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Cheap Eats: Guerrero's Bakery & Restaurant

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Guerrero's ceviche / COOPER LEVEY-BAKER

Guerrero's ceviche / COOPER LEVEY-BAKER

Why Guerrero's? Well, a reliable source told me the place was packed well into the night, and that it looked like just the kind of place I might dig. Part Latin American grocery, part bakery and part Mexican restaurant, the place sits near the 8-Ball Lounge on the northwest corner of the Beneva/Webber intersection, one of the fabled Four Corners of Sarasota bar-hopping. While the restaurant isn't exactly buzzing when I get there, the place radiates promise.

Through a doorway to the left lies the grocery section, replete with fresh goods and pantry items, while rows and rows of candy and other convenience items surround the cash register up front. Straight back and to the right is where you find the restaurant, and it is here where my friend and I plop down.

The presence of pizza on the menu doesn't inspire, but we hover over the house specialties and traditional Mexican items. Guerrero's serves everything from roasted rabbit (at $12.99, unfortunately outside this column's price range) to beef stomach stew ($9.99) and pork feet ($8.99).

But the meal starts with chips, and I am oh so glad. I possess a boundless love for well-fried tortilla chips — the flavor so much stronger and more satisfying than the pathetic sodium crunch of a potato chip — and Guerrero's does them right. The chips are thick, dense triangles of corn fried past the usual crumble point. These things are so crunchy they shatter under your teeth. That doesn't sound delicious, but, oh boy, washed down with a pineapple Jarritos? I'm feeling good.

Ceviche ($5.99) comes next, served up in a tall sundae glass, the kind of stemware typically used for a malted before a sock hop. The dish lacks the nuance of fancier versions, but it does its job, delivering a jolt of acidic lime and tender fish flesh, with bursts of cilantro and raw onion.

Guerrero's huarache / COOPER LEVEY-BAKER

Guerrero's huarache / COOPER LEVEY-BAKER

I have a general rule about ordering any dish advertised as being a foot-long, so for my main meal I select the huarache ($8.99), billed on the menu as "12 full inches." Described as a "variation of the sope," but "twice as big," the dish covers an entire football-sized plate. Guerrero's will serve any kind of meat you like, so mine comes with a mix of carnitas and chorizo atop dough, buried beneath lettuce, onion, beans, cheese, sour cream and cilantro.

The restaurant offers your typical red and green chili sauces; neither of them rate as spicy enough for me, but a few drizzles liven up the dish nevertheless. I eat and I eat, but there's no way I can finish this thing.

My buddy does better. An order of gorditas ($8.99) comes with two small sandwiches, the corn patties fried till they're as crisp as those chips. Inside, the pig and chicken have been braised to perfection. The meat is so tender the latter comes apart like traditional pulled pork.

In between bites, we chat about the history of Sarasota and Manatee counties, the future of local politics and whether Lolita was really as good as all the experts say. (Correct answer: yes.) We leave stuffed and content. Turns out my reliable source really is reliable. Good to know.

Fresh chips and a pineapple Jarritos at Guerrero's / COOPER LEVEY-BAKER

Fresh chips and a pineapple Jarritos at Guerrero's / COOPER LEVEY-BAKER

Guerrero's Bakery & Restaurant
3557 Webber St., Sarasota
923-4459 or 923-4406


This is the umpteenth entry in a weekly column dedicated to eats that are cheap. If you have an idea for a place to feature on Cheap Eats, comment below, email me at cheapeatssrq@gmail.com or hit me up on Twitter: @LeveyBaker.

Last modified: September 13, 2013
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