Summer evenings in downtown Boise have increasingly become an exercise in idiot avoidance. It's hard to enjoy dinner while attention-starved mid-lifers preen about on their only source of perineal stimulation, as they deafen us during their ostensible search for a place to park their bikes. Enter El Gallo Giro. Tucked at the end of the main drag in Kuna, this authentic Mexican restaurant does for my appetite what Harleys do for their owners' self-esteem.
The trip to Kuna combined with El Gallo Giro's dolce environ make for a culinary transfiguration. Whimsical scenes of village life cover the restaurant's walls, evoking the tradition of great Mexican muralists like Orozco and Rivera. Flags advertising Mexican beers are strung festively along low ceilings that are regularly obscured by steam erupting from hot, fanciful dishes being delivered to expectant diners. There is even a full bar towards the back that parallels a big glass case replete with bottled soda from Mexico. And the sincere greeting at the door makes you feel as welcome as a gun lobbyist at a Larry Craig fundraiser.
Start dinner off with a choice of miniature tacos that include goat, chorizo, beef tongue, tripe, chicken and carne asada. If that assortment of offerings sounds too proteinaceous, then you can redirect your sensitive stomach to an option of many different salads, or perhaps an avocado stuffed with shrimp and crab. Cokes come in big glasses, the Mexican beers are cold and the margaritas are liberally imbued with tequila. You won't be rushed as you dine with an assortment of patrons that look like they stepped off the set of The Magnificent Seven.
The main courses are huge and span Tex-Mex to authentic. My favorite is the Carne Borracha, delivered dramatically in a massive caldron made of volcanic rock with carne asada, jalapeños, onions and tomatoes waiting to be wrapped in a tortilla. I've invited many friends to El Gallo Giro because I think it's the best Mexican restaurant in the Valley, but my guests seldom agree. Their mole sauce, salsa and dishes like the Pollo Chipotle have disappointed but my impression is based on the whole dining experience. To draw conclusions based simply on the food would be about as myopic as buying a Harley, and not having enough cash left over for say, a haircut.
-Waj Nasser's is auditioning for the remake of Easy Rider.