About El Pinto - Page 2


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El Pinto restaurant opened in 1962 by Jack and Connie Thomas. They wanted to open a New Mexican restaurant serving the recipes of Connie's mother Josephina Chavez-Griggs. They decided to name the restaurant El Pinto or "the spot". It was a destination restaurant, but families came from miles around to have the delicious food and enjoy the beautiful north valley of Albuquerque. The Thomas' six children all helped in the restaurant while they were growing up. Their twins, Jim and John, took a particular interest and took over the family business in the early nineties.

Jim and John worked on expanding the restaurant and creating a beautiful atmosphere while maintaining great food for all ages. El Pinto is now the largest single restaurant in the state of New Mexico. The restaurant can seat over 1,000 guests at a time. It has become a must do activity for out-of-town travelers. On any given weekend there may be a wedding, corporate team building events, a movie that is filming, and friends and family enjoying a dinner out under the cottonwoods.

In the late 1990's customers starting requesting that the salsa and sauces be bottled because of their great flavor. Jim and John worked through trial and error to get the best salsa and sauces they could in the bottle. They started a night shift at the restaurant to cook and bottle the salsa and sauces. El Pinto Foods began to take off and soon El Pinto Salsa and Green Chile Sauce were on local store shelves for people to use at home. El Pinto Salsas and Sauces are now available nationwide in stores including Wal-Mart, Kroger, Albertson's, HEB, and Costco.

The Salsa Twins Story

Twin brothers Jim and John Thomas purchased the El Pinto restaurant from their parents in 1994 and continue to use the same family recipes created by their grandmother, Josephina Chavez-Griggs. To build on the success of the restaurant and to meet the strong demand for their sauces, Jim and John were motivated to produce them for retail distribution.

They started the El Pinto Foods’ salsa division in 2000, so people throughout the country could enjoy El Pinto Salsa and Green Chile Sauce at home. The brothers’ first production site consisted of a 35 gallon kettle and a pump in the kitchen. Today, El Pinto uses 120 tons of chiles a year, makes 2,000 cases a day and have the capacity to make 3-4 million jars a year in their 8,000 square foot salsa production facility which is attached to the El Pinto restaurant.

The quality of El Pinto products begins with the chile. To Jim and John quality control is critical and they compare chile to a fine wine – something that needs to be handled with care. To keep the original flavor, all chiles used in the El Pinto products are grown exclusively to El Pinto specifications and roasted in the same way El Pinto has been roasting them for the past 35 years. In addition, El Pinto only processes jalapeños while they’re in season to ensure optimal quality. To guarantee product quality, all growers are monitored and seeds as well as growing conditions are analyzed throughout the season. As a result from working directly with the growers and giving them the necessary feedback to produce an excellent chile made to El Pinto specifications, Jim and John are able to produce a high quality consistent product.

El Pinto products are prepared using steam injection, pasteurization and a quick cool procedure in order to seal in the roasted flavor and guarantee the highest quality possible.

The authentic flavor and hand-picked ingredients used in El Pinto Salsa makes the product versatile for both snacking and cooking. El Pinto’s Salsa and Green Chile Sauce can be used to spice up everyday dishes such as El Pinto Green Chile Meatloaf and Green Chile Chicken Stew (recipes included in press kit).


Jack and Connie Thomas built El Pinto Restaurant in 1962. It started as a one room restaurant with just a handful of tables and a small kitchen. They built their home right by the restaurant so they could raise their family and be close to their business. Slowly the restaurant expanded and they added another room and an elegant patio where people could sit and enjoy their meal during the warm weather.

When Jim and John took over the restaurant from their parents, they expanded with more patios and a beautiful indoor garden room. The restaurant now seats over 1,200 guests at a time in our five patios, three indoor dining rooms, and a cantina. The patios can be enclosed during the winter months so the guest can still enjoy the patio and sit near a warm fire. The restaurant sits on twelve acres and it includes a 5,000 square foot manufacturing facility to produce salsa and sauces for retail. We are the largest New Mexican restaurant in the state of New Mexico.