National Chimichanga Day is on September 26 and it’s an opportunity to celebrate one of the greatest culinary accidents in history — the deep-fried goodness that is the chimichanga. Created in 1946 — the same year as the popular Mexican restaurant concept was launched — the chimichanga (which means ‘thingamajig’ in Spanish), has become a staple on Mexican restaurant menus around the country.
History of National Chimichanga Day
The chimichanga is a humble food item — a deep-fried burrito stuffed with meat and other ingredients. However, as with many staple dishes, the origin of the chimichanga is disputed.
Over the years a number of restaurants based in Tucson, Arizona have proclaimed themselves as the inventors of the chimichanga. The most popular origin story dates back to the late 1940s or early ’50s, and is credited to Monica Flin — owner of El Charro Cafe. According to legend the modern-day chimichanga was the result of Flin accidentally flipping a burrito into the deep fryer. Flin exclaimed, using a Spanish swear word “Chimichanga!”. What came out of the fryer that day was a crisp, savory burrito that became a legend in its own right.
Similar to a burrito, the chimichanga is loaded with a number of fillings; rice, beans, and of course, seasoned meat. The meat is usually pork, steak, or braised beef. The beans are either black or pinto, and the rice is typically Mexican-style. Cheese is also a popular filling — Monterey Jack, cheddar, or Chihuahua. Many people pairing their chimichangas with Tex-Mex sauce, queso, and salsa.
The impact of the chimichanga has grown into a cultural phenomenon and we have the serendipitous marriage of a burrito and a deep fryer to thank for it. On National Chimichanga Day, let’s all think about the roots of this delicious dish and its creators.
National Chimichanga Day timeline
Monica Flin, who started the restaurant El Charro Cafe in Arizona, creates the chimichanga when a burrito falls into the deep fryer.
Another story claims that the chimichanga was created by accident when Macayo’s founder drops a meat burrito into the deep fryer at their restaurant in Phoenix.
Chimichangas are among the most popular dishes at Mexican restaurants and they attract the attention of the first family — President Barack Obama orders a signature chimi while celebrating his daughter Malia’s birthday.
To give this dish the recognition it deserves, the first National Chimichanga Day is observed.
National Chimichanga Day FAQs
When is National Chimichanga Day?
National Chimichanga Day is held annually on September 26 to celebrate one of the greatest culinary accidents in history — the deep-fried goodness that is the chimichanga.
What is in a chimichanga?
Like their cousin, the burrito, chimichangas can be filled with any combination of meats and cheeses, topped with relleno sauce, sour cream, and Pico de Gallo and served with rice or refried beans.
How did the chimichanga get its name?
The chimichanga literally means ‘thingamajig’ in Spanish.
National Chimichanga Day Activities
Go get a chimichanga
The most obvious (and most obviously delicious) way to celebrate is to head out to your local Mexican restaurant and grab a chimichanga. The dish has become so ubiquitous, you’d be hard-pressed not to find one.
Throw a Mexican-themed party
Who doesn't love a themed party and dressing up? Throw a Mexican party and serve tequilas, nachos, and of course, chimichangas!
Make your own chimichanga
For those of us who can’t experience a chimi directly from a Mexican kitchen, making one at home is a good alternative. Assemble your favorite burrito-making ingredients, heat up that frying oil, and recreate the iconic moment when the two came together.
Why We Love National Chimichanga Day
It celebrates a classic dish
National Chimichanga Day gives us all a reason (like we needed one?) to celebrate this iconic dish.
It reminds us to embrace happy accidents
The chimichanga was invented by someone who accidentally dropped a burrito in the fryer. If this didn't happen, we might not have had this staple of Mexican food today!
It’s a chance for us to come together
To celebrate the chimichanga on this day, there are many events and promotions designed to bring the community together around their favorite deep-fried dish.
National Chimichanga Day dates