The Oldest Family-Owned Mexican Restaurant In The US! My Road Trip Across America Pt. 3! Welcome To Tucson’s El Charro Cafe! The Original Beef Taco Recipe!

It’s America’s Oldest Family-Run Mexican Restaurant – Celebrating 95 Years!

Talk about tradition! the El Charro Cafe in Tucson, Arizona has been making family-style mexican food since 1922 – longer than anyone else in the US!

Welcome to part three of my “road trip across America” – my son Jeff and I 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!

We perused the menu while sipping a great Margarita, along with some of their signature Queso dip!

As for out main course, 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!

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 then stuff into the 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 some music too!

As you know, this is just the beginning of out 2,200 mile cross-country trip that has already been full of great adventures, like our encounter with the “Arizona Dust Devils”:

They were everywhere, and I was lucky enough to capture one on video as it raced to the highway – you can see that video here:

And of course, I shared the mystery of “The Thing”!

You can see what we discovered at this roadside attraction by clicking here:

Next up on our adventure:


Categories: Awards, cookbooks, Exotic Travel, Food, food blog, Food Review, Memoirs, Recipes, Restaurants, Travel, Travel Adventures, Travel Memoir, Uncategorized, Wacky Food

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8 replies

  1. What fun John! And now I’m hungry for Mexican food! Looking forward to more of your cross country adventure!

  2. We don’t get very good Mexican food over here. It all looks and tastes the same. But I would definitely have joined you in one of those enchiladas, John.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  3. Oh I miss Mexican food. We have not found a good place to get it since we moved to Germany. Some places attempt what they call Mexican food, but it’s nothing like the real thing. Loved the pictures of the place.


  1. Visiting The Real Tombstone! The Truth Behind The Gunfight At The OK Corral! My Trip Across America Gets Violent! – johnrieber

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