How many of us have pushed back from the dinner table and said, “Mama, you are such a great cook, we should open a restaurant”? Well in 1922 Alejandro Borquez said just that to his wife, Rosa, and then they did it. Their first location was a small storefront near the Coliseum in Los Angeles, and over the years five generations of the family have been employed and opened restaurants in six locations in southern California. Originally named The Sonora Café the restaurant’s name was changed when a diner sketched a figure of a man on one of the menus and called him “El Cholo”, the name given to field workers during that time. Alejandro loved it and immediately changed the name of the restaurant to El Cholo Café. Other dinner guests have also played a big part in the history of El Cholo. In 1926 George Salisbury met the Borquez’s daughter while dining in the restaurant. They married and opened their own Los Angeles café. One night in 1967 who else but another regular dinner guest said “Let me show you how to make a great margarita.” The rest is history. Be careful of the coconut margaritas – they are so delicious you forget that they are made with tequila – I can personally attest to that!
Employees have also made lasting contributions to the history of El Cholo. Joe Reina was hired as a dishwasher in 1932 and over the next fifty-four years moved up to the position of head chef. He became a legend and his recipes have influenced the Mexican restaurant culture in southern California and beyond. Since 1959 El Cholo has been famous for its nachos because of Carmen, one of the employees, who brought the recipes from her home town of San Antonio. “Carmen’s original nachos” is still on the menu. The award winning filet mignon tacos, specialty enchiladas and Molcajete style guacamole keep the regulars coming back. Congratulations to El Cholo for more than ninety years of success!
El Cholo Restaurant is moving to Corona Del Mar. They will occupy the former site of the Landmark Restaurant at 3520 East Pacific Coast Highway.
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