To begin I have to tell you that we have no idea what the restaurant looked like before the improvements made by Restaurant Impossible so this review is based solely on what the restaurant was after and not what is was before their visit. Prior to our journey, I looked over some of the reviews on TripAdvisor and Urbanspoon and there are some who say we liked it more before, if it's not broken, don't fix it and to those comments I say boloney. Although I don't know the specific reason why help was requested I have to believe that there were some problems and that changes were needed.
We arrived on a recent evening at their strip mall location on The Miracle Mile. My first reaction was that I did not like the area. Yes, there is plenty of parking but outside it is not what I would call nice, pretty or cute and certainly not the best place for a restaurant.
As we walked in, we were escorted to a table in the bar area. I looked around and immediately thought that Restaurant Impossible hit the mark on the atmosphere. It is filled with many light colors combined with a few darker tones. There are white tables throughout with a small bar for those that would like an adult beverage. You will also find Mexican themed items on the walls including my personal hanging favorite, a parrot holding a bottle of Corona. It is this mix that gives the restaurant a fun feel that is ideal for this location.
Our waiter came by quickly after we were seated and we ordered up a couple of margaritas. My wife had the grande and I sampled a smaller of the same and they were both well made. They did provide chips and salsa and although we liked the chips we were not fond of the salsa, it was good but too much cilantro for our taste.
We looked over a smaller menu and I approve of how it is divided. They have appetizers, soups, salads, Chef Irvine entrees, vegetarian dishes and classic entrees along with lighter items and desserts.
For the appetizer we decided on the chicken taquitos, I was not sure about this one but needlessly so, they were thin and fried, almost like a mini chimichanga with a crunchy outside and a soft inside filled with tender chicken. These were served with salsa and a chipotle sauce for dipping. The later sauce was delicious combined with the taquitos, I strongly recommend this appetizer.
We had a tough time deciding on dinner, and although we each wanted to try something different, we ended up going with the enchilada. These are corn tortillas stuffed with tender beef covered in a enchilada sauce served with rice and beans. We were split on these, I loved them and thought that the sauce was a wonderful complement to the entire dish. My wife wasn't a fan of the enchilada sauce and expected them to have a bit more cheese and was disappointed. I have to give the chef credit because both of these dishes were steaming hot when they came out of the kitchen including the plate, Well done!
The service was excellent, our waiter did a great job!
Based on our experience I believe that this restaurant is moving in the right direction. The food quality, service and atmosphere together are the reason that I am recommending Gusanoz. If you like Mexican food and live in the upper valley or if you are just driving through you should definitely give them a try, and for those that had a bad experience in the past it is time to give them another chance. In this case, Chef Irvine's magic worked.
PS: It is my understanding that the episode when Gusanoz will appear on Restaurant Impossible is August 29th. Check your local listings to be sure.