El Charro Café

Established in 1922, El Charro Café of Tucson, Arizona is the nation's oldest Mexican restaurant in continuous operation by the same family. Features traditional Northern Mexico-Sonoran style and innovative Tucson-style Mexican Food.

Downtown Tucson
311 N Court Ave
Tucson, AZ 85701

Oro Valley 
7725 N Oracle Rd
Oro Valley, AZ 85704

6910 E Sunrise
Tucson, AZ 85750

Cultural Narrative: 

El Charro Cafe was founded by "Tia Monica," who came to Tucson from France in the 1800s with her father Jules, who was commissioned to build Tucson's St. Augustine Cathedral. Jules built the historic building known as the Original Downtown El Charro Cafe on Court Avenue. 

One of El Charro's most famous dishes is their carne seca chimichanga. The dish contains beef that is marinated and then dried in the hot Arizona sun. The meat is then cooked with tomato, green chile, and onion. 

El Charro has an inventive menu that blends Mexican and American recipes. They are known for their chimichangas, sun-dried carne seca, and topopo salad. They also specialize in homemade salsa and Mexican desserts. 

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 begun in the local lifestyle magazine and was named in 2010 as one of America’s Top 50 Restaurant Icons by Nation’s Restaurant News. View the full Historypin here


Traditional Knowledge: 

"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."

[Tia Monica Flin is pictured next to her great-grandniece, Carlotta Flores, now the chef of El Charro Café]