El Indio was founded at the corner of India and Grape as a tortilla factory in August of 1940 by Ralph Pesqueira Sr. Fresh corn tortillas were made by hand.
During WWII, customers from Consolidated, Convair, and other nearby factories soon began asking for ready-to-eat lunch items. Ralph Sr. responded by making the "taquito," a word he coined meaning "little taco."
Between 1945 and 1946, Ralph Sr. used his basement to make the first tortilla machine in San Diego. He increased production from 30 dozen tortillas per day to more than 30 dozen per hour and began supplying local restaurants. Ralph Sr. moved El Indio to its current location in 1947. In this small 25-by-75-foot location, we sold many of the same Sonora-style Mexican dishes we sell today. Our recipes were introduced and perfected by Ralph Junior's parents and grandparents. Ralph Jr. grew up behind the counter, and many long-time El Indio customers still greet him as "Sonny." He took over the business in 1981 after his father passed away. He is currently grooming his daughter to follow the family tradition.
Today, El Indio is well-known around the world, having provided care packages to our soldiers while fighting in Vietnam and Desert Storm. Over the years, many local politicians in Congress have requested these "El Indio Care Packages" to be sent to Washington D.C. Even a couple of our presidents have had occasion to sample El Indio's food while in the White House. The Honorable Pete Wilson, former mayor of San Diego, had many opportunities to enjoy El Indio's food. We were honored to cater his first inauguration as governor of California.