Restaurant News

Macayo's and Others Make Deep-Fried Push for Chimichanga as State Food

Since it started its advertising campaign last fall to crown the chimichanga as the state food of Arizona, Macayo's Mexican Kitchen, the Phoenix-based, family-owned chain with locations in Arizona and Las Vegas, is continuing its push to make the deep-fried creation official.

The Republic reports that Macayo's, along with the El Capitan Fresh Mexican Grill in Flagstaff, Carlos O'Brien's in Phoenix, El Charro Cafe in Tucson, and state legislator Representative Kate Brophy McGee, have joined together and are waiting for Governor Jan Brewer to declare the chimichanga Arizona's official state food.

Brophy McGee, R-Phoenix, told the Republic she approached Brewer last year to see whether a proclamation could be made as part of the state's centennial celebrations, but so far, there's been no progress.


While Arizona clearly is overdue for a state food, a petition packaged as an advertising campaign from a restaurant chain with an agenda seems too convenient an answer and ignores other edible candidates for the position. If we're going to do this thing, and we should, let's do it right.

In January, when Chow Bella conducted our own unscientific poll of state food candidates, the chimichanga came in third, after the prickly pear and the winner, with almost thirty-three percent of the vote, the Sonoran hot dog.

Plus, it's still unclear that the deep-fried burrito can even claim its origins in Arizona (at least, the Tucson/Phoenix battle continues to sizzle -- even in the pages of the New York Times late last year, in a story that sounded a lot like one we published in 2007 and even at that, the thing might have been born in northern Mexico).

And lest we forget, Arizona is the stomping ground of some of the oldest food practices and most landscape- and weather-diverse eats from a variety of cultures in North America. The saguaro fruit, mesquite flour, prickly pear -- these candidates deserve to be considered as well.

Despite anti-chimi arguments, the online Check Yes for Chimi petition, which, to date, has received nearly 2,800 votes, may mean the deep-fried creation is more popular than originally thought.

Macyo's isn't giving up the push for the governor to recognize the chimichanga as the official state food of Arizona -- and it's continuing its campaign in the form of a chimi celebration at its Arizona restaurants.

From Tuesday, February 21, to Saturday, March 31, Macayo's will offer a special menu called the Chimi Fiesta that will feature several styles of the creation including a lobster and shrimp seafood chimi and an Arizona Centennial Chimichanga with carne asada.

Macayo's special menu will also include a Centennial Prickly Pear Margarita, which, given all the recent state food hub-bub, most people would agree has its benefits.

What say you, state food fans? Does the chimichanga deserve a place in history?

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Laura Hahnefeld
Contact: Laura Hahnefeld