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Pueblo's Presidential Plate

Is that cilantro between his teeth?

George Ayala still can’t believe that the next president of the United States sat in his restaurant for lunch. Luckily, Ayala, owner of Jorge’s Sombrero, 1319 East Evans Avenue, in Pueblo, has a ton of pictures to commemorate the visit by Barack and Michelle Obama and their daughters, Malia and Sasha.

The First Family was in Pueblo on November 1 for a rally downtown. I’d suggested they try Patti’s for its unusual, but very Colorado-like item: Italian sausage in a tortilla smothered in spaghetti and green chile. Instead, the Obamas went to Jorge’s, surprising the staff and customers who had no idea they were coming.

“He ate one taco with carne asada and one chicken soft taco on a white tortilla,” Ayala says about the presidential meal. “Michelle had carne asada, and the girls shared a quesadilla. Then they took two shrimp tacos to go.” Ayala also sent the Obamas on their way with a to-go bag full of empanadas and pan dulce. “We tried to buy it for them, but they wouldn’t have it,” he says, adding that an Obama staffer paid for the food.

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Ayala plans to mount a plaque where Obama sat and hang some pictures on the wall – “It was very historic” -- but the most lasting change at Jorge’s will be a new menu item. The Presidential Surf ‘n’ Turf includes one carne asada taco and one shrimp taco. “We never used to break them up, but we will now,” he says. “What the president wants, he gets.”

Since the visit, Ayala says Jorge’s has been much busier than usual as people came in to see where Obama was and what he ate. In fact, the U.S. Ambassador to China was there to take a picture and have lunch. The only disappointing part? Obama didn’t try any of Colorado’s signature dish, and a Jorge’s specialty, green chile.

Maybe next time. – Jonathan Shikes

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