El Charro Steakhouse to open in March in Downtown Tucson

February 22, 2016

The flan trio. Mouth watering yet? Photo: Charro Steaks

The flan trio. Mouth watering yet? Photo: Charro Steaks

by Liz Felix

The El Charro name has become synonymous with the Tucson food scene. “Where should we take Aunt Carol for some authentic Mexican food?”

Without question, El Charro Cafe usually makes the list of must visit restaurants for out-of-towners, but it’s got a strong hold on Tucson natives too. There’s a reason why El Charro Cafe has been around since 1922. They know what they’re doing and they do it well.

Now, the El Charro family is looking to expand on their brand with their new restaurant, Charro Steaks, a steakhouse with a Sonoran twist opening soon in the heart of Downtown Tucson.

The idea of opening up a steak house wasn’t a new one for the El Charro family. It started back in the 1940’s when they opened a location near Casa Grande. Initially, the hope was to include steak on the menu, but the plan didn’t work out and the location eventually closed. But the idea wouldn’t die there.

Charro Steaks' all natural bone in pork shank with green apple-jalapeno slaw. Photo: Charro Steaks

Charro Steaks’ all natural bone in pork shank with green apple-jalapeno slaw. Photo: Charro Steaks

“We thought it would be cool to bring back the concept of charro and steaks,” says El Charro President Ray Flores Jr. “It seemed like something we could love and that’s the key to what we do, there has to be something we love about it!”

When the location, previously occupied by Barrio Cuisine, on Broadway and 5th became available, the Flores family quickly saw an opportunity to bring their vision of a steakhouse to a familiar neighborhood, Downtown Tucson.

“There’s always a ‘What’s next’ discussion among our family and this one was the one that made the best sense … due to all of the new stuff going on Downtown, including the hotel that will be opening across the street from us in a year or so,” says Flores Jr. “It’s also on Broadway which is where one of the first El Charro locations resided.”

Just as it is with every business, the Flores family is well aware of the competition around town for a great steak, but Ray Flores Jr. says Charro Steaks will be serving up something different that’s rooted in their culinary heritage.

“I can say that it won’t be a Fleming’s or Sullivan’s, that’s not who we are,” says Flores Jr.

The Sonora/Tucson inspired menu will feature mesquite and pecan wood-fired proteins like carne asada, T-Bones, and pork chops that will incorporate Chef Carlotta Flores’ signature seasonings and flavors. Utilizing the practices from the popular food movement of “ranch-to-table,” Charro Steaks’ proteins will also come from various local sources that provide 100% grass-fed beef, cage-free chicken and sustainable seafood.

Tajin dusted jumbo shrimp cocktail. Photo: Charro Steaks

Tajin dusted jumbo shrimp cocktail. Photo: Charro Steaks

Some El Charro favorites, like the famous carne seca, housemade gluten-free enchilada sauce, and tamales, will make the Charro Steak menu but will be applied and prepared differently. In keeping with Tucson’s growing craft beer scene, Charro Steaks will also offer locally crafted beers including a selection of mezcals, tequilas, agua frescas and wine.

Expect a bit of a makeover when stepping into Downtown’s newest steakhouse. Flores says they’ll be building a bar in the corner of the space on Broadway and Fifth “so the guest can see the world go by.”

The interior will be dedicated to the horsemen who inspired Chef Carlotta’s Great Tia Monica to name their now famous restaurant, El Charro back in 1922.

“We are going to showcase some of the art and details of the charro/charreria culture, the romantic horseman and official sport of Mexico,” says Flores Jr.

Despite Downtown’s ups and downs, Flores Jr. is proud of his family’s long history in the Old Pueblo and looks forward in continuing its legacy.

“El Charro is proud to have been the one restaurant that kept its light on Downtown while everyone else moved or shuttered, and now that we are doing something new, we want to be part of the new future of Downtown,” says Flores Jr.

Charro Steaks will definitely be bringing a new flavor to Downtown Tucson, but they’ll also be creating jobs,  and are looking to hire upwards of 50 new people including local trades people, artists and vendors. Charro Steak is targeting a mid-March opening that Flores says will be accompanied by special events.  

To stay up-to-date on Charro Steaks, make sure to like their Facebook page here or for more information on their job openings, visit charrosteaks.com/jobs