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San Luis Obispo will soon have a food joint dedicated to quesadillas

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It should be no surprise what type of fare Quesadilla Gorilla will be serving up when it opens its doors to the SLO community in the near future (hint: it starts with quesa and ends with dilla).

But the real question is: How do you pronounce the restaurant's name? Is it Quesadilla Gor-ee-a? Quesa-dill-a Gorilla?

"I always say, as long as it rhymes, then it's good," owner Miguel Reyes laughed. "But we've heard it all. I personally say Quesa-dill-a Gorilla."

CHEESY GOODNESS Quesadilla Gorilla has multiple quesadillas to choose from, plus plenty of sauce options. - PHOTO COURTESY OF QUESADILLA GORILLA
  • Photo Courtesy Of Quesadilla Gorilla
  • CHEESY GOODNESS Quesadilla Gorilla has multiple quesadillas to choose from, plus plenty of sauce options.

Name details aside, this place knows how to put a quesadilla together. Until the restaurant's brick-and-mortar spot opens—they're aiming for the end of March, and it will be in The Creamery—you can find Quesadilla Gorilla's menu of cheesy, gooey goodness at the downtown SLO farmers' market on Thursday evenings.

NEW SPOT With a few other locations in California, Quesadilla Gorilla's newest spot will be in The Creamery in San Luis Obispo. - PHOTO COURTESY OF QUESADILLA GORILLA
  • Photo Courtesy Of Quesadilla Gorilla
  • NEW SPOT With a few other locations in California, Quesadilla Gorilla's newest spot will be in The Creamery in San Luis Obispo.

I opted for the Atomic Veggie, featuring fresh pico de gallo, black beans, grilled fajita veggies, and cheese (of course). The tortilla was grilled to golden perfection, a little bit crispy, and the fajitas combined with Quesadilla Gorilla's white cheese blend was melt-in-your-mouth good.

My favorite part of the experience was the multiple sauce options to choose from: roasted sour cream (roasted red salsa with sour cream), avocado salsa, cilantro cream (my personal favorite), and liquid gold (smoked red chilis with garlic, a house favorite). You get to choose two with each order. I'm a firm believer that sauces make or break the dining experience, so I was overjoyed by all the options to choose from.

Reyes co-owns the restaurant with his wife, Mikayla, who he met while they were both working in the restaurant industry.

"Our boss at the time was selling our location. It was pizza by the slice, and we were like, well, we're pretty much running this restaurant so let's give it a try," Reyes said. "We were going to keep [doing] pizza, and I had the idea going to bed one night, 'Oh, we should do quesadillas. We could do a build-your-own menu, different sauces, different specials.' I couldn't stop thinking about it."

This became Quesadilla Gorilla's first location in Visalia, California, established in 2013. The Reyeses opened a few more locations through the years in Fresno, Three Rivers, and Hanford. Now, they have their sights set on SLO.

"We want to put this in college towns," Reyes said. "We definitely feel like it's the perfect fit. As we grow, we're going to be targeting mainly these bigger universities, so SLO's kind of like a test market in that way. But also, we just really want to be in SLO. It's a great place to be."

Reyes said he's looking into getting some Cal Poly-themed items on the menu, along with all the Quesadilla Gorilla classics. The fan favorite is the No. 1, also called the Evan Boling, Reyes said.

"He's actually my barber, and he named our shop," Reyes said.

'PEACE LOVE & DILLAS' Until Quesadilla Gorilla opens its storefront (they're aiming for a late March opening), you can grab their premium quesadillas at the downtown SLO farmers' market. - PHOTO BY MALEA MARTIN
  • Photo By Malea Martin
  • 'PEACE LOVE & DILLAS' Until Quesadilla Gorilla opens its storefront (they're aiming for a late March opening), you can grab their premium quesadillas at the downtown SLO farmers' market.

The Evan Boling features cilantro lime chicken with crispy bacon and fresh jalapeños, mixed with Quesadilla Gorilla's white cheese blend.

When Reyes was preparing to open his first location in Visalia, "We didn't open for about a month because we didn't have a name," he said. "I was getting a haircut one day and was telling [Boling] about it, and he was like, 'Quesadilla Gorilla.' I was like, 'That's dumb.' But by the end of the haircut it was like, 'OK, that's what we're going with.'"

If cilantro chicken and bacon aren't your thing, Quesadilla Gorilla also serves up Where's the Beef?!, which is basically the Atomic Veggie but with seasoned and braised beef added to it.

"We kind of did a play on the whole Wendy's commercial of 'Where's the beef?' and them beefing up a burger, so we did that but with a quesadilla," Reyes said.

There's also The Classic with house-made pork chile verde, black beans, Spanish style rice, and white cheese.

"It's actually my wife's family's chile verde," Reyes said. "That's kind of your classic, traditional."

Or if you prefer to keep things simple, Just the Cheese, Please! is exactly what it sounds like. And once the storefront opens, you can also opt to build your own 'dilla.

As for the future, Reyes said he's looking forward to growing the Quesadilla Gorilla family.

"We really want to create a place where people can have a career and want to stick around," he said. "We know that we're going to have the college students who come and go, employees who come and go, but we also want to be able to provide long-term job opportunities in leadership and our management. That's big for us: Whoever comes through the door, leaving them better than where we found them." Δ

Staff Writer Malea Martin is waiting in line for a quesadilla. Reach her at mmartin@newtimesslo.com.

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