If you lived in Tucson long enough, you won’t forget the inimitable Al Valenzuela and his signature ads asking us to “Come to Gordo’s” and partake of his fantastic chimichangas. When he passed away in 2002 Gordo’s had been sold and soon thereafter closed.
Since then, Valenzuela’s widow Julie (whose family recipes formed the basis of all the offerings at Gordo’s) and daughter Marguerite have often thought it would be fun to find a way bring back Gordo’s “chimis.”
Enter Mark Callahan. A year ago, Margarite re-connected with Mark, a former college friend who just happened to be an entrepreneur within the gourmet retail food industry. Mark has since moved to Tucson and the two have begun to introduce Gordo’s 2.0, an updated version of the original Gordo’s Chimichangas, at local farmers markets several times a week.
Marguerite and Mark (sometimes even “Nana” Julie helps out) and Gordo’s 2.0 can be found at the Heirloom Market in Oro Valley on Saturdays and Rillito Racetrack Market on Sundays. They currently feature three types of Chimichangas; Shredded Beef, Refried Beans and Cheese, and Shredded Chicken with Hatch Chiles – all served with Lime Crema. Chicken Enchilada Casserole, Green Corn Tamale Pie, Handmade Tortillas and Gordo’s special salsa complete the current offerings. The Chimichangas are served fresh from the deep fryer with the casseroles available as take home and heat products.
If the public reception is any indication, they have a hit on their hands. It’s not unusual to see a line forming for these Tucson delicacies as the markets open, and as the word has spread, they have been selling out each week at both locations.
“This is something I have dreamed of doing for so long”, said Marguerite. “All the right elements just dropped into place and we are up and running! It has been so rewarding to meet people at the markets who still remember the original Gordo’s and my Dad.”
Following this test market phase, the ultimate goal is to take Gordo’s 2.0 products nationally as frozen products. Locally, catering options will be available.
NPR wonders why Tucson’s Mexican food scene does not get much national attention?