Saturday, June 20, 2009

Los Gueros Mexican Restaurant

Exterior

Focusing back to exactly a year ago:

I had just redeemed some airline miles from United for our Boston trip so that we would have some gift certificates to use in Boston. I was able to redeem four certificates (worth 25 dollars) at Restaurant.com with my miles, but I only found three restaurants for our Boston trip. I didn't know what I would do with the last one.

Then, I looked at the restaurants near my local area and one restaurant that popped out was Los Gueros Mexican Restaurant. It didn't look familiar (haven't seen it before), but it was right in our area!

Months pass, and then I finally notice where it is. The gift certificate is still on the back burner, not used yet.

And what does it mean when I am now doing a blog post? It means we visited it. Finally :).

Interior

After parking at the adjacent parking lot, we went in and were immediately greeted by some of the Los Gueros staff. They seated us and their services came along. Our server came and gave us chips and salsa (the salsa had lots of juice in it and not too much of the ingredients (at times- later refills had more salsa and less juice), but was still flavorful, and the chips were freshly fried). Afterwards, he asked about what drinks we would order. We just asked him what he had available, and he promoted drinks like horchata and other beverages like a margarita. He didn't seem to want to settle with just plain old water. We ended up ordering a iced tea, which didn't have free refills.

And while we settled in, we also noticed the many awards, plaques, and thank yous for Los Gueros on the wall. The colors were certainly festive, and it almost felt like we were in Mexico.

Guacamole Cart

The guacamole cart came by our table (we were the only customers at the time...), and another server asked if we wanted guacamole. We agreed, and the server continued onto cutting avacados and taking the pits out, and then putting them into a stone looking bowl (actually it was plastic). Then, he mashed the avocados with two spoons. Meanwhile, he also asked us what we wanted- we picked everything on the cart, and told him not too make it too spicy. He applied the applicable ingredients from the tubs into the stone bowl and then mixed everything together, and to finish, he used the two spoons to create a flat top, and then used a piece of lime to wet the edge of the bowl.

Guacamole

Next, we used the existing tortilla chips to scoop up some of the guacamole, and one bite of it told me it was well made. There was no oversalting- it was a great mix of flavors, and you could taste every single ingredient the server put into making the guacamole. Most certainly it was better packaged than the stuff at the grocery store, but I could have made this at home easily. This was 5 dollars for not such a big serving- our server used about 2 avocados only.

We ordered our food after we had gotten the guacamole, and again we asked the server for some specials. He seemed to guide us more towards their seafood items rather than their other items. When we ordered the NY Steak, he also said, "I'll add some shrimp for you." I don't know if that would mean extra cost or it was for free. A nice gesture anyway though!

Speaking of being nice, the servers were really nice to us throughout the visit. There were constant refills of the chips and salsa (we had 3 refills...but they refilled with a new container even when we had just eaten 60 percent of the chips- did they throw it away (no!) or keep it (yikes...), I do not know), and constant watching of us.

Soon, all the three items we had ordered arrived at once. However, they also had corn tortillas being cooked on the griddle just for us. Weekends= freshly made tortillas.

Fish Tacos

I ordered the Fish tacos, which were one of the specials on the outside wall. Somehow, I seem pick a plate of fish tacos everytime I go to a Mexican restaurant that serves it. Anyway, the fish tacos were not of the fried variety- instead the fish was pan fried and then put onto two corn tortillas (you can pick flour tortillas too if you wanted to), which then was complimented by some salsa, white sauce, red cabbage, and cojita cheese. Unlike fast food company Rubios, Los Gueros didn't add too much red cabbage (yes!), but the cabbage was cut a bit thick and was a bit bitter too. The flavors melded together very well, although the cabbage sometimes stood out a bit. I think personally though that Zapata Vive!! Mexican Restaurant & Cantina's (a Mexican restaurant on First Ave. in Arcadia) version of the dish is slightly better.

Served alongside were some beans and rice, which were pretty flavorful and not completely bland. And on the dish was more than half of a lemon. We were happy with the lemons- I added them into my water glass for a refreshing drink :). Now...some sugar please? (not)

NY Steak with Shrimp Fajita

One of my dining companions ordered the New York Steak, after confirming with our server that it wasn't just a piece of regular steak you could have gotten at places like Garden Cafe or JR Cafe. And it was truly different. The steak was marinated in a blend of spices which you could taste, and the steak was pretty tender for the most part, with a good bite. Like promised, there was some shrimp fajita on top, and the shrimp was very juicy, and in general it added more flavor to the steak. Served alongside were guacamole and salsa (which made us feel like we shouldn't have ordered the guacamole...), rice and beans, a cheese enchilada, and a radish and a pepper, which looked more like a garnish rather than something to eat.

Seafood Fajita

My other dining companion ordered a big plate of seafood fajitas for us to share. It was a big dish with lots of bell peppers, onions, and pieces of halibut, shrimp, squid, and scallops, and the dish was seasoned with various flavors and spices. But that was just not the end of this dish.

Side plate for Seafood Fajita

On the side was a full plate's worth of nicely piped sour cream, shredded lettuce, various shredded cheeses, rice and beans, and diced tomato. Tons of food!

Corn Tortilla

Then came a cylindrical piece of plastic which housed at least 5 freshly cooked corn tortillas inside, which were certainly different than your normal corn tortilla. There wasn't any weird stale flavors, and the tortillas weren't thick like some commercial ones. Filling the tortillas with the fajitas from the hot plate as well as the plate of toppings was a very fun task, and was very fun to eat too. Enough to say, it was good enough for at least 2 or 3 people. And so, we had to take some home.

Any complaints? Well, later on, we found out that a whole chunk of the New York Steak was all fat. Yikes. We at the restaurant thought some of the fish in the fajita was not too fresh; however my fish tacos were fine.

Overall? The experience was very good, but a bit pricey due to the things we ordered. Unlike some places, this place doesn't have a lunch special menu, but the food was alright. They were pretty good in their seafood offerings- a wide variety compared to some restaurants, and the food was for the most part abundant and fresh. Service at Los Gueros was probably one of the best in the Mexican restaurants we have eaten at.

Will we return? Maybe. It is a bit farther out from most of the other Mexican restaurants that are pretty much equally as good as them (e.g. Paco's or Zapata Vive). But we'll return if we end up getting a good discount/ gift certificate. There are tons of their coupons, whether it be in the local coupon book, ad flyer, or online. And plus, on restaurant.com, there's 10 and 25 dollar certificates which sometimes cost really cheap. Definitely, there are some positives on this place, such as the freshly made tortillas (which weren't too mealy or weird tasting and didn't stand out too much when eaten with the other foods) and the abundance of seafood items, but some of the food wasn't too good, like some of the fish in the fajita and the big portion of fat in the NY steak (which they could have controlled by trimming some of it off or picking another piece of steak). I won't write off this place, as we have to yet try some other things, like the menudo which Yelpers are talking about.

Los Gueros Mexican Restaurant

313 W. Huntington Drive
Monrovia, CA 91016
Tel: (626)-358-0200

Los Gueros Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon

6 comments:

joanh said...

yum!! looks good!! the just alright mexican food in LA is i would be happy to have mexican food in Taipei. :) on a side note, have you ever had enchiladas not baked?!

EatTravelEat said...

joanh,

I remember reading your post on El Gallo! No, I haven't had enchiladas that weren't baked before yet, but like billy on your blog, I saw Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations where the mother of the family dipped the enchiladas in sauce and then served it.

foodbin said...

there are so much ingredients in the side dish.sure looks fulfilling!

EatTravelEat said...

foodbin,
Most certainly. At first, the waiter gave us that dish, and we felt that was good enough by itself!

tigerfish said...

Tried using gift cert from restaurants.com before. Not much choice of restaurants to choose from.

EatTravelEat said...

tigerfish,
Yeah, I agree. Many of the really popular restaurants that we like don't have it. But there are some restaurants that do that are popular, like Aji Man (which Wandering Chopsticks wrote about) and Red Ant Cafe (which I like). They get sold out way too quickly though!