Gini’s Yaps – Restaurants on the Road | El Charro – Tucson


Gini is traveling with her Mother-in-Law and has a new column for us entitled, Restaurants on the Road.

She will share her insights into the dining experiences they have on the road from Los Angeles to Atlanta.

I can’t wait to see what she has to say, as always it will be entertaining.

Let us know what you think in the comments below. We always welcome your thoughts on our content.


Restaurants on the Road
By Gini Koch

El Charro – Tucson


Despite swearing that she never leaves the Manse, Gini’s on the road a lot, and she’s sending us down and dirty restaurant reviews from her latest trip.

El Charro, Tucson, AZ (
Type: Sonoran Mexican
Price: $$ out of $$$$$
Rating: 5 stars out of 5

“This is my favorite Mexican restaurant of all time.” Said by me, any time anyone with me in Tucson asks why we’re going to El Charro for the third night in a row.

I’m wary of Mexican food. I grew up in an agricultural county in Southern California, therefore I both grew up on Baja style Mexican food and learned how to make it properly. I now what I like, and I know how to tell if it’s as good as homemade, or better, or not.
Mexican food is hugely regional. Out of all the (many) regions available, I like three kinds: Baja, Tex-Mex, and Tucson Sonoran. And I didn’t know I liked Tucson Sonoran until I went to El Charro for the first time.

That was years ago, when I was first introduced to the love of my Mexican cuisine life and the Carne Seca Platter. When I lived in Phoenix I went down to Tucson a lot and, every time, I had to eat at El Charro at least once, preferably two or three times. I now live in the Greater Atlanta Metro Area and I still have my El Charro Loyalty card because I remain ever-loyal to this locally-owned, small family set of restaurants.

The food is delicious and authentic. The Downtown location is just shy of 100 years, is loaded with history, and has an amazing patio in addition to several “hidden” rooms that are great for medium-sized groups to dine in (my fave is the one for 8 that’s tucked away sort of behind what used to be a soda fountain section). The Ventana location is fashionable and feels more upscale, though the prices and menu are exactly the same. Both have the same great food and service. The chips are just right, the two kinds of salsa – regular and mild, for wimps like me – delicious. The menu is large and everything on it is good and always comes out properly.

My favorite is the carne seca but, as a warning, it’s not for everyone. Think of it as a juicier beef jerky and you’ll be close. Unless you’re a huge beef jerky fan (I am, and I prefer hard tack to that chewy stuff passing as jerky these days), or incredibly adventurous, start with something else – like the chimichangas or the enchiladas or the tamales or…well, anything on the menu, and try the carne seca off of someone else’s plate.

El Charro turned me into a Tucson Sonoran fan and I remain ever-loyal to the deliciousness. Other restaurants are suggested, and I’ll go, albeit unwillingly, but only as long as I’ve already had my El Charro Experience.

Definitely Try: Carne Seca (with the caveats noted above), Prickly Pear Margarita w/sugar rim, any Burrito Chimichanga Style, Enchiladas Banderas, Mariscos Seafood Enchiladas, Charro Style Beef Tacos

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