Guzman Y Gomez is a Sydney institution that has recently appeared in Brisbane at the upmarket Emporium complex in the Valley. It is one of a couple of quick service Mexican restaurants that have mushroomed up around the Valley area recently.
It is currently my favourite Mexican joint for the following reasons:
- It’s cheap
- It’s tasty
- It’s filling
- It’s casual
- I haven’t tried the other quick serve joints…
I’d never really understood why the traditional mexican joints around here insist charging a premium for what amounts to a dollop of bland mashed beans with rice and grated cheese. The taste vs value equation never added up. Although I ended up full, it was more out of obligation to not waste it rather than enjoying it. The only other Mexican joint I really enjoyed before this was in London… and I forget the name of that.
Me and my meat eating Amigos met up for a Sunday arvo casual lunch. Situated in the trendy and some would say pretentious Emporium complex, you would think that a casual fast food joint would be out of place amongst all the posh boutiques and pricey eating establishments. But oddly it seems to work. I guess the GYG market analysis found that the BMW and Audi driving crowd are also feeling the pinch of the economic downturn and are in need of some cheaper food alternatives.
One of the most annoying aspects of the Emporium complex is the parking. There never seems to be enough of it. You pretty much drive around the circuit till someone pulls out. It’s the luck of the draw. One advantage of this is you get to check out what cool cars are parked. On this particular occasion there is a Bentley convertible and Aston Martin DBS along with the bog standard BMW, Audis, Mercedes, etc. You also get an occasional Toyota or Holden if you’re lucky. I am fortunate today and find a park relatively quickly when a shiny new red Merc serendipitously pulls out. I put my indicators on and fill the space between the Land Rover and Lexus with my bashed up Toyota.
Entering the restaurant, I could not help noticing the open and airy atmosphere and tasteful use of rough and industrial elements. The unfinished concrete flooring, raw red brick and rough sawn wood of the counter was modern and tasteful. The rusty bare bulb chandalier and bench seating in the dining area all come together to give a relaxed outdoor dining experience. This type of setup lends itself well to the mild Brisbane weather and suits this style of food. What else could be better than having a few tacos and kicking back with some Coronas or a Frozen Margherita on a lazy Sunday afternoon?
We did not have to wait long before we were greeted by a friendly “Hola” to place our order. The menu is not too complicated and features three main types of meals: Tacos, Quesadillas and Burritos. You then simply pick one of the seven fillings available. Apparently you can mix and match fillings too! Unfortunately, only one of the seven fillings is vegetarian, the others being fish, cow , chicken or pig based. The choice for Vegos is therefore simplified. I chose 2 hard and one soft taco with vegetarian filling and a frozen margherita.
After ordering, I was handed my drink and I then proceeded to the all you can grab condiments bar. Being a big fan of value and all things spicy, it was love at first sight. I grabbed a liberal amount of jalepenos and a container full of each of the three Tabasco sauces and proceeded with my table number to a nice sunny spot with good views of the rich folk passing by.
About 5 minutes later, our meals arrived. The frozen Margherita was refreshing and slightly tangy however seemed to lack any real kick. I can’t be certain how much tequila they put in there in the first place, but for $8.50 you’d hope that there was a generous serving of alcohol. It also probably doesn’t help that the slushy mixture is being churned around all day in the machine and therefore contributing to the evaporation of the all important ingredient . So I wasn’t too impressed with what was essentially a 7 eleven slurpee.
The 3 tacos were enough for a light meal and came with a generous serving of guacamole. I proceeded to scoop the guac into each of the tacos and placed a generous serving of Jalapenos and Tabasco on top of this. I took a bite of the Soft taco. They double up on the soft shell as it would be too floppy otherwise. It was really satisfying and soft and had just the right amount of give to it. I tried the hard taco next. It had a good solid crunch and the toasted corn taste really stood out. I think out of the two I favoured the cripsy texture of the hard tacos. They have a distinctly thick and robust texture that is completely different to that of supermarket bought taco shells.
The mixture of beans, salsa, capsicum and mushrooms was nice and chunky and had a subtle hint of mexican herbs and spices with none of the pureed blandness of other mexican meals I’d tried. However it is helped substantially by the fresh guac and tangy jalepenos. The addition of the Chipotle Tabasco sauce just takes it to the next level, the smokey chilli aromas complementing the savoury filling perfectly. The other two sauces didn’t really hit the spot for me, the habenaro sauce being over poweringly hot and the green sauce being too sour.
Since this outing I have also tried the burrito and nachos and quesadillas. The burrito is well sized and infinitely more filling than the tacos. It is a fat foil wrapped parcel crammed full with rice, cheese, guac and the same filling as the tacos. The tortilla that wraps it has a great texture, being soft and stretchy. This is definitely my first choice if I’m coming here for filling dinner.
The nachos are also tasty. It’s just corn chips with the veggie filling, guacamole, salsa and cheese. However it’s the texture of the corn chips that makes this meal. A nice, thick solid crunchy texture…
And the Quesadillas… I’m not really sure if there is much difference between it and a soft taco. Just more cheese really.
You can see the trend here. The fillings (for vegos) are basically all the same. The difference is the outer wrapping. I wouldn’t be buying tacos, quesadillas and burritos all in the same meal… it would be so boring!
And the Margherita is a complete waste of time. It may as well be non alcoholic and sell for $4.00. I’ll buy a Corona or try one of their other imported Mexican beers
However if are in the mood for a taco OR a quesadilla OR a burrito, then this is the place to come for your Mexican fix. I enjoy it each time I come, the main issue being parking during the busy periods of dinner time and the weekends.
Name: Guzman Y Gomez
Address: Multiple Locations. This review: Emporium – 1000 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley 4006
3 Tacos (2 soft, 1 hard) $10.50
Frozen Margherita $8.50
Other Vegetarian Options:
Guacamole and Corn Chips $5.00
Salsa and Corn Chips $5.00
Vegetarian Black Beans $3.50
Corn Chips $2.00