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FoodWho actually invented the chimichanga?

Reading Time: 3 mins

Posted on the 13 July 16

The chimichanga is the kind of dish that pushes temptation to the very limit.

It’s a rare instance of taking something that everyone thought couldn’t be improved, and doing their damned best to try and improve it.

After all, we’re talking about a deep-fried burrito here. Whoever applied that kind of bold, fearless creativity to something that everyone thought was perfect was nothing less than a culinary Columbus, a pioneer to take us to a brave new world of flavour.

The trouble is, no one really knows who this individual is. Like most legends, it’s origins are shrouded in mystery, the true answer lost in the annals of time.

But hey, let’s do a little digging around anyway, shall we?

It all started with a burrito

The aztecs of Mexico had long been wrapping meat and vegetables in corn tortillas as early as 7000BC, but the beany, cheesy, meaty, rice-filled classic we know today didn’t arrive until it crossed the border into the USA during the 19th century.

Since then, it has thrived as a popular street snack in Mexico and within Mexican communities within southern border towns of the USA.

But one day, the burrito had a delicious deep-fried makeover, and here is where it gets a little more complicated.

Arizona: Home of the Chimichanga

We might not know who exactly was the first to take the bold step of deep frying a burrito, but most of the claims originate within the state of Arizona.

It makes sense. After all, the state of Arizona is bursting with chimichanga vendors, to the point where there is actually a movement to make it the state’s official food. So who exactly is making the bold claim of having invented it?

First, there’s Woody Johnson, the owner of Macayo’s Mexican Kitchen in Phoenix,  who claims that he had been tinkering around in the kitchen in 1946 when he came up with the recipe.

Secondly, there’s Carlotta Flores at El Charro Cafe in Tucson. She is adamant that her great-aunt Monica Flin accidentally knocked a burrito into boiling lard in the early 1950s. She was about to swear, but youngers were present so all she could exclaim was ‘chimichanga’ (not unlike the word ‘thingimajig’).

These are the two most famous claims, but there are plenty of restaurants in Arizona that are trying to claim it too.

Luckily, we actually know the truth.

The truth about the chimi

The reality is, there can’t be an ‘inventor’ of a chimichanga really.

The burrito was such a delicious and popular street snack, there were probably hundreds of people who had given it a quick little fry to make it extra tasty.

After all, some ideas are so tempting, they occur to everyone at some point.

Especially the chimichanga, which is a taste experience like no other. If you fancy tasting the legend yourself, we serve up a deep-fried burrito like no one else can.

After all, we can’t prove that we invented it. But we’ve know we’ve perfected it, and that’s all that matters. Book a table and see for yourself.


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