My cover story this week focuses on Larry J. Cano, the founder of El Torito and one of the people I'm highlighting in my coming book about the history of Mexican cuisine in the United States. He truly is a pioneer in his field, but in researching the story, I was surprised at how much El Torito has shrunk, especially in comparison to its sister chain, Chevy's.
I've never eaten at Chevy's (OC's only location is in Anaheim Hills), but I know its history–founded in the San Francisco area in the mid-1980s as an alternative to El Torito and its Cal-Mex imitators. Chevy's was at the forefront of a new trend of Mexican dining: fresh-Mex, which promised healthier ingredients, a debatable legacy.
What's crazy, however, is that Chevy's is now the biggest brand for Real Mex, the Cypress-based company that owns it along with El Torito and Acapulco. And Real Mex is now ready to better whatever reputation Chevy's may have.
Restaurant News has the scoop; I will have more on this in my book. . . .