Ah, El Chorro – One of the icons of Phoenix dining, as much for it’s food (including their famous sticky buns) as for the view – a straight shot of Camelback Mountain from the north side.
It started out in the ’30s as a girls’ school, then became a restaurant for all the hip-and-happening in the ’50s. It had been run for decades by the same sweet couple, the Millers. But in 2009, after the Millers had said goodbye, Jacquie Dorrance (her husband, Bennett, an heir of Campbell’s Soup) purchased it and set out to remodel a pillar of old Phoenix.
The Dorrances are known around town – if not personally, than in their philanthropy. The planetarium at the Arizona Science Center and the sculpture garden at Phoenix Art Museum bear the Dorrance name. So for their next project to be El Chorro was fitting to their history here and their love of Phoenix. The public, though, held its collective breath as rumors swirled about whether or not the new version of the restaurant would live up to its name.
El Chorro has been open for months now, and the verdict is in: It is every bit as amazing as the original (and maybe even more).
The views of Camelback Mountain were improved upon by nearly doubling the patio dining areas, the interior and exterior are bridged by a huge bar, and the inside of the restaurant was completely redesigned to be brighter. In every sense, though, it is the glamorously rustic space you hope for, and the feeling of the old El Chorro hasn’t changed, thanks in part to the photos of old Phoenix set on the walls, the socializing under the sky, and yes – even the sticky buns are back.
There are also new, tucked-away areas that provide loads of charm. The patio has more fireplaces for the winter with big, cushy chairs (and by the way, misters run throughout the patio so even in the summer, the patio is 85 degrees), there is the organic garden, and beautiful lawns for events.
The food is equally impressive, even in the bar which draws the happy hour crowd to nosh on delicious appetizers and cool beverages.
All-in-all, El Chorro is not to be missed. It is in the top 5 places I would recommend to my own family and friends coming to town, so take that, dear readers, as a good recommendation.
El Chorro Lodge
5550 E Lincoln Dr.
Paradise Valley, AZ 85253