El Guero Canelo Review
Posted on April 5, 2010
I’ve spent every year of my life living in or around Tucson. As such, I consider myself somewhat of a local expert. For example, looking for a good burger? I know exactly where the best local In-N-Out is. Pizza more your thing? I am a veritable catalog of Pizza Hut locations. When it comes to Mexican food however, there is one local eatery that stands cabeza y hombres above the rest. That restaurant is El Guero Canelo (translation: The cinnamon-colored blonde…it is named after how friends apparently refer to the owner…apparently he has very literal friends). And there is one entrée’ that El Guero Canelo (hereafter referred to as EGC or THE EGC) is known for the sonoran hot dog.
An El Guero Canelo sonoran dog tastes like what I imagine a rainbow tastes like…except less gritty. The hot dog is covered in a myriad of toppings that one wouldn’t think should be paired with a hot dog. Well, let me suggest you stop thinking with your brain. Let your taste buds do the thinking for a change. There are tomatoes, onions, beans, jalapeño salsa, mayonnaise and mustard. And all of those condiments lovingly blanket a hot dog that is warmly embraced by several strips of bacon (And don’t let me start on the sweet, warm, melt-in-your mouth bun!). I am not going to lie, it took me several trips before I finally tried the sonoran dog. There are very few things I regret in my life (the incident with the leafblower and the armadillo being one), however I truly regret each and every time I visited EGC without buying a sonoran dog (I am sorry Mr. Canelo, and even moreso I am sorry own stomach). In a word, they are amazingly fantastic!
While the EGC sonorant dog is nearly impossible to beat in a taste test (unless the other combatant is a slice of Peter Piper Pizza…that fight would end in a draw my friend) it is not the only food item well worth the money at EGC. The Carne Asada burrito also rates an 11 on a taste scale to 10. In fact, this was the first item I ever tried at EGC. A (huge) warm, flour tortilla is packed with the best carne asada meat you have ever tasted (assuming you have tried the exact same variety of carne asada meats that I have tried over the course of my life). Carne Asada meat is tender cubes of beef from the Asada region of the cow. The carna asada is joined in the sleeping bag of flour by several other bedmates (for the record, the food’s relationship is purely platonic…and awesome!). There are beans, cabbage, and some sort of white cheese. I like to top off the burrito with a squirt of lime and a coating of EGC’s guacamole sauce. As you can imagine, the ingredients in the burrito combine to react in your intestine with resulting effects similar to swallowing a stick of dynamite. Montezuma does indeed get his proverbial revenge. Take a tip from me, it is totally worth it! (Here is another tip: within 3 hours of eating EGC, grab a book and strap yourself in for a while…sorry if that brazen statement offended anyone, a magazine would work too).
EGC has two convenient locations (if you are either in central or south Tucson). The original location on 12th and Nebraska gives the patron the feeling they are eating at a quaint outdoor taco stand in Mexcio. The restaurant is conveniently located just north of the house with hundreds of mattresses in the yard. Surrounding businesses kindly enhance EGC’s ambience by ensuring all of their text is in Spanish. Be prepared to wait in line if there is a lunch rush. Once you order however, the food is turned out extremely fast (or, muy rapido). This location may not be for everyone though. I would suggest you ordering “to go” if you are not a fan of flies/bees or if your preferred seating accommodations include a back rest.
The newest location is at Grant and Oracle. This location is fully enclosed and climate controlled. In my humble (but never wrong) opinion, the food at this location is slightly inferior to its southern cousin. For example, the guacamole sauce at the Grant location has a little too much guac and not enough mole. The food here still beats any other restaurant in town hands down (I would even say hands up for that matter).
If you haven’t already tried EGC, give it a whirl. Keep in mind, the restaurant does not serve many Mexican staples (which is ok with me…I always found the staples too pointy and metallic…Hey Yo!). You won’t find any enchiladas, chimichangas, or Nachos Bel Grande. However, there is enough variety to make the trip worthwhile. If you ever feel like heading to EGC and trying something new, give me a call!