Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Gringos Locos: A Downtown Drunk’s Best Friend

True, I visited Gringos during daylight hours but the feel of the place immediately alerted me that it’s really hoppin’ after the bars start shutting down. Open until 3am, it’s actually a quiet spot to grab a bite for lunch.

Gringos has a beautiful, straightforward menu which is efficiently broken down into 4 main categories- Lite Affair, Tacos, Burritos, and Full Affair (it probably keeps things simple when you’re not working at full capacity after a few shots). This afternoon, I opted for the Double D’s from the Tacos section- a hard-n-soft shell taco with cheese, your choice of meat, lettuce, pico de gallo, and sour cream (2 for $5.95) and OG Nachos ($5.75) from the Full Affair section- cheese, lettuce, pico de gallo, sour cream and ground beef ($1.75 extra).

First off, the service here is REALLY helpful and very friendly. Since yours truly is trying to be more healthful (especially when sober), the guy at the back of the counter piled on veggies in my taco- olives, diced tomatoes, jalapenos, and (delightfully) cilantro. It was a great revelation to find out that a taco, especially here, can give you an ample serving of nutritious vegetables… minus the innocuous ‘daily salad’ concept that I’ve being accustomed to lately. And to match that health-consciousness, he even suggested that I skip the sour cream to savor those fresh, herbaceous flavors. Who am I to counter such brilliance?

Salty, succulent pieces of dark chicken meat greeted my mouth like a long-lost lover. She enshrouded her allure with crisp lettuce and sultry kisses of freshly sliced jalapenos. The ultra-fine shredded white and yellow cheeses only cemented my appetite for her. The cilantro was particularly instrumental in giving the taco a beautiful, ethnic mouth-feel. And parlaying into that experience, the textural combination of soft and hard shell tacos in one bite made this dish an INSTANT ADDICTION.

The OG Nachos, in my opinion, are best eaten when you have the drunk munchies. To me, it didn’t really make a lot of sense eating weirdly sweet ground beef (a mixture of chipotle, spice, and brown sugar) heaped with a curious cheese sauce mixture only to be wetted down with tomatoes and sour cream. This lead to a very soggy nacho combination that sticks to the roof of the mouth. Freshly made right behind the counter, the dish became a sloppy mess within minutes. Delicious when drunk, not so much when sober.

IN A NUTSHELL: Gringos Locos is your stop after the bars (it’s catty-corner from I-Bar). It remains one of the few cool places that still give you GREAT DEALS IF YOU BUY MORE OF THE SAME ITEM (my tacos were 2 for $5.95, 3 for $8.00, or 4 for $9.75). They at least have 3 different types of hot sauces. Try to sit OUTSIDE- a mere hour inside the joint and my shirt smelled strongly like deep fried salsa (not really a good thing when you still have the errands to run). And if you want to impress your friends by getting your picture on their counter, you can try the Drunk Gringo Challenger Showdown where you try to inhale a burrito as fast as you can (the current time to beat is 1min 21secs). But please, have some dignity and barf outside the restaurant if the alcohol revolts inside you. That’s probably the reason why Gringos has 100% recycled paper napkins but no recycling trashcans for their canned and bottled beverages.
Gringos Locos on Urbanspoon

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