Comida Fantástica at Guadalajara Original Grill

Mason and A.J.
April 25, 2022

purple, green, and maroon flowers

We pulled into the lot, jam-packed with cars, just as the sun was setting. Its orange glow glistened on the burgundy and indigo flowers lining the sprawling vines of a clay wall. We both were amazed at the stillness and beauty of the scene.

Rounding the corner, however, tells a different story. Instead of flower vines, people making small talk line the walls on both sides of the doors. This is worrisome, as we did not think to make a reservation to the Guadalajara Original Grill on Prince Road tonight, and had talked up the food quite a bit to Mason’s dad, who is in Tucson for the weekend. When we make it up to the front desk, a waiter says “A wait for 3? About 45 minutes.” Yikes!

The Wait Begins…

We settle in on the lone free bench outside and enjoy the clear and ever-comfortable 80-degree Tucson evening. The conversation drifts from college basketball to if we are going to pass our English class this semester.  Before we know it, we are all walking to our booth. Warm energy hits your senses from all around. The orange paint and multicolor flags and murals catch your eye in every corner, while a lone mariachi guitarist serenades the packed main lobby of booths and tables.

pictures of the front of the resturant and artwork inside and outside the building

At Guadalajara Grill, lovingly referred to as “Guads” by the students at the University of Arizona, you are presented with long menus ranging from homemade margaritas and carne asada tacos to more obscure traditional Mexican meals that freshmen students from Kansas like ourselves have never heard of. But, before the customer digs into the main course, the trip to “Guads” wouldn’t be complete without its famous…

… Tableside Salsa!

As we gaze over the myriad of menu options surveying for the perfect selection, a lady with a knee-long apron and bold, matte-pink lipstick pushes a cart the size of a mobile popcorn stands at a baseball game over to the end of the table. The best part of the meal has started. The cart is covered by 10 bowls of fresh diced tomatoes, herbs, and peppers, with a formidable mortar and pestle in the center. Hands blurring from the speed of her movements, our server tossed generous portions of cilantro, jalapeño, and serrano chili peppers in the bowl. Mixed in smoothly with the tomatoes, the salsa had a beautiful consistency and left our pallets sizzling from the spice of the peppers.

lady making salsa at the table-side

“Thank you so much,” our server says as we place a few folded dollars in her tip pouch in between dips of chips in the communal bowl. But we weren’t done ordering from the cart yet. When at Guads, you have to get the guac(amole), right?

Guad’s Guacto-Die-for

Upon request, our server goes back to the kitchen, returning with a bowl of 3 ripe avocados. Hand peeling and dicing in rapid procession, a bountiful serving of avocado plopped into the mixing bowl as she tossed tomatoes and soft cheese atop as if she was brewing a perfect green potion. The guac was gone in under 5 minutes, as we devoured the dip as our hunger built for the main meals to come. However, when we looked back on the trip with full bellies and big smiles, two things stood out about our experience; the fun atmosphere hosting live music and the delicious tableside dips. 

Comida Fantastica for Us Kansans!

The waiter plopped down menus bigger than our faces, feeling as if there is nothing the restaurant does not serve. Enchiladas, Tacos, Fajitas, Burritos, you name it, Guadalajara Grill has it! We finally stumbled across the gem of the menu: Burro Panzon!

This burrito was nothing we had ever seen before, especially being from Kansas. The burrito was bursting with chipotle shrimp, soft orange Mexican rice, creamy fresh guacamole, steaming black beans, and fresh homemade salsa. The burrito overtook the entire plate and measured up to the size of my forearm! It sat there, eagerly waiting for the first bite. The burst of the fresh shrimp mixed with the mashed, creamy,  table-side guacamole sent us straight to the streets of Guadalajara, Mexico. The mariachi musician’s strumming guitars and ladies mashing fresh guacamole brought us the authentic Mexican experience. 

Wrapping (that Burrito) Up!

Guadalajara Grill on Prince exceeded our expectations with the authentic atmosphere from mariachi singers and table-side guacamole mashing to the Mexican art scenes painted with laser precision. The guacamole had the perfect combination of creamy avocados to freshly sliced herbs added by ladies with pink lipstick. The “Burro Panzon!” left us with our bellies about to burst open as we moseyed out of the front door, with the taste seemingly sticking around until the next visit. Guadalajara Grill on Prince is a must-try when in Tucson not only for the amazing authentic food but the atmosphere of the Southwest.


A.J. Makkyla is studying biomedical engineering. He grew up in Shawnee, Kansas, but Arizona is beginning to feel a lot like home to him. When he’s not working, he’s playing trumpet in the Pride of Arizona marching and pep bands!

Mason Karlin is studying Physiology and Medical Sciences and hopes to attend medical school at some point soon. Like A.J., he is also from Shawnee, Kansas.