By Stacey Hanks–
Think street tacos, fresh salsa and Coca-Cola in a glass bottle. If the idea of bringing the tasty fare of an authentic Mexican taco truck to a sit-down diner sounds appealing, then you may want to check out Guacamole Grill.
Opened just this past Saturday in the Grand Oaks Shopping Plaza at 7697 Auburn Blvd., the new eatery is the hard work of owner Arnulfo Quiroz and Manager Maria Rosas, who together say they put in more than seven months of planning and preparation to bring the restaurant to realization.
With everything being made from scratch, even the homemade fresh flour tortillas that come served with meals, Quiroz gives credit for the food to Rosas, who says she’s helped to open nearly a dozen other restaurants.
“All of the recipes are my family’s,” Rosas told The Sentinel in an interview this week. “I learned to cook when I think I was about 13 — my grandmother taught me.”
Familiar items such as tacos, fajitas, burritos and chili rellanos are featured on the menu, along with other choices that are less common in the United States but popular in Mexico and are often sold by “street vendors.” Those selections include “ceviche,” a fresh, light seafood dish that is “cooked” using the acidity of lime or lemon juice, as well as “elotes,” a Mexican version of seasoned grilled corn on the cob. “Alambres a la parilla” is also offered, which is a grilled kabob made with vegetables and a choice of meat, such as beef or chicken.
A salsa bar with different flavored salsas, including an avocado salsa and a variety of guacamoles, are also in the works. Fresh salads and “agua frescas,” a light fruit drink made by blending seasonal fruits or vegetables, like watermelon or cucumber, with water and a bit of sugar and lime juice will also be served daily.
Opening at 9 a.m. on weekdays and 7 a.m. on weekends, breakfast fare includes options like menudo and chorizo, which is of course made in house. Rosas said eggs will also be served throughout the day, with plans for more items to be added to the menu as time goes on.
First-time customer Cathy Graves said she stopped in after seeing the word “guacamole” on the new green and black sign outside the eatery.
“I love avocados,” she said, when asked about the food. “I was in Cabo San Lucas last year and this food is even better than that.”
When asked how the name came about, Quiroz said he liked the image the name projected, with the growing popularity of health benefits associated with avocados, and the food being Mexican.
The owner said the location, despite its small size, was exactly what he was in the market for.
“I was looking for some place that was close to what I like to do, which is hiking and being outdoors, and this place was close to that,” Quiroz said. “I told the real estate person that all I needed was an air conditioner and heater that worked; that I would do the rest.”
Briefly home to Ben’s Huli Huli Chicken and Hawaiian Cafe, which closed its doors late last year, Rosas explained everything inside is new from the floors up, including the kitchen and everything in it.
“We like how everything is new and clean, new tables and chairs, all of it,” she said.
While the doors opened for business with a “soft opening” on July 28, Quiroz and Rosas along with two other employees are still taking care of the finishing touches, such as “to go” menus, decorating, and fine-tuning how food will be served. Taco Tuesdays with $1 tacos and plans to serve beer are also in the works.
An official grand opening for the restaurant is scheduled from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Aug. 11, where the pair plan to introduce themselves to the community and offer free menu samplings and live DJ music.
“We are hoping that we can set up a grill out front for the grand opening, but we will see,” Rosas said.
Guacamole Grill is currently open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.