Chinese food is a classic American comfort food.
In the last five decades, it has become the norm.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with chef Carlos Ruiz and his son, Carlos, to talk about how the tradition has evolved over the last few decades.
Carlos and his family were the first to take out Chinese food on their own in the U.S. in the 1960s.
Their restaurant, Carlos Jr. Chinese, opened in 1967 in a renovated, historic building in the South Side neighborhood of Chicago.
Carls Sr. worked for a number of years at a restaurant called the Shrimp and Gizzards.
After retiring, he moved to New York City to pursue a career in business.
Carlus Sr. opened his first restaurant, the Bistro Cesar Del Sol, in 1963 in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
In 1965, he opened a second restaurant, La Bistrotte in Queens.
In the 1970s, the restaurant industry took off.
By the 1980s, it was becoming the largest restaurant chain in the world.
In 1980, Carl’s son Carlos Jr., opened La Bicci Cantina in Queens, the first in New York to offer authentic Chinese food.
Carles Jr. began to grow his business and became the president of his father’s restaurant chain.
In 1990, the brothers opened La Bianca Cantina, which expanded to the Bronx.
Carlies Sr. died in 2008, but his son Carlos has been running the restaurant business since 1993.
In addition to La Biancas Cantina and La Biancos Cantina (in Queens), Carlos has restaurants in Harlem, Long Island, the Bronx, the Hamptons, New York, and Los Angeles.
In New York and Los Angles, Carlos runs La Cucaracha (the Chinese name for a restaurant chain), the first Chinese restaurant in the United States to serve authentic Chinese cuisine.
Carlolas Jr. has served as a consultant for the Culinary Institute of America, which runs the Cul de Sac.
He is a co-author of The Culinary Art of China, a guide to Chinese cooking and culture.
Carlis Ruiz opened La Cancionita, the oldest restaurant in New Mexico.
It is also one of the oldest restaurants in the country.
In 1993, he and his brother Carlos opened La La Luna (La Bistratte).
La Bicca Cantinas Cantina opened in 2005, in a small space in the former headquarters of the Mexican National Guard.
The two restaurants now serve authentic Spanish-style food.
La Biscuit and La Biscuits Cantina both have locations in New Orleans.
In 2017, La Cacheta opened in the Bronx as La Bisco Cantina.
Carlo Ruiz is known for his signature dishes like the Bicce Cantina Biscotti, which is made with a traditional Mexican flour tortilla, and the Biscotta de Los Biscos, which includes a spicy chicken sauce and pork belly.
Carl’s daughter, César, runs La Bizos Cantina; her husband, Carlos, serves as executive chef.
Carloses Jr. also opened La Cuestion Cantina last year in Queens; he said the restaurant will be the only Chinese restaurant to serve a traditional menu.
Carlias Sr. is known as the father of American cuisine, having opened the first restaurant in America.
His family opened the La Biche in Brooklyn, which opened in 1896.
In 1871, Carl Jr. opened La Belle de Biciclet in New Rochelle, New Jersey.
In 1876, Carl Sr. founded La Belle Royale in New Hyde Park, Queens.
In 1903, the Cantina Restaurant in Manhattan opened.
Carlas Jr. became famous for his recipe for authentic Chinese restaurant cuisine, the La Cinco de Biscoles, which he adapted from a Chinese recipe.
He and his father made the dish as a way to offer comfort food to the Chinese community in Brooklyn.
In 1964, the family opened La Bonita in Queens and quickly grew into a chain that included more than 100 restaurants.
In 1986, Carl opened La Caravelle in New Jersey; it now has about 300 restaurants.
In 1986, Carlos Ruiza opened La Cantina Cantina on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
In 2006, Carl Ruiz reopened La Boca Cantina as La Bonica Cantina de las Biscones in Queens’ Chinatown.
Carlys Jr. continues to operate La Bocas Cantina chain, and has opened more than 20 restaurants in New England, including the Bocasa de Cantina restaurants in Boston, Connecticut and Providence, Rhode Island.
Carlans Jr. is married to Carmen, and they have three children: Cesar Jr., Carmen Jr., and La La.
Carlís wife, Cécile, is a teacher and author.