New Mexican restaurant in Sugar House has go-ahead to serve alcohol

The 100-year-old California-based restaurant was granted a liquor license for its first Utah location last week.

(Courtesy El Cholo) The original El Cholo restaurant in Los Angeles, seen here in the 1930s. The Mexican restaurant opened in 1923 and spawned others. The chain's seventh location — the first outside southern California — is now open in Salt Lake City's Sugar House neighborhood.

A new Mexican restaurant has opened in Salt Lake City — and it has the go-ahead to serve alcohol.

El Cholo, a chain of Mexican restaurants in southern California that recently celebrated its centennial, held a grand opening Monday for its new location at 2166 S. 900 East in the Sugar House neighborhood. This is El Cholo’s first location in Utah and its first outside southern California.

The Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Services commission approved El Cholo’s liquor license at a special meeting on Friday. Ericka Evans, DABS compliance and licensing director, said the commission had been waiting for the restaurant to obtain its business license, as well as for a fire inspection and building inspection to be completed, before it could issue the liquor license. The restaurant received its business license as of last week, and all other criteria had been met, Evans said.

During the meeting, a representative from El Cholo said, “everything is up and operating, it looks beautiful. The staff is great, the food is great. And thank you so much for holding this meeting today and letting us have the opportunity to open on Monday with alcohol service available.”

The commissioners voted unanimously Friday to give El Cholo a liquor license.

A sample menu available on El Cholo’s website features enchiladas, soups, salads, combination plates and special entrees, such as chicken chimichangas and filet mignon tacos. Its drink menu includes margaritas and specialty tequilas. Menu items vary by location.

According to the website, the restaurant’s Sugar House location is more than 9,000 square feet and offers roof and front deck seating.

The DABS commission had declined to grant El Cholo a liquor license at its Sept. 28 meeting, citing a policy only to give licenses to businesses that are immediately ready to operate.

Alejandro Borquez and his wife, Rosa, opened the original El Cholo in 1923, and it’s touted as the first Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles, The Salt Lake Tribune previously reported. The company now operates six restaurants in southern California.