El
Charro Café, 311 N. Court Ave., for an official “initiation to some fine
At half the size of a residential kitchen and stocking almost nothing
buy canned and frozen food, the El Charro Down Under will be a far cry
from its namesakes, but Ray Flores, an owner of El Charro Café, said the
galley christening is a “tremendous honor.”
Not all Tucson tourists can name parts of a U.S. ship as personal
souvenirs, but that hasn’t stopped Tucson visitors from pouring into El
Charro year after year.
Ray and Carlotta Flores bill their 80-year-old restaurant as the oldest
family-owned Mexican restaurant in the United States, one that owes
about 50 percent of its business to tourists who have been facing an
hour wait every night during Tucson’s busy winter / spring season to
sample the café’s fare, which Mr. Flores says is “adapted to the taste
of anybody throughout the world.”
“We’re heavy into veggies, soups, some beef, chicken, fish. Most People
think that Mexican restaurants feature a lot of meat, and really, it
isn’t a lot of meat; it’s mostly vegetables, but we just don’t stop and
think about that,” Mr. Flores said.
Right now, the restaurant business in Tucson, and all of Arizona is
“hopping,” according to Mr. Flores, who is also president of the Arizona
Restaurants Association. Even without the flood of Colorado Rockies
fans, most restaurants have noticed almost no difference because of so
much other activity, Mr. Flores said.
As temperatures climb to the 90s, Tucson’s restaurant business will fall
off, said Mr. Flores. But next year, every, hungry snowbirds can count
on Tucson for unique places to light.