Happy 100th Birthday To El Charro!
Talk about tradition! the El Charro Cafe in Tucson, Arizona has been making family-style mexican food since 1922 – the oldest family-owned Mexican restaurant in the US!
The best part? I ate there – and my son Jeff experienced their truly unique taco!
It all began when Jeff and I were driving across the lower part of the US from Los Angeles to Atlanta – we wanted to taste the food that was unique to each area, and this place certainly fit the bill!
Meet Chef Tia Monica!
The El Charro cafe is a classic, for good reason! Here is how the restaurant’s website describes their history:
“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.”
As you can see, it’s a down-home comfortable vibe in a traditional setting, with lots of historical touches.
For example, there is a brick from the original family home on display at the restaurant!
This same building is now home to the Original Downtown El Charro Café location on Court Avenue – and that’s where Jeff and I ate our one night in Tucson!
Hmmm…a delicious Margarita followed by a VERY blurry photo…oh well, at least I captured a shot of the inside menu, which included the restaurant’s original creation:
The Original “Charro Style” Beef Taco!
I’ll show you this in a moment – their unique creation involves using a beef patty similar to a hamburger and folding it inside a taco!
First, their delicious Queso!
As for our main courses, we each went with a specialty item. I chose what was called “a enchilada the size of your face!” It was made with their signature spicy beef, and it didn’t disappoint on either count!
My son, however, went all in for the restaurant’s history!
The Original “Charro Style” Beef Taco!
Jeff went all the way back to the beginning – in 1922, Tia created their specialty taco, which is a beef patty cooked like a hamburger would be – then stuffed into the taco shell – along with peas, radishes and cheese! Here’s the menu again describing it, then a shot of the finished product:
So interesting to see peas and radishes on a taco, the beef patty buried underneath a salad-like top…Jeff loved it!
The other great thing about the restaurant is this – yes, it’s a tradition in most Mexican restaurants, and El Charro is no exception:
While my son Jeff browsed his phone, other tables were being serenaded by one of the staff:
The El Charro Cafe was great: delicious food, a great staff, and music too!
Happy 100th birthday to this classic restaurant!
This restaurant is located north of the Sonoran area of Mexico – and Linda Ronstadt wrote a book about her childhood nearby…so I made this tradition Sonoran cheese soup!
You can get that recipe here:
That was week #48 in my yearlong “52 In 22” cooking challenge, which was a lot of fun to do – I tried to make a wide variety of dishes that touched on unique flavors and cultures all around the world:
This Malaysian “Capela” Meatloaf was courtesy of the brilliant Fat Rice Cookbook – see the recipe that you will want to make by clicking on my story:
I also had a blast cooking these Japanese pub appetizers:
These unique finger foods were fun to make and delicious too!
Click here to see the recipes for all of them:
I also cooked a traditional Italian “Sunday Gravy”, with an interesting assist from Actor / Cookbook Author / Food Travel Host Stanley Tucci:
I learned a fascinating bit of information about how you are supposed to serve this dish, and you can see how I did by clicking on my story here:
I stored all 52 of these recipes on my food website “Bite! Eat! Repeat!” – it’s your site for all things food – if you like what you see, please click on my link and follow this blog as well!
Happy 100th Birthday to El Charro restaurant in Tucson Arizona – if you like this story, please share eon social media!
Categories: Alcohol And Bars, Bite Eat Swallow, Bite! Eat! Repeat!, Eat This!, Fine Dining, Food, Food Pictures, Food Porn, Food Travel, Recipes, Restaurants, Travel, Wacky Food, World's Wildest Food
I would have had the 3 beef tacos for $11.95. I have never had a real Mexican meal, only the London ‘versions’ that claim to be authentic. (I am convinced they are not.)
Best wishes, Pete.
Pete, I had read about the place, we ate there and loved it, and now they are 100 years old – bravo to them we should ALL be so lucky! Cheers!
I love the sound of this place, and its history. my sister lives not too far south of Tucson, and next time I visit her, I’ll take her here with me. wow, the original. your son is a food daredevil just like you. ole!
Beth, he is indeed! It’s a wonderful family restaurant with good food at fair prices!
Hi John, these beef tacos sound excellent.
They were Robbie and I was so happy to see they made it through the pandemic!