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El Charro

311 N. Court Ave., Tucson, AZ - (520) 622-1922
Posted By Steve Godwin on 5/6/2008 11:07:00 PM
In the old days, El Charro was one of the best places to go in Tucson for Mexican food. But not any more. The Flores family has evidently partnered up with The Metro Restaurant group and sadly, the food has lost a lot of its original flavor and has become much more mainstream American.

On a recent visit, we ordered a topopo - the signature salad - and the waiter asked if we wanted it with raspberry vinaigrette. That may sound just fine to anyone unfamiliar with Tucson cuisine, but for us locals, it's sacrilege. The salad itself was duded up with all kinds of things that no self-respecting topopo would be wearing, including some little deep-fried crisps that reminded one of the crispy noodles from Chun King chow mein (which were great, mind you -- but not here!). The salad tasted OK and the veggies were fresh, but it was more American than Mexican.

El Charro is fine if you're not looking for a great regional dining experience. But sadly, the new management is trying to make the old restaurant over into a dynasty by watering down the food, opening up more locations and becoming a "brand." They even have a toll-free number and sell space in their menus to advertisers.

There are so many better and cheaper Mexican restaurants in Tucson. Try El Torero, El Minuto, Casa Molina, or El Guero Canelo. For more upscale dining, you simply can't beat Cafe Poca Cosa.








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Scorecard

1 - Overall: Won't Eat Again
Overall: Won't Eat Again
Rate this place
Just looking at the picture of the beef taco makes me hungry for one of these all over again.
"Just looking at the picture of the beef taco makes me hungry for one of these all over again."
Anne Ritchings





El Charro's tortilla soup.
"El Charro's tortilla soup."
Michael Stern


This tamale trio was one of the best looking plates of food in recent memory.  From left to right, pork carnitas tamale, fresh corn tamale, and chicken tomatillo tamale.
"This tamale trio was one of the best looking plates of food in recent memory. From left to right, pork carnitas tamale, fresh corn tamale, and chicken tomatillo tamale."
Cliff Strutz


This delicious dried beef dish comes in a huge half-pound portion size.
"This delicious dried beef dish comes in a huge half-pound portion size."
Cliff Strutz


The albondigas soup features large meatballs, chiles, and lots of vegetables.
"The albondigas soup features large meatballs, chiles, and lots of vegetables."
Cliff Strutz


The Cabo soft tacos are delicious.  The chicken is tender, moist, and delicately flavored.
"The Cabo soft tacos are delicious. The chicken is tender, moist, and delicately flavored."
Anne Ritchings


This is part of a vibrantly colorful mural on the wall of the restaurant.
"This is part of a vibrantly colorful mural on the wall of the restaurant."
Anne Ritchings


Aside from great food, one thing that makes visiting El Charro so much fun is the fantastic sense of art and design that fill the restaurant.  Some of the art on the walls is the sort of dramatic image that also adorns El Charro's famous calendars.
"Aside from great food, one thing that makes visiting El Charro so much fun is the fantastic sense of art and design that fill the restaurant. Some of the art on the walls is the sort of dramatic image that also adorns El Charro's famous calendars."
Michael Stern


The image of the Virgin of Guadalupe is found throughout El Charro.
"The image of the Virgin of Guadalupe is found throughout El Charro. "Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe" is frequently shown with garlands of roses, and has become a powerful symbol of Mexican identity."
Michael Stern


These are just a few of El Charro's famous wall calendars.
"These are just a few of El Charro's famous wall calendars."
Anne Ritchings


There's no doubt that this is the place.
"There's no doubt that this is the place."
Anne Ritchings


The outdoor patio is an especially nice place to enjoy an El Charro feast.
"The outdoor patio is an especially nice place to enjoy an El Charro feast."
Michael Stern


In the evening, the outside patio is filled with tourists and locals enjoying margaritas and great Mexican-American food.
"In the evening, the outside patio is filled with tourists and locals enjoying margaritas and great Mexican-American food."
Anne Ritchings


El Charro has been a Tucson landmark since 1922.
"El Charro has been a Tucson landmark since 1922."
Michael Stern



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