Apparently, March is Mexican Meal Month, at least as far as this column is concerned. Everyone I have spoken to wants to go to a Mexican restaurant, which leads me to today’s Why I Love Where I Eat restaurant: Guadalajara Grill on Prince.
Emma Muriel, a recent University of Arizona graduate and Comcast NBC Universal social media engagement specialist, has a lot of reasons for going to Guadalajara Grill, but mostly it’s the atmosphere she loves.
“Of all the Mexican food places that I have been to in Tucson, this one feels the most like home,” she said. “I get more of a sense of family and that I’m being cared for like I would in my own home and I think that’s why people come here. It’s always packed and … when you come to celebrate something, they always celebrate with you … they really go above and beyond.”
That’s true, judging by the number of people we saw walking out with foil hats and the number of times we heard the band play Happy Birthday.
As soon as you walk through the door of Guadalajara Grill, you know it is going to be a fun place full of color, aroma, and music. Hung throughout are paper cutouts known as papel picados and little shelves filled with miniature Mexican pottery. Others must feel the same way. Muriel and I went on a Monday night and although it was easy to get a table, the place was brimming with people.
The food isn’t far behind the fun in Muriel’s estimation. Because she had just received her very first cavity filling that day and was still a bit numb, Muriel opted for a bowl of pozole, a kind of pork soup with hominy. It was easy on the teeth and very easy on the tongue. Still, a bit of buzzing in her gums didn’t keep her from enjoying the freshly-made tableside salsa, which can be made with however much heat you desire. The made-to-order salsa at Guadalajara Grill is something Muriel really appreciates.
“The first time I came here I was a freshman in college and I was really impressed that they made the salsa to [my] liking,” she said. “Most restaurants just set a bowl down in front of you and hope that you like it but [Guadalajara Grill] has always taken really good care with asking what you like and what you don’t like and what temperature you want.”
Then there are the warm chips, the house-made limonada, and the mini beef chimis with sour cream and guacamole. It was enough food to feed both Muriel and her dinner companion, who was starving.
Of course, Guadalajara Grill serves lots of other items, such as fajitas, burritos, and combination platters. There are even vegetarian dishes. Then there are the libations, some non-alcoholic and many that demand a designated driver but are oh, so delicious.
No visit to Guadalajara Grill would be complete without a visit from the strolling trio, who plays almost any popular Latin song you can think of, including Guantanamera (Cuban), on request. Mostly people request songs like La Bamba and Spanish Eyes. We asked the strolling trio to play one of my all-time favorites: Perfidia, a beautiful song about a broken-hearted man. Really, the perfect song to end a perfect meal.
Color, flavor, music, fun and laughter: that is why Muriel loves where she eats.
Guadalajara Original Grill
1220 E Prince Rd
Tucson, AZ 85719