From Houston to Tucson: ‘Top Chef’ pays a visit to the city & El Charro Café

May 20, 2022
By Matt Sterner

Over the last few years, Tucson has been no stranger to the national and global spotlight, much like chef Kyle Nottingham’s appearance on the TBS show Rat in the Kitchen and chef Maria Mazon’s stint on Top Chef: Portland.

The world got a taste of Tucson with Mazon throughout Bravo’s previous season, but now the program, Top Chef: Houston, has gone all-in for a full course. Carlotta Flores, who’s the executive chef and owner of the Si Charro! restaurant group, and Don Guerra of Barrio Bread join the table of judges during the season’s final two episodes.

Top Chef: Houston
Photo by David Moir / Bravo

It’s been a banner year for Flores, who’s currently celebrating the year-long 100th Anniversary of El Charro Café while making appearances on other networks, and opening a new concept — downtown’s The Monica.

The finale episodes of Top Chef: Houston will feature a final quickfire show “Cactus Makes Perfect” — clever, huh?. It was filmed at El Charro Café in downtown Tucson late last year, and showcases the final four 2022 contestants on the award-winning cooking competition show.

Top Chef: Houston at El Charro Cafe
Photo courtesy of El Charro Cafe

The restaurant was selected because of its history and for also standing as the oldest family-run Mexican restaurant in the U.S.

“We are honored Top Chef chose Tucson as the destination for the Season 19 finale and we’re excited to share our rich culinary story with millions of viewers across the country,” said Visit Tucson CEO Felipe Garcia.

Also appearing in the finale episodes is Janos Wilder, the recipient of the James Beard Awards Best Chef: Southwest in 2000. The ongoing efforts of Mazon, Ray Flores of Si Charro!, Wilder, and countless others, are just a few of the reasons why Top Chef chose to shoot in Tucson.

“When searching for a finale location, we often look for opportunities to showcase a city which is both a visually stunning destination and a culinary hidden gem,” said Magical Elves producer Diana Schmedeman. “Tucson was all that and more with its majestic mountains, lush deserts, and fantastic resorts, all creating an epic environment for a spectacular season finale. Having been introduced to influential culinary figures and local growers who help shape Tucson’s scene, we knew we had found everything needed to help inspire our finalists for a memorable season finale.”

When to watch & upcoming viewing parties

The show will air on Thursday, May 26 on the Bravo network at 8 p.m.

Additionally, the public is invited to the viewing parties happening at a number of Si Charro! concepts including the original downtown El Charro Café, as well as locations at Ventana and Oro Valley, The Monica, and Charro Steak & Del Rey.

Top Chef: Houston at El Charro Cafe
Photo by David Moir/Bravo

Expect more information about the viewing parties are we creep closer to the air date.

“Super excited for Tucson to get a showcase on one of my favorite shows,” said Guerra of Barrio Bread. “Really looking forward to the next two weeks.”

Also, don’t forget that the James Beard Foundation announced its official list of 2022 Restaurant and Chef Award finalists, and local baker is in the running.

The nominees were announced during a live ceremony at Casa Paloma at El Chorro in Paradise Valley, Arizona. Winners will be celebrated at the James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards ceremony on Monday, June 13, 2022, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

For additional information about Si Charro! concepts, visit

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