The story of El Tarasco is a heartwarming tale that began with an elopement in the early 1960s in the Mexican state of Michoacan. It’s a story of love, determination, and the American dream realized through the founding of a beloved restaurant chain. Let’s delve into the inspiring journey of Moises and Celia Palomo, the founders of El Tarasco.
Love Against All Odds
In a time when social norms often dictated the course of one’s life, Celia, a young woman, defied her family’s wishes and married Moises Palomo. Moises was a hardworking man, albeit financially challenged. He toiled in the fields, picking strawberries, avocados, or anything that needed harvesting, with the goal of providing a better life for his bride.
The Early Struggles
As Moises worked tirelessly, he saved enough money to send for Celia. When she arrived, both of them worked multiple jobs to make ends meet. They had saved money for a small house, but their dreams were bigger.
The Leap of Faith
In 1969, against the advice of many, Moises and Celia decided to invest their savings in a small restaurant. This restaurant was nothing more than a grill and a counter. This decision marked the birth of the very first El Tarasco, which still stands proudly on Rosecrans Ave in Manhattan Beach.
A Growing Legacy
Celia, who took charge of the kitchen, began expanding the menu slowly. El Tarasco’s success can be attributed, in part, to its prime location. It offered people a place to enjoy filling meals at reasonable prices.
Eight years later, the second El Tarasco opened its doors in El Segundo. Over the years, the Palomo family expanded their dream, and today there are 12 El Tarasco locations, with 11 scattered across Southern California and one in Michoacan.
The Iconic Burrito
El Tarasco’s claim to fame is undoubtedly the Jr. Super Deluxe Burrito, a creation born from Moises’s daughter’s imagination around 1970. This burrito, initially a personal experiment, won over her father with its deliciousness. It quickly became the restaurant’s star dish and remains the most popular item on the menu.
A Tribute to Heritage
The choice of the name “El Tarasco” was a deliberate one. It pays homage to the Native Indian tribe of the Palomo family’s homeland, Michoacan, and reflects the authentic Michoacan flavors found in their cuisine.
From Fields to Avocado Ranches
Moises and Celia’s journey took them from picking avocados as migrant workers to owning an avocado ranch. This investment ensured a steady supply of fresh avocados for their restaurants, adding a unique touch to their dishes.
The American Dream Realized
Moises and Celia Palomo were individuals determined to transform an improbable dream into a thriving reality. Despite the odds stacked against them, they raised five children and lived the quintessential American dream. In 1997, Celia passed away, leaving behind a legacy that continues to thrive through the cherished El Tarasco restaurants.
The story of El Tarasco is a testament to the power of love, hard work, and determination. It reminds us that even the most challenging circumstances can’t deter those with a dream. Moises and Celia Palomo not only realized their American dream but also left behind a culinary legacy that continues to delight taste buds and warm hearts across Southern California and beyond.