Sunday, May 22, 2011

Guzman y Gomez vs Mad Mex

You have probably noticed, like I have, that Brisbane has recently been inundated with some interesting new Mexican fast food options.  This is good news to lovers of Mexican food like me who are more than a little disappointed by Brisbane's offerings to date.

This post compares two of these new entrants: Guzman y Gomez ( and Mad Mex (, both situated in Fortitude Valley.

Guzman y Gomez: Ruler of the smokehouse

Guzman is an Australian taqueria chain with seven stores in Sydney, and now one at Emporium, which is always bustling with activity.  It's named after the founder's two childhood friends who cultivated his love of authentic Mexican food.

Most people in Brisbane agree that Guzman is the best Mexican in Brisbane, and it is hard to disagree.  What's not to like about the great location, cheap frozen margaritas and tabasco on tap?

That's right people, they have pump packs of types of tabasco that you've never seen before!  I have managed to snaffle green tabasco and garlic tabasco at obscure delis before, but I've never found habanero tabasco and *drum roll* chipotle tabasco before EVER.  This stuff is like crack to me.  I have to restrain myself from putting my mouth under the nozzle.

But it's not just the condiments that make Guzman kick ass, mexi style.  It's the fabulous fillings and array of crowd pleasing dish types that you can mix and match that really gets you.  You can choose from chicken guerrero (spicy or mild), steak chipotle, beef guerrero, pork chipotle, barramundi and vego.  Make sure to add a dollop of guac.  The bbq and smokey taste pervades throughout.  Did I mention I liked smokey anything?

A good way to start off here is to order the quesadillas because you can get a 3 pack, and try out 3 different fillings.  Otherwise, go with nachos, tacos, burrito or naked burrito (i.e. no tortilla).

You order and pay for your food and beverages at the counter, take your drink and a ticket and wait for your meal to be brought out to you.  Be sure to watch out for your number being called, otherwise another ravenous patron may just steal it from you.

The burritos here are a neat little package, they come out with cute newspaper style wrapping, encased in tinfoil, kind of like a South American easter egg! 

You unwrap your shiny present and inside you find a bundle of cal-mex goodness.

It's all pretty delicious, but I would recommend the other meat fillings over the barramundi pictured.  Although I've got a mate who swears by it, I have just never been a fan of seafood in a burrito.  I hope to change my mind when I head to California in September this year!

Guzman y Gomez Mexican Taqueria Fortitude Valley on Urbanspoon

Mad Mex: Subway hepped up on tequila?

Mad Mex is a franchise quickly proliferating Australia with its Baja Cal-Mex takeaway food, founded by a Californian born couple who were frustrated with the lack of modern Mexican food available in Australia.  Looking at their website, their mascot bizarrely appears to be a cross between an Evil Kneivel-esque cage fighter and a gimp. 

Their Brisbane outpost is in the Brunswick Street Mall in the Valley and is perfectly located to capture the late night party crowd, and give the existing market (until now dominated by kebab vendors and New York slice) a run for their money.

The first thing that hits you when you enter Mad Mex on a Friday night though, is the resemblance it has to a Subway.
Honestly, it's a little off-putting as the waiters slap beans, shredded meat and guac all over your burrito in a similar style to the pimple faced kid that serves you your meatball sub around the corner.

If you're lucky, you might get to sit at the bigger table inside (which is pretty small) under this beer bottle light chandelier while you're serenaded by the soothing soundtrack emanating from the RG and Kaliber across the mall.  If you're really lucky you might get to see some Gen Y's on pills punching each other in the face in the middle of the mall.

Now I've got to admit, I was actually surprised how much I liked the burrito here.  Like Guzman's you choose your style (taco, nachos, burrito etc.), your filling, but also your salsa - and of course add guac.  I chose the slow roasted beef.  As they slapped more and more on this sucker, I was concerned it would be too big to wrap.  I was wrong.  These people knew what they were doing.

There was no neat little Guzman style package - this was a Baja monster, ready to take over your digestive tract with reckless abandon.

Once you started eating this thing, you just couldn't stop.  We all seemed to enter into some kind of trance, focused on getting as much of this sloppy, juicy burrito into our bodies in as short a time as possible.
I mean just compare this to Guzman's photo.  There were no delicate smoky flavours and complimentary tabasco.  This thing was rough, ready and precisely the kind of thing the lovechild of an Evil Knievel style cage fighter and a gimp would choose to eat. 

I washed the burrito monster down with a $5 margarita (that is NOT TYPO PEOPLE).  And I've gotta say, the margarita shat all over Guzman's frozen version.  There was salt on the rim, it was sour, it was good.  I bloody loved it.

The other advantage Mad Mex has over Guzman is that it has dessert options.  And I'm talking churros.
Now they did dispense the churro mixture from a soft serve style contraption straight into the boiling oil. But hell - we couldn't stop munching on these deep fried sugared sticks dipped in warm chocolate.  Our resident pregnant lady went back for seconds!

Mad Mex Fresh Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon


So there you have it.  If you're wanting a casual, tasty, Mexican dinner with friends any time of the week, head to Guzman y Gomez and add lashings of tabasco.  If you're wanting to line your stomach with some rough and ready Baja-Mex and throw down a few tasty margaritas before heading out and getting shitfaced in the Valley, try Mad Mex. 

With both options, remember, black beans cause gas.

No comments:

Post a Comment