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Ron salisbury

We are El Cholo

LA's very first Mexican restaurant. Since first opening our doors in 1923, El Cholo has operated as a family-owned business and today, the restaurants are run by Ron Salisbury, grandson of the founders. Many of these stories below are direct from Ron and a remembrance to the time of surviving as a restaurant for over 96 years. Our legacy at El Cholo lies in its commitment to quality ingredients, long family history, loyal employees (some with us nearly 40 years) and our dear devoted clientele. Through prohibition, the LA Riots, true Hollywood glamour and into the the 2000's, El Cholo continues to bring back memories for our guests. Enjoy our stories, dive deep into our rich history and share your stories with us by emailing us at stories@elcholo.com!

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1920

1920s: NEW BEGINNINGS

My Dad and Mom opened in a storefront at 1106 Western Avenue. They had five wooden booths against the left wall when you entered and a counter on...
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1923: Sonora Enchilada
1923: Sonora Enchilada

First enchilada served at El Cholo. This dish was a very typical dish from Sonora, Mexico.

1923: HARD WORKING COUPLE:

A young hard-working couple, Alejandro and Rosa Borquez recognized the passion Rosa had for cooking.  She put care and attention to her reci...
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1925: WHY EL CHOLO?

A guest wandered in for dinner and while waiting, he draws a figure of a man on the menu and calls him “EL CHOLO”.  In those day...
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1926: CHEESE!

Rosa’s dedication to using the best cheese forced Rosa and Alejandro to buy 60 pound cheese wheels and age them for at least a year. We sti...
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1927: Historical Information

Historical Information Charles Lindburgh crosses the Atlantic and Babe Ruth hits his 60th home run!

1926-1927: TWO GENERATIONS

George Salisbury was eating dinner at EL CHOLO and meets Aurelia Borquez. the daughter of Alejandro and Rosa. They court, decide to marry and ope...
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1930

1930s: NEVER DOUBT YOURSELF

In 1931 a California bungalow house across Western Avenue at 1121 became available and against the advice of almost everyone my Dad bought it and...
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1931: El Cholo moves

El Cholo moves across the street to it’s current location. After moving to this location, George has to invest in a new mechanism to melt h...
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1933: Third generation
1933: Third generation

Ron Salisbury was born

1933: Prohibition ends
1933: Prohibition ends

and beer and wine found their way on the menu

1938: Combination plates
1938: Combination plates

Combination plates appear on the menu for the first time

1932: THE EL CHOLO CHEF

Just short of 10 years after opening The Sonora Cafe, Joe Reina came to the El Cholo on Western to work as a dishwasher. Shortly thereafter becam...
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1940
December 7th, 1941
December 7th, 1941

Pearl Harbor and the beginning of WWII

1943: Wartime
1943: Wartime

Wartime rations drastically limit food options so George closes the restaurant because he can't provide the same quality of food.

40s: SURVIVING TOUGH TIMES

The 1940’s was a difficult time. It started with World War II and first came rationing. To be “fair” to all of the restaurants ...
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1950

50s: HOLLYWOOD

I remember El Cholo very fondly during this time. I graduated from BYU in 1954. Started to co-manage with my uncle Jimmy Salisbury and my Dad and...
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1959: NACHOS!

It was the late 1950's and Carmen Rocha, our vibrant and friendly waitress has a great deal of regulars at the establishment (Jack Nicholson ...
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1960

60s: ADAPTING

The 60’s started bringing some changes.  Frozen food started to become a factor in supermarkets and Swanson TV dinners led the way.&nb...
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1962: Expansion!

We were lucky enough to purchase the current parking lot (which was once a former house) helping us to expand the Western location.

1962: Ice-making machine

El Cholo gets its first ice-making machine. This means that no longer does an ice delivery man come with a big block of ice that our waiters would have to use an ice pick on to make smaller cubes for drinks.

1962: THIRD GENERATION

Aurelia and George’s son, Ron, grew up in the restaurant industry.  He learned from a young age what it takes to run the operation and...
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1963: HERE’S JOHNNY

Before Jack Nicholson was a major Hollywood Star, he was just a struggling actor. Back then Jack and a bunch of his friends would frequently stop...
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1967: Chimichangas
1967: Chimichangas

Chimichangas appear on the menu!

1969: Apollo II lands on the moon

Ron brought his own black and white TV to the restaurant in the lobby as the broadcast happens the entire restaurant, staff and guests filter into the lobby to watch the historic event.

1969: Major remodel
1969: Major remodel

A major remodel moved the kitchen to its current position at the western location adding more space for tables and our bar!

1967: THE MARGARITA!

Original El Cholo owner, George, was not a fan of selling hard liquer.  Remember he came from the days of prohibition and it was heresay to ...
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1970

70s: CHANGE AND GROWTH

1974 brought the another major remodel of Western Avenue.  This time the restaurant was expanded to utilize the the reminder of the former p...
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1979
1979

El Cholo's Award-Winning Catering is Founded

1977: The Burrito Comes to El Cholo!

Inspired by East LA’s Famous El Tepeyac, Ron heard of this popular menu item: the burrito. Regulars from El Cholo weren’t showing up ...
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1980
1984: Fajitas
1984: Fajitas

A unique Tex-Mex dish bursts onto the Mexican food scene - Fajitas. Like the nachos that came before them, this sizzling dish made its way to the menu with roots from Texas.

1986: Sonora Cafe
1986: Sonora Cafe

The original name of El Cholo is built in Downtown Los Angeles as a new restaurant concept.

80s

The 1980’s started with the opening of El Cholo in Orange in an old Spanish style building in the Town and Country shopping center. It was ...
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1990
1992: The L.A. Riots
1992: The Rodney King Riots

The L.A. Riots engulf Los Angeles with countless buildings and businesses burned and looted. Miraculously, and by some sort of fate, El Cholo is spared despite buildings on the same block being burned down. Ron guarded the building all day.

1992: Honor

In honor of the legendary waitress Ann Howe “Annie’s Enchilada” is added to the menu

1994: The El Cholo reading program

The El Cholo reading program is established offering a monetary reward to students who read a book from a list provided and wrote a report on it.

90's: ONE MILLION TORTILLAS

1997 an old Cadillac agency in Santa Monica on Wilshire Blvd. (that conveniently formerly housed a Mexican restaurant) became available.  We...
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1996: The Taste of History was created

Using the four main core items off the menu: enchilada, taco, tamale and relleno, The Taste of History was created to provide a dish where a gues...
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1999: El Cholo Irvine opens
1999: El Cholo Irvine opens

El Cholo Irvine opens (and after 15 years it was moved to Corona Del Mar)

1997: HELLO SANTA MONICA!

We had been looking to expand to Santa Monica since the 80’s but the space that truly felt right never came us.  In the late 90’...
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2000
2002: The Cannery opens
2002: The Cannery opens

The Cannery opens in Newport Beach in the first commercial fish cannery from 1921.

2007: Guacamole
2007: Guacamole

Nothing beats guacamole freshly made so Table-side Guacamole is introduced to all 6 locations, bringing the freshest, custom guacamole right to the table!

2009: Rachel Ray Show
2009: Rachel Ray Show

El Cholo wins best taco on the Rachel Ray Show using a special private recipe with filet mignon tacos!

2000s: THE CANNERY

After literally a handshake deal and with extremely generous help from Jack Croul  (along with changing architects and plans after 11 months...
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2010
2010: The Los Angeles Lakers championship
2010: The Los Angeles Lakers championship

The Los Angeles Lakers earn their 11th championship ring and celebrations erupt all around the newly opened Downtown El Cholo location.

2013
2013

ANAHEIM HILLS: In 2013 a wonderful Mexican-style building came our way in Anaheim Hills.  At first sight it truly felt like a great EL CHOLO. It had all three features we love in our restaurants: a fireplace, an aquarium and a patio.

2010: DTLA!

For years we had sought a downtown Los Angeles location but everything seemed to be high rise office buildings (which was not the EL CHOLO vibe w...
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2015: CDM EL CHOLO

With our lease in Irvine ending, we were ready to move our location somewhere within Orange County and loved Corona Del Mar.  A small commun...
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2019: Louie's by the Bay opens

Louie's by the Bay opens in beautiful Newport Harbor. Ron names this restaurant to honor his babysitter, WWII veteran and longtime friend, Lo...
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2020: COVID inspiration story

As someone whose first memories of the restaurant business date back to 1933 (yes, among those “first” snapshot memories I fondly include El ...
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ONEROOT Foundation Gives Back

The David A. Pyle family presented the 1923 Restaurant Group Newport Beach / Corona Del Mar restaurant employees with VISA gift cards in the amou...
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Visit our family of Restaurants

Los Angeles - The Original

1121 S. Western Ave Los Angeles CA 90006

Santa Monica

1025 Wilshire Blvd Santa Monica CA 90401

Downtown Los Angeles

1037 S. Flower St Los Angeles CA 90015

Anaheim Hills

8200 E. Santa Ana Canyon Rd., Anaheim CA 92808

Corona Del Mar

3520 E. Coast Highway Corona Del Mar CA 92625

La Habra

840 E. Whittier Blvd La Habra CA 90631