Guadalupe Grill a family-centric South of the Border fiesta for the right price

Deidre Schipani – Wednesday, February 27, 2013

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Brad Nettles/staff
The Guadalupe Grill in the Sea Island Shopping Center in Mount Pleasant.

Guadalupe Grill

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Guadalupe Grill

Cuisine: American-Mexican, Tex-Mex

Category: Neighborhood Favorite

Location: 1220 Ben Sawyer Blvd., Mount Pleasant, Sea Island Shopping Center

Phone: 284-8745

Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday

Bar: Beer available

Food: 3

Service: 3

Atmosphere: 2 ½

Price: $

Costs: Appetizers $5.65-$8.20, soups $4.25-$6.40, salads $6.45-$8.45, tacos $2.60-$3.95, quesadillas $55.60-$7.55, burritos $6.55-$8.15, desserts $1.50-$1.95, sides $1.25-$2; children’s menu 2.95-$3.95; GG Freeze, signature frozen fruit drink 95 cents-$3.45, beers $2-$3

Vegetarian Options: Yes

Wheelchair Accessible: Yes

Parking: Shopping center lot

Other: Small, outdoor seating area; catering, signs and many coastal decorative items available for purchase; eatguadalupegrill.com, www.guadalupegrill.com; Facebook; carry-out, GG Freeze Beach Buckets. Look for Lenten specials on Fridays during Lent and check out their Facebook page, mobile app and moneymailer.com for coupons and specials.

Sly and the Family Stone’s 1971 hit “It’s a Family Affair” entered my head during a recent visit to Mount Pleasant’s newest Mexican eatery, Guadalupe Grill, which opened in November.

The whole Buehler family is in on the action and they aim to please.

The grill is located in a former Chinese carry-out that has been given a new lease on life in shades of mango, aquamarine, sea glass greens, melon and tropical punch red.

Island aphorisms punctuate the wall space and the vibe is somewhere between Bob Marley and Bobby McFerrin. No Aztec murals, no mariachis, no ethnic folk art. This is a “life is good at the beach” kinda place.

The menu offers the typical American-Mexican cannon with a nod toward the southern state of Sonora and the Baja peninsula.

Expect to see fish tacos ($3.95) topped with the traditional cabbage, not lettuce, and blanco (white) sauce as well.

The Sonoran-style hot dog ($6.55) is candy-caned in bacon, griddled, placed in a bolillo-like bun and topped with onions, mustard, pinto or black beans, Jack and cheddar cheeses, pico de gallo, tangy blanco sauce and for an additional cost (65 cents), guacamole. It is a messy but tasty mouthful, reminiscent of a Chicago-style hot dog with all of its neon glory.

House-made white corn chips with fresh salsa are quickly dispatched to your table. The flavors are fresh, the chips are not greasy but the salsa itself is quite mild. The rich and layered nuances of jalapeno and serrano chilies are missing but the flavors of freshness rule and that suffices.

A signature dish, the GG crisp ($5.65) is a Mexican pizza: a crunchy flour tortilla is topped with cheeses and salsa and baked to an ooey-gooey finish. You can have it “your way” with beans, bacon, beef, chicken, carne asada or carnitas for $7.45.

Nacho lovers do not despair as nachos are offered as traditional chips ($7.15-$8.20) and also as nacho fries ($7.15-$8.20) with each base (either chips or fries) being layered with queso sauce, cheeses, beans, pico de gallo, olives, jalapenos and sour cream.

I really liked the addition of soups to the menu. Among them are a simple tomato soup with cilantro and lime ($4.25), a more complicated tortilla soup ($5.45) made with either grilled chicken or seasoned ground beef, and a robust chicken and rojo (red) rice soup ($4.25) with roasted corn and a topping of sour crema and cheese; add avocado for (95 cents). The latter was well-seasoned and a balanced combination of chicken, rice, tomatoes and broth. Hot sauce is available to adjust the spiciness of any dish. We found most dishes quite mild.

Vegetarians will find a veggie burrito loaded with grilled vegetables, cilantro rice, black bean and corn salsa with chopped romaine and guacamole ($6.55), cheese or bean quesadillas ($5.60), grilled fish or shrimp tacos ($3.95) and a meatless fajita ($7.55).

Sides of cilantro or rojo rice ($1.50) and black or pinto beans ($1.50) keep the prices low and meals well-balanced.

The Sonoran street taco with carne asada ($2.60) was fresh and juicy with just a hint of pinkness in the grilled meat. A Tex-Mex taco was served in a crisp white corn shell and benefited from well-timed cooking and a freshness that characterized all of the ingredients at Guadalupe Grill.

Children are not forgotten here and each “kid’s meal” comes with a small fruit freeze or a carton of milk. “Mini” defines the kids’ portions of crisps ($3.25), quesadillas, ($3.25) burritos ($3.45) and fries. ($3.25)

A plain hot dog ($2.95) in a traditional roll rounds out their offerings for youngsters. There are sea creatures for the kids to color and an aquarium to entertain and educate.

Corn chips are seasoned with cinnamon and sugar ($1.95) and super-sized cookies and brownies ($1.50) complete the dessert menu. Stick with the GG freeze and finish your meal with a frosty pina colada or strawberry “slush.”

This is a plastic place and that is my only objection: I think soup tastes odd in Styrofoam bowls and plastic cutlery is not always up to the task. It’s personal nit picking but I am sure that has kept the start-up costs low.

Lunch traffic is busy at this center; dinner, not so much.

Hopefully, spring, summer and tourist season will bring more diners to Guadalupe Grill.

A friendly, fresh, clean eatery that is cooking from scratch, comfortable with children and priced for the budget-cuts of 2013 deserves patronage.