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Second Time No Charm For El Charro 1947 – Walnut Creek Location Announces Closure

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We had to remind ourselves when El Charro broke the hearts of hundreds of Mexican food fans and closed its Lafayette location due to financial problems caused by the pandemic.

It was late 2020 and, despite the understandable wail of long-time customers denied access to their favorite blue cheese butter, endless chips and Birthday Burritos, hope was restored in December of the following year when the restaurant opened in Walnut Creek under new ownership and in the location formerly occupied by Maria Maria at 1470 N. Broadway.

Bay Area restauranteur Benjamin Seabury seemed committed to restoring the restaurant’s luster, as well as its signature accoutrements.

Loyal patrons reportedly visited the new location in hope of capturing some of its old magic, but that is apparently not to be as El Charro 1947 abruptly shuttered yet again.

Local diners who had visited the old restaurant in its new location complained quietly about the food and the lack of hospitable magic for which the Lafayette restaurant was known. Some privately expressed doubt about the restaurant’s longevity and, apparently, they were right to worry.

We hate to see any business fail, especially in the midst of these daunting times. But it looks like the latest move is for real, and for good.

20 COMMENTS

  1. I live very close by, but never went there, heard it was overpriced and not good. I miss The Cantina, simple but good.

  2. I thought the new El Charro was OK. I’m surprised it failed so miserably. I visited twice and the second visit was definitely lacking. I do feel bad for the new owner who tried vigorously to make it work, they tried to make it El Charro 2.0 but when the beer came out less than ice cold I knew it was a mess. The chips were stale the food mediocre. The prices high. All A bad recipe.

  3. 1st time I tried it. I didn’t like the food. I think it was the oil they used…. The new owner was so polite she gave me my money back. I just hate this happened to her. Maybe she should start small…. Never give up on your dreams young lady ♥. Good luck

  4. They didn’t market it very well, becuase i had no idea they even re-opened. I was absolutely heartbroken when the original location closed in Lafayette and I would have tried the new location if i knew it was there.

    • Me too! I grew up in San Diego and fell in love with LaPinata in Old Town; when we came to the Bay Area in Danville I couldn’t find any restaurants that could compare…until I found El Charro in Lafayette, the best, authentic Mexican food north of San Diego, and the best hot salsa ever, sweet/ spicy and diced!
      I’m walking through the wilderness now with nothing to compare !

      • I’m from San Diego as well and also grew up going to La Piñata. So good. This place was abysmal. I have to say it. I was sick from it once, and anything I had there seemed rushed and not quality. It’s like they were just trying to make it work without putting the passion into the food. Sad to see any place close (and so quickly), but this place wouldn’t have made it unless they changed many things.

        Once when I paid by card, the following day my bank notified me that someone tried to use my card number at a Smoke Shop. I can’t accuse of course, but the timing made sense.

  5. We showed up an hour and 10 minutes before closing and they turned us away. Party of 6 with 2 kids. Said the kitchen was closed. How many others did they do this to? No surprise they are closing

  6. It’s a shame and I don’t want to see anyone out of work but they were a long way from the standard of their predecessor.

  7. Btw you have the best chips I’ve ever had! Light and crispy, not oily, just enough salt. I give the new owner a lot of credit. He tried the location was horrible. No ambiance, the food was good!

    But…..we all loved Lafayette El Charro doe so many memorable occasions. We didn’t mind waiting with our families to eat there. Weren’t you happy waiting? I loved the short ceilings and creepy floors in the old one. The waitresses wore cute outfits and you just couldn’t wait to get a basket of chips and dip.margaritas or Shirley Temples. Best Chile Rellanos ever! Best Taco Salad ever! Beautiful presentation. That searing hot plate of food you couldn’t touch .
    . Then, the back room had that painted scenery that should be displayed somewhere. I would love it!. I loved the parking lot in the back by that old brown house. And the to go kitchen . you could hear people clamoring and smell wonderful food. Even your corn tortillas with the Pat of butter. I think we all like that cozy feelling. Their food was made with ❤️. You can tell. I miss.

  8. It’s a bummer, and while I’m a bit surprised bc I thought it was quite busy, plenty of business, there were definitely quality issues. And with the challenge of trying to recreate the charm and experience of the old El Charro (impossible) in the new space, whilst being constantly compared to the old one by patrons, I understand why it didn’t work out. Bummed, but hoping for a new Mexican restaurant in that spot. It’s the perfect place for tacos and margaritas on a sunny Friday afternoon!

  9. I went once and the service sucked and the food was awful. I waited 6 minutes before anyone one even said anything . The food was so bad and it was so expensive. The staff was horrible,that I had to get up and find my own utensils so I cold eat. I’m not surprised at all. Sorry for the owner. I loved El Charro in LIFAYETTE.
    There is a El Charro in Livermore that is good and more similar to the one in Lafayette.

  10. It’s really almost shocking how badly it was run. The owners replied to criticism on Yelp but never seemed to make improvements. I live nearby and desperately wanted it to be good but sadly it was overpriced, reheated food and inconsistent expensive drinks. They could have hit it out of the park if they did it right, made fresh food, didn’t charge for chips and made consistent drinks. The area could really use a great restaurant in this location.

  11. Me too, went once and never went back. The owner committed to using Rl Charro’s salsa and it tasted nothing like El Charro, with is sweet/ hot/sweet, and diced, not chunky.
    I am so disappointed.

  12. Yes!! Thank you! Such a pain all these years hearing everyone state their adoration for Maria-Santana; that place nor any of their other locations ever reminded me of a ‘West Side Story’, no matter how many times I had just met a girl named “Maria”, there. (Approx
    8-9x/each visit.)

    The Cantina was THE BUSINESS!

    Now tha I’ve moved back to the area and am on Creekside, I vehemently miss The Can-Tuna days; I had the pleasure of sitting in on my 4 strings on a few occasions while a good friend (Chris Estes) would host his weekly+ 6 string open song book request Musical Entertainment. Oh man do I miss those days/nights, engorged on chips&salsa/Patron Silver & whatever new micro they had on tap; or a Corona if said micro was poopypants… axiomatically! 😩🥺😪

  13. As someone who had been going to the original El Charro in Lafayette since I was in a high chair… I’m now over 50… I was extremely hopeful that the Walnut Creek location would pan out. Unfortunately, our one visit there after they opened, was not what I thought it would be. We never went back and I am not surprised to hear that it’s closed down.

  14. As I recall, the Walnut Creek restaurant purchased the recipes from the old owners, out of bankruptcy. Sad coda to the story.

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