Food - Drink
The Oldest Mexican Restaurant Still Operating In LA
By VANESSA NIX ANTHONY
The Heart Of The City
El Cholo's humble beginnings and long history are inextricably bound to the city and state in which it was born. Los Angeles is a place of great diversity; home to people from over 140 countries, with markers of its indigenous, Mexican, and Spanish influences permeating nearly everything.
Generations Of Flavor
At nearly 100 years old, El Cholo is the oldest Mexican restaurant still in operation in LA, representing the spirit of what makes the city great — a merging of cultures and flavors that has created something complex, beautiful, and lasting. It’s a testimony to the tenacity and triumphs of early Mexican immigrant restaurateurs.
Hidden Roots
Originally called Sonora Cafe, the eatery adopted a new name in 1925. El Cholo was marketed as a "Spanish Cafe," even though its small menu featured only eight dishes — all of them Mexican. This allowed early Mexican restaurant owners to succeed in a time when racial hostilities might have otherwise made it impossible.
A Taste Of History
Its deep sense of history in Los Angeles is also a point of pride. El Cholo's website features a thorough history and charming anecdotes about Hollywood stars, like Gary Cooper calling ahead to ensure there would be strawberry jam on hand to top his order of fresh flour tortillas.
The El Cholo Legacy
Maybe even more than the food served, the true legacy of El Cholo is one of enduring tenacity, community, and pride. The founders had the best of intentions and the confidence to trust those instincts, and their dream was made possible through hard work, ingenuity, and tradition.