Beef Nachos $9.90 – Guzman y Gomez – Lunch @ Sydney CBD

Note: This blog entry is the first of many in my attempt to discover and share dishes in the Sydney CBD that are suitable for a quick, cheap and cheerful lunch. The most I will pay for a meal is $20, while the average meal will be below $10, and the condition is that the lunch can fit into the 1 hour lunch break most of us have. This means that the trip from Town Hall to the restaurant and back, including the time to feed, is equal to or less than 1 hour. The focus is on just one dish which can provide a quality lunch within a restricted time and budget, in a city where lunch time can be a treacherous affair.

With locations in Newtown, Bondi Junction, the Cross and Australia Square, Guzman y Gomez (GYG) is hardly a well kept secret. But the MLC Centre branch is right across the road from the office, so this one is a quick win. Housed in a food court that is otherwise devoid of any culinary merit – think expensive sambos, bain marie mock-Chinese, overcooked pasta and a Muffin Break – GYG’s successful formula (Tasty, Unique, Affordable and Fast) brings salvation to the working masses. Its popularity is apparent, as is evident by the huge number of staff servicing the hordes of office workers queuing up for their daily dose of anything with pico de gallo, the omnipresent condiment of fresh tomatoes, onions and coriander that is served with, well, everything.

Staff members this nice are hardly found working in a fast food joint. Big welcoming smiles, cute accents and helpful suggestions make you forget that this place makes its money from being a churn machine (keep an eye out for Superwoman who can wrap a burrito in under 15 seconds), and with food this good, any comparison with the likes of MacDonald’s goes out the window. Which is a good thing. The menu is packed with what we perceive as typical Mexican food: tacos (soft and hard shell), burritos and quesadillas. The idea is that you choose a filling – chicken (not bad), steak & onion (good), pork (good), beef (great), barramundi (avoid) or veg (boring, get a life) – and your carbohydrate wrapping of choice, take a ticket and wait till your number is called (screamed). Burritos are tasty but slightly stodgy, and combine two diametrically opposed ingredients: rice and bread (the tortilla wrapping). Unlike blue and green, which might be seen together if there’s something in between, rice and bread should never be friends even in the company of cheese. As we no longer live in times of extreme poverty where we have to bulk up our food with excess starch, ask them to hold the rice, and enjoy a much better burrito.  I know this might go against all manner of convention and tradition, but the black beans will provide you with sufficient carbs, I promise

I can safely say that I’ve tried mostly everything on the menu, and though the burritos are great and the hard tacos are not bad at all, my hands-down favourite has to be the beef nachos. The nachos themselves are pure corn chip crunchy pleasure, but add to that full-flavoured, slow cooked shredded beef along with cheese, guacamole and pico de gallo, top it all up with any of the complimentary chilli sauces, more freshly diced onions and chopped coriander, and what you have is something that is greater than the sum of its parts. Absolutely delicious, and for $9.90, lunch at the MLC Centre has never looked more attractive. Now if only they churned out those frozen margaritas they serve in Newtown, I’d be set for a proper day’s work at the office.

Guzman y Gomez MLC Centre
Level 6 (shop 14) MLC Centre Food Court
Martin Place (Cnr Castlereagh Street)
Sydney NSW 2000
Phone: 9221 1777

13 Comments

  • i’ve had the beef nachos at the newtown guzman y gomez. nachos are always a good lunch option 🙂
    .-= tangerine eats´s last blog ..African Food Safari: Doro Wat =-.

  • bring on the frozen margaritas in the city for lunch. how cool would that be! veg(boring, get a life) HEHE. have you tried Mad Mex in the AMP Plaza Foodcourt Circular Quay? i wonder if they’re just as good? might be too far for you to get to and back within an hour? 🙂
    .-= Simon Food Favourites´s last blog ..Ben & Jerry’s: Free Cone Day 20 April 1-8 pm, Manly (15 Apr 2010) =-.

  • Great review! Although I don’t agree with the ‘blue and green’ saying (my old ‘uniform’ was a green t-shirt with blue jeans, remember?), I DO agree that rice and bread and cheese and beans equals too much stodge. Ingesting a burrito for lunch wouldn’t fit in with you rules as you’d need to factor in time for a post-lunch nap, too.
    Great photos, I’ve never had the nachos from GYG but i LOVE the design of the place.
    .-= lili – pikeletandpie´s last blog ..Egg, tortilla, salsa. =-.

  • I didn’t even know rice could be put into burritos. Sounds weird to me. These nachos look great and so meaty.
    .-= Mark @ Cafe Campana´s last blog ..Everybodies Favourite – Beer Can Chicken =-.

  • Sara says:

    I think after a burrito and a margarita I would be ready for a nanna nap more than work ;p

    Loving the concept of lunches under $10 and being able to fit it into your lunch hour. Looking forward to future reviews.

  • I had a burrito from here during my first week 🙂 My taste buds are still accustomed to all the Mad Mex burritos I had at my old work, a bit different to GYG’s. Going to have to try the nachos next
    .-= felix @ tastedbytwo´s last blog ..Lotus – Potts Point =-.

  • That does look like great nachos! I love Mexican food!
    .-= tasteofbeirut´s last blog ..Lebanese Tostada =-.

  • Hurrah for food reviews 🙂 I always feel a strange sense of guilt if I eat nachos for a meal – I can hear my mother in my ear telling me it’s just a plate of overdressed corn chips. lol.

    But then she’s the worst perpetrator when it comes to food sins. You want carb-on-carb action? Try spaghetti bolognaise with rice. I kid you not!
    .-= Helen (grabyourfork)´s last blog ..New Shanghai, Chatswood =-.

  • I love you photography! I have never been much of a mexican food fan but have to say you have made beef nacho’s look very appetising indeed. Fusun 🙂
    .-= Fusun (feastingwithfriends)´s last blog ..breakfast for dinner =-.

  • “As we no longer live in times of extreme poverty where we have to bulk up our food with excess starch, ask them to hold the rice” LOL! Fantastic review and brilliant idea.
    .-= Amy @ cookbookmaniac´s last blog ..Ju Ju at Kings Cross – Best Value Wagyu Steak =-.

  • CaroQ says:

    That guacamole looks good . . . can you please send me some? I live in the Pacific Northwest of America. Or maybe you better not, it would be brown before it gets here! If you don’t care for “bread” and rice, think of it as Mexican (or Spanish) flavored rice with a CORN wrapper. It ain’t bread, mister! LOL ~ I’ve never thought of it your way but, I guess you can consider it bread (but it isn’t) ;).

    I do wish you were here in Seattle area so I could actually get some use out of your great food reviews. Keep up the good work!

  • Fouad says:

    tangerine eats – aren’t they good! awesome stuff

    Hello Simon – Margaritas all round I say. I haven’t tried Mad Mex (it is a bit too far, maybe for those lunches where I don’t go back to the office)

    Lilililililili – I also remember your hair at some point was blue and green (looked great). I don’t know about these proverbs, there must be some sense to them! It is a funky design too! And what better place to take a nap than at your desk?

    Mark – Yeah, rice with burritos is quite normal really. But I don’t agree with it.

    Hi Sara – I hope I can keep these reviews coming, I’m almost already out of options 😛

    Felix – We’ve already discussed this I guess, but mate, next week for lunch we should head to GYG

    Joumana – they probably don’t compare with the ones around your part of the world

    Helen – your story will haunt my dreams forever! Spaghetti and rice! I knew the Chinese ate rice a lot, but with pasta, that’s taking it too far!

    Fusun – these aren’t your average beef nachos, but my photography is also amazing, of course, with all humility 🙂

    Hi Amy – I’m glad you enjoyed the review, and happier that it made you chuckle hehehe. thanks for reading!

    CaroQ – Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment from halfway around the world! I’m glad you are enjoying the reviews. At least, when you’re in Sydney some day, you’ll know where to go for a cheap, tight a$$ lunch. I’ll vac wrap some guac and send it across. Strangely, I don’t think their rice is flavoured. I believe it’s good old plain boiled rice or something. I have to say, I think at least technically, a tortilla wrap is bread (same way Lebanese bread is bread), but I understand your point of view. Do you prefer it with rice? I find the flavours are stronger without.

  • CaroQ says:

    Hi Fouad!

    Thanks for the shout out. Today, as I was reading some of my favorite blogs (Yep, you’re in there too) I saw this photo and I hope I can show you what rice should look like when it’s added to a burrito. I cannot imagine Plain White Rice being used; no wonder you don’t like it (Yuck for me too!). Anyway, try http://crepesofwrath.net/ for the date of 4/21/10.

    P.S. I love the short cut garlic sauce and that there is a lot less to make!

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