El Gallo Grill (f/k/a Gallo's Grill)
The wife and I made our first visit to the newly reopened El Gallo Grill ("Gallo's Grill") today. I mentioned to the waitress that I, and many others, have been waiting a LONG time for this day -- she was very aware of that fact!
They've only been open a week now (10 Dec 2011), and it shows a bit, but they'll undoubtedly iron things out quickly. The staff seems to be mostly veteran restaurant workers, and there was very little to complain about service-wise.
After taking our orders, we were presented with a nice, big basket of very average tortilla chips (maybe they'll upgrade those in the near future), a very nice salsa (made on the premises, of course), some fresh jicama slices dusted with chili powder, and some pickled red onions drizzled with lime juice.
After a good 15 to 20 minutes (look at the bottom of the menu for the disclaimer about wait times and the goodness of grilling over wood!) we received our food. My wife had the Carnitas Brocheta Tacos ($8). Very moist, expertly grilled, yet somewhat lacking in flavor. Will try again in the future...
I had the New York Steak Torta ($10). Moist, expertly grilled with a perfect amount of smokiness, enjoyable! I'm used to your average SoCal torta being jam-packed full of cheese, avocados, beans, etc. -- this ain't that. Meat, a smear of crema, some lettuce. That's it.
All dishes come with a choice of ONE side -- the wife had the rice, which was nice, and I had a small bowl of the basic frijoles de la olla.
Worst part of the visit was the fact that the beer menu has PBR but not Negra Modelo? Ahem, but WTF? If I'm gonna have a beer in a Mexican restaurant, it's got to be a Negra Modelo!
Will visit again...
El Gallo Grill
4533 E Cesar E Chavez Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90022
For now I'd say Yes, there are better alternatives in the area. Certainly not worth the drive from Torrance (where we live) solely to eat there; but we were in the area and gave it a shot.
It shows promise, and they need more time to get up to speed after a seven year absence. I'll return in the spring and check the progress -- looking forward to hearing more trip reports in the meantime...