El Gallo Giro dining
El Gallo Giro's signature dish is a Molcajete Giro, which is a mortar (a traditional grinding stone) filled with carne asado, marinated chicken, chorizo, grilled cactus and Monterey Jack cheese dipped in a creamy Giro tomatillo salsa and topped with queso ranchero, grilled seasoned shrimp and green onion and stuffed jalapeno served with Mexican rice, beans and four corn tortillas at El Gallo Giro in Provo Saturday, September 2, 2006. Provo, UT - 9/1/06

It's not the shredded beef of Betos or the bean- and rice-filled burritos of Cafe Rio. El Gallo Giro Mex-Grill is its own brand of authentic Mexican food with prices to match the competition.

The restaurant has the atmosphere of the classic Mexican dining experience: dim lighting, dried peppers hanging on the walls and a Mexican soap opera playing in the corner. The one-room dining area wasn't crowded, or noisy, and the homey tables and chairs were exceptionally clean.

We started with the courtesy bowl of chips and salsa while we waited for our food. Like many Mexican restaurants in the area, the chips were made on site and came to the table still warm from cooking. The salsa was spicy and tasted more authentic than some of the stewed tomato variety salsas around town.

The Giro Burrito would have been better with more chunks of the delicious lime charbroiled chicken and less chewy bacon. With mainly lettuce and bacon inside you'll want to order one of six side dishes to go with your burrito. On the other hand, the chicken combo enchilada plate with two tortillas filled with meat and cheese was heavy on the tasty chicken with a side of rice and beans.

Because the restaurant is a Mex-Grill, we decided to try the Pollo Giro, flame-broiled marinated chicken served with two sides of your choice, and hand-made tortillas -- a dish the eatery boasts you won't find anywhere else. Be warned, if you order the Whole Pollo Giro for $12, you really will be served a whole chicken -- and this wasn't the size of a Cornish Hen, either. Stick to the One Quarter Pollo Giro if you're ordering for one.

If you're looking for the authenticity that the restaurant claims, order the large family size serving of guacamole. The friendly waiter will come to your table and make it in front of you in a large stone dish (complete with scary looking animal face) and a stone grinder.

The only drawback? We would have been more willing to try some of the unique dishes on the menu -- like a Torta, a Mexican sub sandwich -- if we could have read the small print. When you order at the counter, the overhead menu lists so many ingredients and options that we chose to order something traditional rather than try to read the tiny type. Don't let that stop you from trying this Mex-Grill style food -- we just recommend asking for the paper takeout menu.