In the food court of the Gran Plaza, where the Critic found himself yesterday feeling hungry, there used to be a Subway sandwich shop, where the sandwiches were bland and the employees wore plastic gloves to protect themselves from germs as they handled both money, utensils and food with those same glove covered hands. But, RIP, Subway, because they just weren’t making enough money or the rent was too high or they ran out of plastic gloves or something; the thing is they closed and well, we shouldn’t beat a dead horse.
Why is the Critic even mentioning the sandwich shop? Because in it’s place, a new and exciting food option was opened to the public, something so novel that it deserves a mention here. Ladies and gentlemen, Asadero Grill is serving up tacos. Yes indeed, tacos; something the Gran Plaza hasn’t seen before if you leave out La Parrilla and Los Trompos who are there in the old section of the food court plus Sport Tortas and Tacos and Arrachera Grill (plus yet another taco place that opened just recently) across the way in the new section. In their efforts to provide more culinary diversity, the Gran Plaza folks have decided that since people are lining up for tacos when the mall is full, why not allow another taco restaurant to open?
The Critic is not going to get into the whole mall exclusivity thing which means about as much in Mexico as the constitution of many modern countries ie nothing, but concentrate on the usual, nit picking critiques he has become so well known (and loved) for.
Someone mentioned that the nachos were good, and since the Critic has tried the nachos at Los Trompos, this seemed like a good place to start. A combo, featuring those nachos along with a refillable refresco and a mini styro bowl of frijoles charros (a bean soup for the unenlightened) will run you $64 pesos or about 5 dollars USD. You get 300 grams of meat; either bistek (beef) pastor (marinated fatty pork) chicken and something else. You can combine two meats if you like. The Critic ordered pastor and bistek, got a plastic cup and a number and waited a few minutes for the order to come up.
Once the Critic had his tray, with the salsas and the onions and the lime wedges and the soup and the nachos and the plastic cup and the cutlery and the napkins, he sat down to enjoy this giant Mexican lunch.
The thing that strikes you about Asadero is that it seems like an exact copy of Los Trompos, a well known and very successful operation that has restaurants in strategic locations around town and in the malls. Asadero has everything on their menu that Trompos has, including pizzas and stuffed baked potatoes. All the tacos and combos are there as well. The thing is, their prices are lower and this is bringing in the crowds, apparently.
Back to the nachos. These are the deep fried thick corn chips favored here, bathed in a rather earthy tasting black bean sauce, with a tasteless melted cheese, and covered in meat; chunks of bistek on one side, strips of pastor on the other. Somewhere in between is guacamole, along with some tomato slices and pickled jalapeno pepper slices. In other words, an exact copy of Los Trompos nachos, down to the placement of the tomato slices in the corners of the rectangular plastic plate!
Comparing the two, the Critic would say the Trompos version is a little tastier; the pastor meat and the refried brown beans are more flavorful. But the cheese is tasteless in either version and the salsas, which should be good, thick and zesty in a taqueria, are always disappointingly watery and bland.
Both make excessive use of disposable plastic and Styrofoam – their plastic cutlery is identical and useless for cutting or picking up a chunk of meat – and it is truly phenomenal the amount of garbage generated by not only the taco places, but all the restaurants in the food courts. Perhaps that will be something for another article in the future.
On a scale of Wow to Ew, this one rates Whatever.