How Mexican Is a Chimichanga, Really?

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You’ll find them on the menu of virtually every Mexican restaurant, but how Mexican are chimichangas, really? There is more than one story floating around the internet about the origin of this Mexican restaurant lunch favorite. Pretty much all the stories agree that the chimichanga came to the United States by way of Arizona, but whether or not it started there or actually in Mexico is up for debate. What isn’t up for debate, though, is that they are delicious, especially if you order one from Monarquia!


A Happy Accident

A chimichanga is basically a fried burrito, and most stories agree that the first chimichanga was an accident. The best-known version of the story takes us to Tuscon, Arizona, in 1922. The owner of the famous El Charro restaurant was in a hurry while making a burrito and accidentally dropped it in the fryer. El Charro was a family restaurant, so to keep herself from swearing, she blurted out “Chimichanga!” After she discovered that fried burritos are actually delicious, the name stuck.

There are several other chefs and restaurant owners who have claimed to be the first to drop a burrito in a fryer, but the story is always essentially the same. But if the chimichanga was not created by accident, there is another possibility, albeit a much less fun one. The boring version of its origin story is that Mexican immigrants from Sonora made something similar to a chimichanga and brought it with them to Arizona. But the name chimichanga makes many people think that the “accidentally dropped a burrito in the fryer” story is true. If you break down the name, you get chimi and changa which come from Mexican Spanish words. Chimi comes from chamuscado, meaning “singed” or “seared. Changa most likely comes from chinga, which is a rude word to express surprise.

While you’re chewing on that history, let’s look at what goes inside this delicious Mexican lunch option!


Infinite Variations Inside

There are as many options for chimichanga fillings as there are Mexican restaurants. You can make them with either flour or corn tortillas, and common fillings are meat, cheese, rice, beans, and vegetables. At Monarquia, we fill ours with either chicken or beef and serve them with a side of rice, beans, and guacamole.


Hungry? Come grab lunch at Monarquia! Visit us at 292 NH-101 in Amherst or order online.

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