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Third-generation churrero taking the classic churro to new heights

Tucson man opens first-of-its-kind brick and mortar churro shop
Posted: 2:43 PM, Jul 10, 2023
Updated: 2023-07-10 21:25:42-04
Just Churros brick and mortar

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — I have been sharing our Absolutely Arizona history with you for more than six years, taking you to the birthplace of the chimichanga and to the home of the Sonoran hot dog.

Now, let's take a bite out of a sweet treat—-the churro—and find out what makes it Absolutely Arizona.

The delicious churro is a popular dessert made of fried dough, dusted in cinnamon sugar.

Most believe it was Spanish shepherds who first made the fried bread. The name refers to the Churra sheep they tended, with the churro resembling the sheep's horns.

While it may have started in Spain, the churro's popularity has exploded in the American southwest, especially here in Tucson.

What makes the churro so special?

"I would have to say love," said Ricky Pintor.

Pintor puts love into every one of his churros.

He's a third-generation churrero: Someone who makes churros.

Just Churros founder Modesto Pintor

Ricky's grandfather, Modesto, started making churros for crowds of people in Douglas back in 1981.

Modesto passed along the family recipe to his son Rick, and then onto Ricky.

Just Churros first food truck.jpg

The family has run the Just Churros food truck in Tucson for many years. Ricky believes he's now perfected that family recipe.

"It's definitely the process and the science behind it all that creates the perfect crunch and softness in the middle," according to Pintor.

The family recipe for churros remains a secret. Ricky carries on the family business now that his grandfather and father have both passed away.

Ricky Pintor making the family recipe for churros

"They're always watching me, making sure I do it right, you know," Pintor said.

I asked him if he feels pressure because of that.

"Oh yeah, yeah," said Pintor. "Not only that kind of pressure, but from the family knowing the roots of the churro and of the way we make 'em. You know, the fan base that we've (been) able to accumulate over 40 years."

That fan base has been loyal, finding Just Churros at big events around town.

But now, you can find Just Churros in a permanent location. Ricky and his wife Kassandra have opened a brick and mortar store on Oracle, just north of Grant.

People have questioned him, asking why he's taking a risk opening a brick and mortar store.

Just Churros brick and mortar location on Oracle
The new brick and mortar location of Just Churros is located at 4280 N. Oracle Road., Ste. 120.

"Yeah, I've heard that, I've heard that a couple of times," Pintor said. "But I really feel like these are special because I feel like it was missing freshly made churros made right in front of your eyes. That's why I created the opening concept so that you can see the churros being made."

Ricky has also created a special way to squeeze out the churro dough into the 400 degree oil. It is based on his grandfather's design.

Making churros at Just Churros

"It's pretty much like a big piping bag," explained Pintor. "Some people call it the 'churro bazooka'."

Most people call his churros delicious, including his unique s'mores churro and his very popular churro à la mode.

Churro à la mode from Just Churros

Ricky says his churros bring people back to their childhood. The usual reaction is positive.

"These are the best churros I've ever had," Rintor said.

Ricky and Kassandra have a son and a daughter, meaning a 4th generation of churreros is learning the family business.

Just Churros is open Wednesdays through Sundays. The shop is located at 4280 N. Oracle Rd.

Pat Parris is an anchor and reporter for KGUN 9. He is a graduate of Sabino High School where he was the 1982 high school state track champion in the 800 meters. While in high school and college, he worked part-time in the KGUN 9 newsroom. Share your story ideas and important issues with Pat by emailing or by connecting on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.