Remembering Socorro’s

I haven’t done one of these “remember when” posts in a while, but with the opening this week of Don Marcos Mexican restaurant at 10276 Foothill Blvd., Rancho Cucamonga, this seems like a good time to recall the long-lived restaurant in this building: Socorro’s.

Socorro’s was established in 1969 at 9671 Foothill (at Archibald) and moved in 1981 a bit east to 10276, near Haven. It was a popular sit-down Mexican restaurant run by a woman whose first name (I believe) was Socorro. She closed the business in 2001, I think to retire.

The above dates are courtesy of the Ontario Library’s Model Colony History Room, where Kelly Zackmann looked through phone books and Criss-Cross Directories for me. The only caveat is because of a ’67-’83 gap, she couldn’t say for sure if anything was in 10276 prior to Socorro’s. Our guess is no, but we can’t say for sure.

Sad to say, I never ate there, only visiting a year or two ago to try the Whole Enchilada, which took Socorro’s place. Don Marcos, we can only hope, will be an improvement. Interesting that all three restaurants in this building have had Mexican cuisine. It’s obviously what the building is associated with in people’s minds.

Anyone want to reminisce about Socorro’s — the original location, the later location, the food, the ambience, the owner? To last 32 years, they must have been doing something right.

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  • Charles Bentley

    The original Socorro’s was a great place with tasty food and a friendly atmosphere. It was the sort of establishment so many small Mexican food restaurants aspire to be (and usually fall short of).

    When Socorro’s moved down the street to the new location, the friendly atmosphere remained but the good food didn’t make the trip. Maybe it was because the new restaurant was so much bigger, a real problem for quality control. Maybe they tried to do too much, attempting to rival larger local restaurants and attract a different clientele. Whatever the reason, two visits made it clear the “new” Socorro’s wasn’t the same.

    Something good did come from that move. The old site became home to Renee’s New Mexico, an outstanding restaurant that became a huge success (and remains a personal favorite despite the fact it’s now been gone for, what, 15 years?).

    These days 9671 Foothill Blvd. is home to the Deli, a very good sandwich shop. Not a bad legacy for a single address, and far better than 10276 Foothill. I am, however, hopeful that Don Marcos will change that trend!

    [I knew you’d come through on this, Charles. And that fills in the gap on The Deli’s history: previously Renee’s New Mexico, and before that Socorro’s. — DA]

  • Dan Peters

    Good Morning Mr. Allen,

    Socorro’s Restaurant was a small landmark authentic Mexican restaurant in the orange grove community of Cucamonga, adjoining Carl’s Liquor, where a guaranteed hot meal always awaited the hungry public.

    Their second location was carved from an existing grape vineyard, orginally from the Virginia Dare Winery estate grounds, and served the community well due to the demand of delicious cuisine.

    Finally, Socorro was the last name of the family who owned the business. The owner’s children attended Alta Loma High School during the ’70s.

    [Thanks, Dan. — DA]

  • Wayne Kenerson

    You are probably right about them being the first tenant. The building was built in 1981.

    [Good to have that cleared up. — DA]

  • Bob House

    Speaking of long-gone Cucamonga restaurants, does anyone have a recollection of RoVal’s, a barbecue place on Foothill? I ate there in the middle ’60s and recall the large, circular grill in the dining room.

  • pat flinn

    (please excuse the mono-type. i broke an arm december 26th rendering me a one-handed typist.) i remember roval’s which started out where cask & cleaver later located, on east 9th at ? street. later, the restaurant relocated to foothill blvd. – almost in or maybe in etiwanda. it was always a very special place to dine. right up there with sycamore inn and the magic lamp and stuft shirt (euclid & foothill) as the best around back in the late 1950’s and 1960’s.

    [thanks, pat, and best of luck with the arm. — da]

  • nicole

    Wow! I was just about to send off an email to you, Mr. Allen, to ask if you knew anything about Renee’s New Mexico when I read these comments. I first moved here in 1985 and visited Renee’s many times when I was in high school. I remember hearing that it was closing down because “Renee” wanted to go back to New Mexico, but I wasn’t sure if this was the case. I remember this place being very unique and still think of it often when driving down Archibald.

    Socorro’s was always one of my favorites and I was sad that my husband (we married in 1991) never had a chance to try it.

  • Linda Biscardi

    I remember Socorro’s in its old location on Foothill and Archibald in the late ’70s. They had a takeout window. It’s where everyone went for inexpensive and very good Mexican food. Everytime I drove by on Foothill it seemed as though there were people lined up at that window.

  • JMac

    I don’t recall RoVals, but I do remember the Casa De Mayo being the tenant before Cask and Cleaver took over at the Cucamonga locale.

    • Handsome Package

      Hi JMac. What vivid memories do you have of Casa De Mayo. I was at Cask Saturday night and just found out that it used to be a Mexican restaurant. The manager there showed me the album cover of a recording that was made at that location.

  • Amy

    I remember when my parents used to take me to Socorro’s as a kid. There used be a a guy who sang and played the guitar around the place.

  • nicole

    Renee’s New Mexico, anyone? Anyone?

  • ak

    Socorro also had a Mexican food stand on the corner of Garey and Mission in Pomona for awhile. My first job! I still remember the pork in the red sauce — the best!

  • Matt Swift

    I remember going to Socorro’s at their second location at least twice as a kid/teen with the family where we were introduced to fried ice cream.

  • Derek Christensen

    Actually, this quote from the Comment above is incorrect.

    “Finally, Socorro was the last name of the family who owned the business. The owner’s children attended Alta Loma High School during the ’70s.”

    The family that owned Socorro’s Restaurant’s last name was “Solorzano.” I went to Alta Loma High School with ‘Corra’s son Richard Solorzano (we were same year of graduation) and his sister Cynthia (who graduated a year ahead of us).

    Richard helped out in the family business as a manager at the 10276 Foothill (Virginia Dare vineyard) location in the mid-1980s.

    He used to stop by the Michael J’s Restaurant lounge (Foothill at Hermosa, now a BC Cafe) after Socorro’s closed down for the night.

  • Shelli Anderson

    I, too, think of Renee’s New Mexico often when I drive by the old location.

    My family dined there many times and thought it was the best and most unique New Mexican cuisine we had ever tasted (and still do)! My dad collected Kachina dolls, and as I recall, Renee had quite a collection in the dining area, which we all enjoyed. We were very saddened to hear that Renee would be moving back to New Mexico. My thoughts at the time were that we would just have to make a trip to New Mexico to eat at her new restaurant, but we never heard if she had ever opened one.

    I still crave the food at that restaurant and have found none that compare. If anyone has any info that she may have started a restaurant under a different name, please let me know!

  • Charles Bentley

    Renee had talked for quite a while about returning to New Mexico and opening a combination hotel/restaurant. When she left here, she moved to Las Vegas, NM, and attempted to achieve her dream.

    A few years later I was traveling to Oklahoma and decided to see if I could find Renee and what I was sure would be a most popular destination. However, as I drove through town I failed to find it. I checked in the local phone book and found nothing. So I stopped at a local motel and asked if I could speak with the manager.

    When I told the gentleman what I was seeking, he smiled and nodded his head. Yes, he remembered Renee. He event told me where I could find the place she’d opened. But he told me she hadn’t been able to make it work and eventually closed down and moved away. He didn’t know where she’d gone nor could he recommend anyone in town who might know.

    I drove by the address he’d given and found just a vacant building. No sign of what it had been and no indication of where Renee might have gone. The remainder of the day and a good part of the trip was left to wonder what was (as Paul Harvey used to say) the rest of the story.

    We stopped in Santa Rosa a short while later. I thought I recalled her talking about living in or near Santa Rosa at one time. But again, no Renee.

    This is the my tale of a search to find Renee. I’d love to hear from anyone who might have more information.

  • Susan (Butler) Parsons

    I remember Socorro’s well. Cora hired me at 16 in 1970 even though I had no experience and I had my first job. I served food after school and on Saturdays. I remember one of my first duties was working the “to go” window and making all the ice cream dishes, malts etc.

    Socorros’s was truly a family place and even this blue eyed gringa with the blonde ponytail was treated as such.

    Cora’s husband, Joe, always had a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye. There were 3 children, Richard, Cindy and the baby Gina. The kids would come in after school, hang out and have a snack.

    My favorite item on the menu was the to die for freshly made chile rellenos that were made each day. Each afternoon when I arrived for work the place was filled with aromas of the most wonderful kind. At Christmas there were always the traditional tamales and we would close early and enjoy some together as the family we were.

    I last saw the Solorzano family in 1993. I came to town for for a ALHS class reunion. I found the new location and was pleasantly surprised to see most of them working that day. Even better, they recognized and remembered me even though I had been gone from the area for decades. I will be returning for another ALHS reunion July 17, 2009, but sadly Cora’s is no more. Though it is now called Don Marcos, in my heart it will be Socorro’s again, just for a moment, when I raise a margarita in a toast to Cora and good memories of days gone by.

    [A lovely tribute, Susan. — DA]