Tucson >Food & Dining > El Charro Cafe
311 N Court Ave, Tucson, AZ | Directions 8570132.225750 -110.974504
Monday To Thursday From 11:00 AM To 09:00 PM Friday To Saturday From 11:00 AM To 10:00 PM Sunday From 11:00 AM To 09:00 PM
Neighborhoods: Ward 1, El Presidio
absolutely the worst excuse for mexican food I have seen in a long time – horrible, abysmal
slow service. when it came, waitress screwed up both the drink and the food orders. when this was brought to her attention, all we received is a flippant response.
red sauce w/ the chips was like tomato soup.
chile relleno was uncooked.
what was supposed to be a chimichanga turned out to be a sodden, greasy mess.
spanish rice tasted like uncle ben's one minute w/ katchup mixed in.
MOST OVERRATED RESTAURANT IN HISTORY OF THE WORLD – I am so amazed that people still flock to this place. I hear it was a wonderful, authentic place when it first opened decades ago and I long for that experience. I have eaten here on 3 occasions - the first because of the self-perpetuating myth that it is THE place to have mexican food in Tucson. The other 2 times were in hopes of better experiences and unfortunately they did not tranpire. The icing on the cake was where the manager refused to strike the horrible margarita from my bill while stating "my bartenders do not make mistakes" or words to that effect. Plus, 2 ofr our guests got sick from the undercooked CARNE SECA. I am dead serious. The new owners (kids/family) have run this place into the ground and it is tragic. Anyplace would be better, including TACO BELL.
Worst restaurant experience ever! Save your money, go to Taco Bell instead! – Surprisingly, we only waited about 20 minutes to get a table on a Saturday night. Once we were seated however, things went downhill fast.
The first person we saw apparently only drops off chips and salsa. After several minutes, finally our waitress came by to take our drink order. Since we didn't have drinks, we didn't want to eat the chips and salsa, so we waited, and waited. Finally my friend was able to get the attention of the first girl again, and she brought us our drinks.
After several minutes, our waitress came back again to take our order. No apology for forgetting our drinks. When the food came out, we asked for drink refills, which we never got, and I discovered that the food I received was not what I ordered. When the waitress finally came back again, I reminded her about the drink refills, and asked about my food. She frowned and said, "I'll talk to the person who made it." Again, no apology. By this time my friend and my husband were halfway done with their meals, so I decided to just eat it, rather than making them wait for me while the kitchen remade my food. Still no drink refills, and as the waitress rushed by another time, she said I wouldn't have to pay for my food.
My friend had asked up front for separate checks, but when the waitress brought the bill, it was all on one. She had to ask again for separate checks, and we had to continue to wait. When we got the separated checks, I noticed I was being charged for the food I didn't order! When I finally got the attention of the waitress to ask her about it, she said that what she meant was that I wouldn't be charged for what I ordered, I would be charged for what the kitchen sent out instead!
To recap, we had to order our original drinks twice, the waitress forgot to bring refills after being asked twice, I received the wrong food, which I was charged full price for, and we had to ask twice for separate checks. To top it all off, the waitress was extremely rude!
Good Food, and a fun atmosphere, great service! – Decent if not a little bit bland food, but the rice and beans were great, and so was the service...We got in quickly with 2 people and it was a great experience. Food was good, but not the best, could use a little more seasoning, but very authentic and would reccommend!
EXTREMELY disappointed – After moving back to Tucson after 2 years away, I happily returned to El Charro. I was shocked at how poor my overall experience was. The host made us wait 30 minutes in the bar for our table, and then when we were ushered in, we were seated in a nearly empty restaurant. They do not allow you to transfer your drink check from the bar to the restaurant. The host was not at all personable or welcoming. He was blatantly rude to the servers as he sat us and said "sit there!" to us pointing to our table. We waited 15 minutes for our server to pay any attention to us, and when she did, she made no eye contact and acted as if we were holding her up. She barked twice at us that our food would be out soon. My husband's fish tacos were over cooked, and both of us felt we had had better quality Mexican food in many other sites around the city. When we were finished with our food, our server practically threw a box at us for our left overs. I heard many other tables rumbling about the poor service as well. On the upside, the girl serving the chips and water was very friendly and apologetic, and the site is in a nice area of the city and has a lot of history. I am very disappointed that such a well-known Tucson landmark would fall short in so many areas. I will never return.
El Chorro and Update: Terrible – Terrible!!! 20 minutes, no chips. Food was cold and there were flies all over the place near the windows and on our table. The server staff out numbered the customers. The other location is good but someone needs to do an intervention at the North location!
Update to original posting: I was contacted by the owner of the El Charro Cafe and he encouraged me to visit again. I did twice. Once at the original location on Court Ave and another trip to the Orange Grove location.
There is so much Tucson Hype about El Charro's Carne Seca I had to try it. I ordered it at the original Court Ave location for a business lunch. It was served piping hot but had a slight smell of decay in the reconstituted dried beef. It was ok but I did not enjoy it like I do at Maria Bonita Mexican Restaurant on Oracle.
2nd Chance at the Orange Grove Location ended up being a failure. This time I went in with my daughter and a girl friend visiting from Australia. Again the wait staff seemed to be confused and inefficient and could not deliver what we asked for. Chips arrived very quickly but they seated us right next to the kitchen door in a restaurant that was basically empty. No flies that I noticed this time but the chips were stale and just unappealing. Looks like they buy them from Tennessee.
We noticed another group of patrons at the next table were complaining to the manager and it seems to me that they are batting 1000 in the complaint department in the 3 times I have been to this location. The food was so wrong, I ordered my date a carne asada burro chimi style, fried and with sour creme etc. because she told me she doesn't like tortillas but got a plain white burrito anyway.
She also spaced out our request for another round of cocktails for about 10 minutes and dashed to the bar as she saw my hand go up to get her attention for the check and end our pain. The assistant manager checked on us and tried to explain the poor service but its too late, just shoot me!
This Old Pueblo institution has served authentic, homemade Mexican favorites since forever.
– The Scene
Operated by the same family since 1922, El Charro has become a local restaurant empire, with branches at the airport and on the east side at Broadway and Wilmot. Though nothing's like the original downtown location in the Old Presidio with its lovely patio dining and cantina bar. Toma!
Start with a cheese crisp, a kind of open quesadilla. Those favoring their carnivorous side love the air-dried carne seca, shredded beef enhanced by a delicious marinade of spices. Order the ever-popular chimichanga with the carne seca elegante-style (guacamole, sour cream and cheese) and you're in heaven. The cerveza chicken may not be traditional, but it's a new classic. A dish of Mexican chocolate ice cream, rich and creamy with cinnamon accents, is a delightful way to end the meal.
Nothing to write home about – I expected better. The food was plentiful, and our server was pleasant but overworked.
Mexican Food In Tucson – Excellent food, representative of authentic Mexican food without skipping on good ingredients. Take your time here, El Charro takes their time to make it right. Expect to pay a little extra for the good ingredients.
Overrated – Especially with a USA Today Top Five rating, I was expecting something a bit and beyond the ordinary. I didn't. The special on the menu was the Carne Seca, which was dried shredded meat. A lot of food, but not tasty enough to finish.
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