There aren't many occasions when we're okay with someone yelling "gordo" at us.
But we let it slide when it's the friendly face at Hamburguesas el Gordo calling out our order. When we're in the vicinity of the Del Gordo burger, we're nothing but smiles and anticipation.
In the newly flipped restaurant space at the corner of 42nd and Cedar (formerly Pupuseria La Palmera), Hamburguesas el Gordo has opened a second outpost -- the first is in Plaza Del Sol of the Payne-Phalen neighborhood in St. Paul. Here, Mexican street foods and American favorites find their common ground in the form of burgers, hot dogs, and tacos. The room is spare, but clean, the right place for a quick bite washed down with a real-sugar Coca Cola.
The signature dish is the Del Gordo ($9), a hulking, kitchen-sink burger with a half-pound handmade patty, avocado, bacon, cheddar and mozzarella cheese, grilled ham, pickled peppers, tomato, onions, lettuce, mustard, ketchup, and mayo.
You're going to need napkins.
If it seems like overkill, it doesn't taste that way. Somehow in all the chaos there's a simplicity, a Big Mac-like appeal that will have you going back for bite after bite -- never stopping to put it down, never daring to, lest the whole thing fall apart. The bun is soft and buttered and they wrap it in paper to give it some extra support, but prepare for a delicious, drippy mess.
“That’s how we make ‘em back there," owner Claudia Gutierrez told us last fall. "We don’t make ‘em small.”
The hot dogs (dogos) are another mess worth making. The satisfying salty pop of the hot dog ($3.50) hiding in a soft bun, buried under toppings like avocado, grilled onions, cilantro, mustard, and ketchup, sent us on a treasure hunt for the perfect bite of all components. When we found it, we relaxed into the perfect mix of salt and tang, creaminess and crunch.
Rounding out the entrees are the tacos ($2.25-$2.99), little things filled with grilled meats and even soy chorizo if you choose. We were less excited about the fillings than the handmade corn tortillas: tender, flavorful, and strong and supple enough to hold things together without being doubled up.
Sides include porky charro beans, regular fries, and "asada fries," topped with carne asada, sour cream, cheese, avocado, and salsa. We're plotting a return to try these; there simply wasn't room for it after sampling the rest of the menu. We left gordo and happy, and you will too.
Hamburguesas el Gordo
4157 Cedar Ave. S.