I love Avanti Cafe in Costa Mesa for its vegetarian-vegan treats, so the following question from server Dion surprised me:
Where can I get a good chimichanga?
Being Hispanic Heritage Month is o-vah tomorrow, what better way to end my recent run of Latino-themed questions than with a treatise on this wholly American dish?
Yes, cabrones: the chimichanga is as Mexican as Tex-Mex, which is to say it's too Mexican for Americans and too Americans for Mexicans. El Charro Cafe in Tucson, the oldest continuously operating Mexican restaurant in the United States, claims to have invented the dish, telling a totally apocryphal tale that the founder of the restaurant accidentally dropped a burrito (called “burro” in Tucson to this day) in the fryer and yelled out “chimichanga” instead of cursing in front of her kiddies. The problem with this story is that Mexican mamis are more than happy to curse in front of their progeny. What is indisputable is that the chimichanga was born somewhere between Tucson and Sonora, the historical heart of flour tortilla country, and the direct ancestor of California-Mexican cuisine.
As a result, you want to get your chimichangas at your older, non-Mexican Mexican establishments like Casa Gamino in Anaheim or even the Little Onion in SanTana. But the best county chimichangas are at that old Sonoran warhorse, Los Sanchez in Garden Grove. I liked it better at its old location, but you can still get their fried monster, flaky and golden, bloated with the meat of your choice, from a menu that hasn't changed since the days of Jimmy Utt–and if you don't get that reference, gentle readers, read the rest of this rag a bit more!
Los Sanchez, 11906 Garden Grove Blvd.,
(714) 590-9300; www.lossanchez.com
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