Monday, July 4, 2011
Many times in my day I've stumbled into a Mexican restaurant, holding my stomach due to excessive hunger pangs, reeling from cravings for crispy tortillas and spicy beef, only to stumble out of said restaurant, holding my stomach due to excessive tequila intake, reeling from intense G.I. distress. Despite a generally excellent, authentic Mexican taste, many of these restaurants also seem to use authentic Mexican water, and the after-effects can be horrific enough that a return visit almost always falls into the category of "bad decision." Luckily, Greece-based Los Gallos offers a great variety of homemade Mexican eats that are not only incredibly affordable, but also aren't mixed with laxatives.
I'm not 100% sure if this place is family-owned and operated, but the atmosphere and staff are both incredibly welcoming. Service is excellent, food is served hot, and portions are far more than generous for the price. Free, fresh, hot tortilla chips and robust salsa in unlimited quantities are a plus as well. The menu reads like a Spanish encyclopedia, or maybe a thesaurus for the word "delicious," so it's not difficult to find something for everyone. The fact that Los Gallos is open until at least 10PM every weekday and until 9PM on the weekends makes it a fantastic place to avoid the dinner rush hour as well.
Morgan and I have been here a number of times already, and have both become fans of the "Combination Dinners" section of the menu. Not only does each combo dinner come with at least two items, but the price is only $8.50 for each of the 32 selections. Definite bang for your buck.
My old standby is Combination Dinner #29, which includes a beef burrito, a chicken enchilada, and 2 beef tacos. This probably sounds like a lot of food to most of you, and to be completely honest, you're absolutely right.
The plate came out hot, steam literally billowing off of the dish in visible wisps. Warm red sauce covered both the burrito and the enchilada, but didn't seem to be completely drowning the items. A thin layer of cheese had been melted on top of both items as well. I decided to give the enchilada and burrito time to cool off a little, and tackled the twin tacos first.
Each taco was stuffed full of mildly-seasoned, finely-ground beef, pieces of shredded cheese, and shredded lettuce. The beef was great, retaining moisture without coming off as too greasy or fatty - it tasted quite lean, yet didn't lack any flavor either, partially due to the chopped bits of cooked white onion mixed in with the meat. The shredded cheese added just enough saltiness to the mix to not overpower, but rather complement the subtle spices of the beef. The crispy, fresh lettuce and delicate corn tortilla added the perfect crunch and texture to each bite. Easily one of the best tacos I've had in years.
After polishing off both tacos, I used my fork to dive into the red sauce-laden burrito and enchilada. The chicken in the enchilada was moist, soft, and slightly-sweet white meat, which went nicely with the starchiness of the soft flour tortilla it was wrapped in. The tortilla shell itself was able to soak up tons of flavor from the sweet and mildly-tangy red sauce, without becoming too soggy or unpleasant in texture.
While the chicken enchilada proved to be quite good, it leaned a little more heavily on the sweet flavors of Mexican cuisine, and lacked the heartiness and savory nature of the beef burrito. The beef's saltier flavor combined with the red sauce for a perfect salty-sweet dynamic that was truly easy to inhale (and that I truly inhaled). Little, sweet pieces of sauteed white onion were an excellent addition to the beef as well, perfectly rounding out the combination's flavor. Overall, this meal was beyond any of my expectations of Mexican cuisine in Western New York.
Besides a handful of exceptions, Mexican restaurants in Rochester tend to disappoint me, generally offering food made completely out of Ex-Lax, or Taco Bell-inspired slop (although, let's be honest - for those on a budget or those who are drunk, which I am often both, Taco Bell is the food of the gods). It's great to see a restaurant like Los Gallos thriving in Rochester, and not just due to cheap prices, but because of the top-notch service, huge portions, and quality food as well. For those looking for an authentic taste of Mexican cooking, check out Los Gallos - just be sure to bring your appetite.
Score (out of 10): 9.5
Location: 2700 West Ridge Road, Rochester, NY 14626
Phone Number: (585) 227-7718