I checked out El Sur at the behest of Cathy. It’s at 22nd and Craycroft in a renovated house which lends it a certain charm. I had driven by many times and been intrigued but never gave it a shot. Cal and I met Cathy and Matt there and were also promptly joined by Colin who sat at a weird angle at the table and made me look into his fake eye while he gulped Dos Equis. Cathy and Matt same sided and ordered the exact same thing, which in restaurant people watching terms is the “double whammy.”
Same siders they’re into it.
I had heard so much hype from my fellow companions that I wasn’t sure if I was even going to like El Sur. But it turns out that you can forgo Public Enemy’s sage advice and believe the hype on El Sur. It’s got a wide range of dishes, from chicarron to cabeza, as well as your standbys. I went a la carte on them ordering a carne asada burro, a cabeza taco, and a chicarron enchilada. The carne asada was perfect, well seasoned and sans fatty pieces of grizzled up steak (Thanks a lot, Nico’s). The cabeza taco came topped with cabbage, so much so that it made the taco impossible to eat with my hand. I had to eat it with a fork, nobody wants to eat tacos with a fork. The chicarron was delicious (if you don’t know what chicharron is it’s fried pork skin) but didn’t really work in an enchilada. Cal had some sort of carne asada platter that came with rice beans and extra tortillas. He raved about it as he always does. At first I thought Cal just liked everything he ate but I’m starting to suspect now that he just orders well. He also demanded a cheese crisp as he is wont to do and was rewarded with a green chile and chicken combo that was neither soggy nor burnt though still somehow lacking real punch. Cathy and Matt’s carnitas seemed more akin to chili verde. I’m actually going to call El Sur out on this one and say they should change the name on the menu. Carnitas should be roasted at some point, or the skin should be crisped in some way. But I don’t want to disparage El Sur too much, the dish Cathy and Matt ordered was tasty, I just think it should’ve been called chile verde. Cathy and Matt had also received an order of guacamole before Cal and I arrived. It was rich and creamy, they avocados are supposed to be. It was also just slopped on a plate the way guacamole should be.
I also have to mention the prices and the service. El Sur is fucking cheap. I didn’t see an entre over ten dollars and I think they may have capped out at 8.50 for shrimp fajitas. Shrimp fajitas are easily running you double that anywhere else. Though I can’t vouch for their size or deliciousness, based on what I ate, they gotta be pretty good. I think it worth mentioning as well that Matt’s horchata came with free refills. The service was impeccable as well. While we may have encoutered our best individual sever at Kingfisher, the best overall service we’ve ever received was at El Sur. At one point Cathy dropped her fork and before it could even stop bounching around a server was at her side with a new one.
I was pretty impressed with El Sur, I’m going to give it 8 and a half dropped forks (forks dropped because food tastes so good). As for our vegetarian friends, I’m afraid they may want to skip this one. There’s plenty of other good Mexican restaurants with better meatless options.
Dorks on the ‘net:
“The food is great, especially anything with Chicken.” – Eric D.
“John’s good-sized chimi…” – Tucson Weekly
“I just prefer the thinner ones.” – Tucsontravlero