Eureka Gonzo Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
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.
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.
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 much lighter or smaller (that was until we got our hands on the Kuchoma). 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?
At 113 square inches, the surface area of the Gonzo Grill is less than that of a large pizza. It holds enough for one or two people to grill a full meal for themselves, but more than three might require a few rounds of cooking.
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 Editors Choice winner 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.
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.
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