The Eureka Gonzo is, in some ways, the smallest grill we tested. Into a compact package, it packs more-than-satisfactory cooking performance (for one or two diners, no more) and some unique versatility. Notably, the Gonzo Grill transforms between a grill, griddle, and stovetop. Cooking performance is more limited than one of the bigger and more purpose-built grills, but the portability and versatility may endear it to you. When your menu is predominately grilled, and your space is limited, the Eureka might be the only stove you need to bring. Although the Gonzo previously help our Top Pick for most portable option, that award is now owned by the lighter, less bulky Primus Kuchoma.
Eureka Gonzo Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Small, versatile, round shape heats evenly
Cons: Requires two hands to carry, round shape leaves little room for different “temperature zones”
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|Price||$189.95 at Backcountry|
Compare at 2 sellers
|$249.99 at Amazon||$229.95 at Amazon||$150 List|
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|$103.61 at Amazon|
|Pros||Small, versatile, round shape heats evenly||Excellent cooking performance, smaller and lighter than most||Dependable, two burners, thermometer, large grilling area, high BTU output||U-shaped burner puts out a ton of heat, evenly||Great value, secure lid, good size and heat output, stainless throughout|
|Cons||Requires two hands to carry, round shape leaves little room for different “temperature zones”||Moody wind performance||Heavy, difficult to clean, rattly||Rattly construction, large packed format||Burner easily disengaged, imprecise burner control|
|Bottom Line||A compact, clever propane grill for car camping when space is at a premium.||Napoleon makes “no holds barred” grills for your backyard and for professional applications. Their travel version brings high end performance to a quite portable format.||A good, sturdy and reliable grill with tons of cooking space; it'll roll easily to your picnic or tailgate area.||A price-point grill with some of the amenities of top-of-the-line models.||This is the best value in a portable grill we've seen.|
|Rating Categories||Eureka Gonzo||Napoleon TravelQ 285||Coleman RoadTrip LXE||Camp Chef Portable BBQ||Smoke Hollow 205|
|Output Power (25%)|
|Cooking Area (20%)|
|Wind Resistance (10%)|
|Specs||Eureka Gonzo||Napoleon TravelQ 285||Coleman RoadTrip LXE||Camp Chef Portable...||Smoke Hollow 205|
|Cooking surface area (inches)||113 sq in||285 sq in||285 sq in||200 sq in||205 sq in|
|# of burners||1||2||2||1||1,u-shaped|
|Grill material||Cast iron||Porcelainized cast iron||Aluminum||Nickel plated stainless steel||Stainless Steel|
|Packed Size (inches)||11" x 13.7" x 13.7"||24" x 20" x 10"||37" x 19" x 11.5"||22" x 14" x 15"||27" x 17" x 12"|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The smallest grill we tested is also, in some ways, the most versatile. The Eureka Gonzo Grill is a grill, a griddle top, and a regular propane burner. Overall, the Gonzo Grill isn't the best grill out there. However, for both its compact size and multifunction versatility, it fills a special niche.
Eureka claims the Gonzo puts out 6000 BTUs. It is difficult for us to precisely verify that, but our experience with other grills allows us to roughly confirm its veracity. For cooking, output power is a function of absolute heat produced and how that heat is distributed and contained. A small, weak burner under a giant grill grate would produce limited cooking efficacy. The Eureka, in absolute terms, doesn't produce much heat. However, the small, round grill grate, with specially optimized panels for heat distribution, leaves it as hot as you would ever need when you need it.
Close competitor Cuisinart Petite Gourmet produces about the same overall BTUs (Cuisinart claims 5500) and distributes it over a grill grate that is about the same size. Look at our Editors' Choice Napoleon TravelQ 285 for another comparison. The claimed output is 12000; exactly twice that of the Eureka. The cooking surface area, though, is also twice that of the Eureka. The result is that these two award-winning grills have an output power that is roughly similar, per square inch. Our testing reveals that the Napoleon gets hotter than the Eureka, but not by an amount that matters for most cooking.
Cooking different types of foods requires different types of heat. You want direct, high heat for searing a steak, while barbequing chicken requires slower, more dispersed heat. These different types of cooking result from the ability to modulate absolute heat output and the ability to place your food in different positions relative to the burners. The control knob on the Eureka Gonzo Grill works well. It tunes the output from a truly low setting to the aforementioned high, searing heat. The catch, though, is that the small, round grill top over one burner offers few options for placing your food relative to the heat source. Because it is round and has one burner in the center, pretty much everywhere on the grill top is a uniform temperature. For cooking a grill-full of chicken, this is great. However, for slow-grilling some veggies alongside a searing steak, the Eureka comes up short.
The round grill top over one burner is unique in our test. The rectangular top of the Cuisinart Petite Gourmet offers subtly different heating regions when using the center or the corners of the grill. A two-burner grill, like the Napoleon TravelQ 285 or the large Coleman RoadTrip LXE Grill, provides many more options for control. The most striking advantage of a two burner grill is in "indirect grilling." You can light one burner, but place your food on the opposite end, effectively delivering only dispersed heat to your food. This sort of control isn't often necessary, but it is impossible on the Eureka Gonzo Grill.
Small, lightweight, and with a bag that contains the important bits, the Gonzo Grill is very portable. It is hard to imagine a useful grill that is any lighter or smaller. There seem to be certain critical bulk and weight thresholds for grilling, and the Eureka treads that line. We like the compact stature and easy movement of the Gonzo Grill. Our only gripe is that the grill requires two hands to carry easily. The only real handles on the grill are a pair of them low and on opposite ends. This means that you must use two hands.
There are two sorts of portability concerns with grills. First, how easily can you move it from site to site? This is a function of weight and bulk. How much is it going to load down your canoe or how much space will it take up in your trunk? In this regard, the Eureka is one of the best along with the Kuchoma.
You also might be concerned with moving the grill around your yard or from the garage to patio. In this way, the Gonzo Grill isn't as slick as something like the Coleman RoadTrip LXE that has wheels or the suitcase style carry of the Napoleon TravelQ 285. The Gonzo Grill is small and light enough that moving it isn't an inconvenience, but these others are a little easier still in the described situations.
At 113 square inches, the surface area of the Gonzo Grill is less than that of a large pizza. It holds enough for two people to grill a full meal for themselves, but more than three might require a few rounds of cooking.
On paper, the Cuisinart Petite Gourmet seems quite a bit larger than the Gonzo Grill. The Eureka is 113 square inches while the Cuisinart is 154. The Cuisinart is 136% the size of the Eureka. In use, though, the round shape of the Eureka seems to hold just as much food, with all of that food cooking at once, as the Cuisinart. Arranging food onto the round grill top is easier than on the rectangle. Now, of course, as we note above, the rectangular grill of the Cuisinart gives some subtle control options for cooking different types of food that the Gonzo does not have.
In our experience, up to 200 square inches is appropriate for up to two people. Add just another 100 square inches and your overall food capacity, in terms of how many people you can feed, seems to double. The nearly 300 square inches of cooking surface on the Coleman Road Trip LXE will readily cook for a group of 4.
There was a time when small grills on the market had very poor wind protection. Thankfully that is in the past. The tight-fitting lid of the Eureka grill shuts out heat-sapping convection. Of course, the smaller stature leaves a greater surface area to volume ratio, and heat is going to be removed a little more rapidly than on a larger grill. We noticed this difference, but your food likely will not.
When exposed to the fan we used to compare grills and wind performance most objectively, the burner of the Eureka kept pumping out the heat. It fared very similarly to that of the Cuisinart Petite Gourmet, but not as well as the concentrated little jets on the Coleman LXE.
This is a compact car camper's dream. It grills right with the best of them for small groups. Additionally, it can be configured to cook food and heat water in your regular pots and pans. Finally, with an accessory hose, you can use one fuel source to power both the Gonzo Grill and a JetBoil stove for hot water.
For all that it does, the Eureka grill is a good deal. If you need to grill for a larger group, something bigger is required. However, for a team of two car or canoe camping, the Eureka is just the ticket. The piezo igniter is a little finicky (we won't be surprised if it stops working entirely eventually. In that case, a simple butane lighter will suffice) and near the end of our test period, we started to have issues with gas delivery to the Gonzo Grill. We will keep testing and can hopefully report on long term serviceability. Durability is certainly a consideration in the value of a product.
This is a clever product. It is small, effective, and can be configured to do multiple tasks for you. It has its quirks (finding a cooler spot on a round grill is problematic; like yurt dwellers trying to send their naughty children to sit in a corner), and it is too small for groups larger than two. As long as you understand the limitations, the Eureka Gonzo Grill might be for you.
— Jediah Porter