Sunday, May 09, 2010

El Guapito

A few days ago I had the pleasure of getting takeout from El Guapito, just around the corner from the Central Branch of Enoch Pratt, a hop, skip and jump from the Basilica of the Assumption and the delicious dim sum of Zhongshan Chinese Restaurant. As one review on the wall at the beautiful, deep-brick-red walls notes, El Guapito is in a horrible location - not in terms of crime but in terms of traffic. That is, there isn't any. One would think it is centrally located for people to get to, but it's nestled just so that you don't really notice it. And that's a damn shame, because more people need to go to this place to eat. Seriously.

I mean it, seriously. Baltimore's Mexican food scene still pales in comparison to anything you'd find closer to the border (after 6 1/2 years of eating it in SoCal I can attest to this). But it's getting better, and now there are more Mexican restaurants in the city worth patronizing than ever before. El Guapito is one of them.

I went on Cinco de Mayo, a day that I knew there would be heavy business for just about any restaurant serving even remotely Mexican food. I did have to wait a while - one woman serving twenty people takes a while. But the food (which I ordered for take-out) not only came out hot but stayed hot on the drive home.

For my Cinco de Mayo lunch, I ordered a green tamal (tamale, $2.50) and three tacos ($2.75 each): chorizo, spicy pork and lengua (yes folks - tongue). I also ordered sides of rice and beans (about $3), which are complementary with most platters but not with with individual tacos.

The rice and beans were standard. I must say the red rice was a little saltier than I expected it. But I still liked it, with bits of corn and what looked like lima beans sprinkled throughout.

The tamal was wrapped up in a snug, flat banana leaf package, and opening it was an experience I haven't had in ages. The soft tamal inside managed to hide a good bit of pretty moist chicken. I'm not sure how it all managed to fit to be honest.

The tacos were so filling that I had to finish them the following day. No hard taco shell here (ick). These were the real deal: soft corn tortillas bulging and bursting with meat and onion, and accompanied by cilantro, cucumber, salsa verde and even more onions. My favorite was the chorizo, since I just happen to love chorizo. But I was also pleasantly surprised by the spicy pork: not dry, as some chunks of pork can be, with nice flavor. My least favorite was the tongue. I have ordered tongue elsewhere once or twice and wanted to be adventurous. It's not El Guapito to blame: it's tongue. Don't get me wrong. I don't regret ordering the tongue at all. It was quite good, if you like the flavor of tongue. Next time I will have to get the carne asada or the salty pork (either The Sun or the City Paper simply raved about the salty pork).

I am really hoping there is a next time. Now that I know where it is, I will have to go back. I hope you do, too, since this gem is nestled away in such a tough-to-find location. Make sure you get there for some of Baltimore's best Mexican food while it's still there!

NB: Since El Guapito seems to be so difficult to find, I'm going to try to embed a map to the place. It's something I should have been doing for years but I've never bothered. I hope I will keep up with this idea.

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El Guapito (Mexican) - 110 W. Mulberry St. (Downtown), Baltimore, MD 21201; Phone: 1-888-892-8157

El Guapito on Urbanspoon


Nakiya @ Taste of Baltimore said...

Yes! I loved that place! I'm glad you did too.