I have always been a big proponent of the idea that in the world of food blogging, reviews of restaurants fall into the â€œbell curve.â€ That is, the general consensus of a restaurant falls within that bell curve plus or minus a few outliers that account for restaurants having a bad day or the chef being ill or something else.
The downside is that every so often, I am the one who is the outlier on things. That is okay, though, because even the outliers provide insight into the inner workings of a restaurant and people get a broader picture of what to expect.
So, I found myself in Chandler and had been told by many kind souls that Guedoâ€™s Taco Shop on Chandler Boulevard served great tacos. Since I was in the area, I decided to check out the place because I am always up for tacos or any other Mexican goodies. The restaurant itself is in a stand-alone building on the south side of the street. I was expecting to find it in some strip mall, but the colorful exterior provided me a surprise. I pulled into the parking lot in the back and wandered around the front to the main entrance.
Once inside, I grabbed a paper menu and looked over at my options before approaching the counter to order. As I did so, I noticed that Guedoâ€™s did not take plastic to pay for my lunch, so I looked around and saw an ATM in the middle of the restaurant. Sadly, the network has not available and since I had no cash on me, I had no choice but to retreat from the eatery and double back down Chandler Boulevard in search of a bank.
After securing some cash, I returned to Guedoâ€™s and again parked and entered. I approached the counter and a rather uninterested staff member stared at me until I asked if this was where I placed my order. She nodded in the affirmative and I ordered a Cheese Crisp ($4.00) and two tacos ($2.80 each) containing the mixed meat filling. I was then asked if I wanted cheese or guacamole on my tacos, which would each be a separate charge. I declined the guacamole, but accepted the cheese ($0.30 extra per taco).
I then asked a very simple question: did they have any other diet drink other than Diet Pepsi. I was told that they did not. I then asked another very simple question: what other drinks beside soda pop did they offer. â€œI just said we donâ€™t have any other diet drinks besides Diet Pepsi,â€ the staff member barked at me. I got that point, but that wasnâ€™t the answer to my question. Seeing that this conversation was going nowhere I asked for a large lemonade ($2.00).
The tab for all of this was $13.19 which included tax. I thought that was pretty pricey for tacos and a cheese crisp, but, I paid, found a table on the patio, and waited for my number to be called.
Before doing so, however, I stopped at the condiment bar and picked up pico de gallo, some shredded cabbage, onions, a spicy hot sauce, lime wedges, cilantro and a mild salsa. The bar had a very good variety of choices and I was pleased to be able to select anything I wanted for my cheese crisp and my tacos.
When it was called, I headed to the counter to retrieve my order and was told that my tacos were still being made but that my cheese crisp was ready. I took the basket to my table and was disappointed by the fact that yet another Valley restaurant didnâ€™t know the difference between a cheese crisp and a quesadilla.
For the newcomers to the whole cheese crisp vs. quesadilla issue, a cheese crisp is a large flour tortilla that is set on a grill and then covered with cheese. The cheese melts and the tortilla gets crisp and everyone is happy. A quesadilla is a large flour tortilla that is covered with cheese and then folded over and (hopefully) cooked to melt the cheese. The tortilla may or may not be crisp, depending on the restaurant, cook or the like. Now, to be fair, upon further inspection of the menu, the small print said this cheese crisp was folded. Fair enough, but it still wasn’t crisp and folding it makes it a quesadilla.
So, what sat before me was indeed a quesadilla. Sadly, it wasnâ€™t a very good one. The cheese was warm and pliable, but not very melted and the tortilla was just a vehicle to get the cheese to my table. Even with the assorted condiments, this couldnâ€™t be saved. Calling it a disappointment was being charitable.
Just as I finished my quesadilla, my number was called again and I returned to the counter to retrieve my three tacos. The initial aroma was very pleasing and I was anxious to return to my table and dress my tacos. But before I could do so, I was treated a very strange question from the staff member. â€œWould you like me to show you how the condiment bar works?â€ I am not sure what the impetus was for that, but I simply declined her offer and headed off to my table to demonstrate my proficient skills at putting cabbage, onions, cilantro and hot sauce on my tacos. Perhaps I was a bit too sensitive, but I had to wonder if there really is a problem in this country of people not knowing how a condiment bar works.
I then returned to my table on the patio and dug into the tacos. The meat was a mix of beef and pork and I really enjoyed the spicing of the meat. It had a cinnamon-like aftertaste and just a hint of heat from the spice that I thought made the meat stand out from many others. Unfortunately, the tortillas were gummy and had a flat taste. I couldnâ€™t tell if they were simply stale, but these were not very good corn tortillas and I was picking out the meat filling and the condiments with my fingers because I was, at least, enjoying that part of the taco.
Due to the fact that the tortillas were less than thrilling, it also prevented me from enjoying the cheese that I had ordered as an extra for the tacos. In an unusual twist, the cheese had been placed between the two corn tortillas that housed the meat filling. It had melted and formed a glue between the two tortillas. While novel (at least in my experience), I was not very keen on this set up because the taste of the cheese got lost in the flavor (or lack thereof) of the tortillas. I didnâ€™t even notice the cheese until I was eating the meat with my fingers and noticed some of it oozing out from between the tortillas.
After finishing my meal and my drink, I exited the restaurant via the patio entrance and headed back to the car. It was a completely disappointing experience. The place was fairly busy, so I assumed the other patrons were having a better meal than I did. As I made my way back toward Phoenix, I couldnâ€™t help but be thankful that I didnâ€™t make a special trip out to Chandler just to try Guedoâ€™s.
I wish I knew why my experience at Guedo’s was different from so many others, but it is what it is. Ultimately, the tacos would have had to have been exceptionally stellar to get me to return because at $2.80 apiece, I thought they were expensive.
Adding that to the drive from Arcadia to Chandler, and there needed to be something more.
Guedo’s Taco Shop
71 East Chandler Boulevard
Chandler AZ 85225
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday – 11 AM to 9 PM; Closed Sunday and Monday.
Notes: Bring cash.
Alcohol: Limited menu featuring beer, tequila, Margaritas and Pina Coladas.