Growing up in small towns across the West, there is one thing you'll notice. Just about every small town has a local Mexican restaurant as sure as they have a post office. Most of them are your average chicken enchiladas/chimichanga joints with baskets of warm chips, salsa and big glasses of iced tea, but occasionally you'll come across true gems of Mexicana-Americana cuisine.
I have been lucky to enjoy scrumptious chorizo and bean burritos smothered in extra-hot green chile sauce at The Armadillo in La Salle, Colorado. I worked as a busboy at El Sombrero in Commerce, Texas, where after hours we'd take over the kitchen and make burritos as big as footballs. At Los Nortenos, in Bryan, Texas, my Sunday ritual was to enjoy three chicken enchiladas smothered in brown gravy. Mexican food has always been a staple in my life. A bowl of green chile would duke it out with a pizza for my last meal.
So when the opportunity came to make the journey to Kuna to try El Gallo Giro, I jumped at the chance. Salsa and chips showed up as fast as I did and I was presented with a menu surprising in its complexity and depth, yet approachable for the average Idaho country bumpkin. Authentic favorites tempted me like Lengua en chile verde (beef tounge in a tomatillo green sauce), zope (handmade tortillas with beans, steak, salsa de tomatillo and cojita cheese), menudo (tripe chile) pozole, caldo vuelve a la vida (shrimp, fish and octopus soup) and molcajete sauces.
I decided on an appetizer, a half-stuffed avocado filled with shrimp and crab. It was fresh and light to contrast the carb-fest to come. I also had to have a couple of their "famous" tacos, small double-tortilla treats for $1 each in a variety of meat flavors including asada (steak), adobda (pork), cabrito, chorizo, cabeza (cheek), lengua (tongue), pollo (chicken), tripitas (tripe) and tinga (shredded beef). The waitstaff was attentive to my water glass and quickly brought the taco-treats-two to three are perfect for the ninos. But a great Mexican restaurant is nothing without a good enchilada, and I ordered a pair of chicken enchiladas smothered in the house sauce. If they can't get this right, they wouldn't deserve a return visit. Needless to say, I'll probably be going back next weekend.
-Bingo Barnes lassos armadillos for entertainment purposes only.