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Posted by on Jun 23, 2020 in TellMeWhy |

Who Made the First Chimichanga?

Who Made the First Chimichanga?

Chimichanga, or “chimi” is a Mexican-American fusion deep-fried large burrito that is common in Tex-Mex and other Southwestern U.S. cuisine. The dish is typically prepared by filling a flour tortilla with various ingredients, most commonly rice, cheese, beans, and a meat such as machaca (dried meat), carne adobada (marinated meat), carne seca (dried beef), or shredded chicken, and folding it into a rectangular package. It is then deep-fried, and can be accompanied by salsa, guacamole, sour cream, or carne asada.

The southwest is well known for its delicious Mexican food, and the residents of Tucson, Arizona, boldly proclaim their city the “Mexican food Capital of the U.S.”  The city has its own version of Tex-Mex food, which it calls Arizona-Sonoran Cuisine.  Because southern Arizona was once part of the Mexican state of Sonora, this style is considered the “soul food” of Arizona.

Culinary historians and Arizona restaurants argue about exactly where and who invented the Chimichanga.  Two Tucson restaurants claim bragging rights to creating the first Chimichanga.

1922 – El Charro Cafe – Tucson, Arizona – Family legend say that Monica Flin, who started the restaurant in 1922, cussed in the kitchen when a burrito flipped into the deep fryer.  Because young nieces and nephews were in the kitchen with her, she changed the swear word to “chimichanga,” the Spanish equivalent of “thingamagig.”  

1946 – Macayo’s Mexican Restaurant – Phoenix, Arizona –  They insist that Woody Johnson created the chimichanga in 1946 when he deep-fried unsold burros to serve the following day.  It is said, that he would put unsold burritos into the deep fryer and sell them as “toasted monkeys.”  They came to the conclusion that chimichanga means toasted monkey.  When a chimichanga went through the deep-fryer, it would become golden-brown.  This color resembled a toasted monkey.

2011 – Both restaurant owners agreed that the dish should be made official.  The restaurants’ joint effort to garner 5,000 signatures before sending it off to the state legislature has already accumulated more than 2,200 signees, according to the official website.  To present date, the bill has not been passed.

Content for this question contributed by Seth Kopchak, resident of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, USA