Another Mexican restaurant is rising from the ashes of El Sombrero. This one is on the southern tip of Hall County and specialties include a Hawaiian burrito and an alcoholic drink called “the cazuela” that involves a clay bowl.
In 2019, fire destroyed the El Sombrero location at 2010 Browns Bridge Road that was owned by brothers Ernesto Aguirre and Arturo Guzman.
Several El Sombrero restaurants have operated in the area since 1984. Christian Aguirre, who also worked at the El Sombrero on Browns Bridge, opened the El Sombrero Mexican Grill & Cantina in 2019. It is not part of the El Sombrero Mexican Restaurant franchise.
Now two more familiar faces to El Sombrero are starting something of their own. Guzman’s son, Aurelio, has worked alongside his dad since middle school, and Felix Gutierrez has worked with them, too, for the past 22 years.
Aurelio said he didn’t want to compete with his dad’s business in Gainesville. After months of preparation, Aurelio’s Mexican Restaurant opened in early August off of exit 8 in South Hall.
“I didn’t want to be too close to El Sombrero,” Guzman said. “I basically didn’t want to be my father’s competition. I didn’t want to be too close to family, so I stumbled onto that one and then decided to open it.”
Both owners visited the plaza where the restaurant sits today and knew it was meant to be.
“I love working inside the restaurant, meeting people, and cooking,” Guzman said. “I just love the atmosphere about it.”
The restaurant serves traditional Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes including enchiladas, tacos, burritos, shrimp cocktails, fajitas and quesadillas.
“I have always been a cook,” Gutierrez said. “I think it’s my passion, the kitchen. My whole family are good cooks.”
A dish that has gained popularity at the restaurant is the Hawaiian burrito. The 12-inch tortilla comes loaded with steamed red rice, grilled chicken and onions and is topped off with melted cheese, bacon, chorizo and slices of fresh pineapple.
The burrito was created by Gutierrez when he was throwing ingredients together to make himself lunch at work. He began sharing and making it for his co-workers who enjoyed it, and he knew he had to start selling it at the restaurant.
“When I tried it I said, ‘my God this is good’,” he said. “I know people’s palates, and I know when there’s something that makes you want to eat it.”
Aurelio’s also serves alcohol, including sweet or spicy margaritas and “the cazuela,” a clay bowl filled with tequila, limes, oranges, cherries, tajin, chamoy and banderilla candy.
Aurelio’s Mexican Restaurant
Where: 4830 Golden Parkway, Buford
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday; noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
More info: 678-765-2220