leave your inhibitions at the door
The Burrito Guide has been up and running for a few weeks and the HBI is working like a champ. I started off the guide with visits to national chains Qdoba and Chipotle, to calibrate the scoring. Since then I’ve added four more choices, including my local favorite – BTB. This is the place that used to be called Big Ten Burrito, but apparently the conference thinks a burrito place owned by a couple young punks is going to sully its name. I typically don’t give a shit about college sports, but I would think that Indiana’s football team and Ohio State’s
cheating misfortunes would do worse for the brand.
I also visited a couple new places – one very good, the other one of the worst I’ve ever had. I’ll be heading to Chicago for a few days, so I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of tastings there. Hopefully, I’ll be sober enough to take notes.
Restaurant Description: Independent, open late, relatively few meat choices.
Price: $7.50 includes tax
Atmosphere =3. Original location is tiny, but BTB Cantina has space. Not a whole lot of personality in either, but constant traffic gives the place a nice buzz.
Taste = 3. Spanish rice instead of white. Meat was tad salty but had nice texture and was juicy. Pinto beans were perfectly executed. Diablo sauce is hottest on the guide so far.
Heft = 4. Maybe the largest in Ann Arbor
Messiness = 3. Tightly rolled, dense. Lots of juices, so messy in a good way.
Intangibles = 4. Very fast, big plus is that they don’t do Subway-style assembly line. Minus for steaming the shell – makes it easier to roll, but turns out rubbery. This is my go-to burrito – cheap, very fast, great value, consistent.
Overall Score = 17
Indiana Discount Mall
Restaurant Description: This place is tucked in the back of the Mexican flea market in downtown Indianapolis. (Yeah, I didn’t know they had Mexicans there, either). Full menu.
Price: $6, pre- tax
Atmosphere =2. A little bit of a dump (good), but take away the menus and loud Ranchero music, and it’s like any other food court.
Taste = 3. Thin crispy tortilla, steak was firm and simply spiced. No rice. Heft = 3.
Messiness = 2. Not very tight, not a lot of grease.
Intangibles = 3. Pluses for not steaming the shell. Nice array of condiments – escabeche, cilantro, peppers, sauces. Would have like to have seen better performance from a place that’s run by and caters to actual Mexicans.
Overall Score = 13
Pacific Beach Burritos
Restaurant Description: Independent, featuring wide selection of meats, fish and BEER.
Price: $6.29 before tax
Atmosphere =2. Inside looks like a 1970s-era Jack in the Box. From afar, the building is supposed to look like a sombrero.
Taste = 1. Meat was tasteless, but maybe because there was barely any of it in the burrito. Salsa was bland.
Heft = 1. Miniscule, about ½ the size of BTB.
Messiness = 2. Loosely wrapped-if this was a chick, we’d see nipples. Some positive juice spillage, but not enough fillings to really get messy.
Intangibles = 2. One point for outdoor seating – picnic benches in giant sandbox. Another for serving beer.
Overall Score = 8
Restaurant Description: Wow, an A2 place with Mexicans running it. Sit-down, hole-in-the-wall with great selection of meat – steak, chicken, carnitas, pastor, barbacoa (braised lamb), tripe, chorizo, and cabeza de res (Beef head). For giggles, I ordered a tripe taco and a cabeza taco. Tripe was had earthy flavor, but too squishy. Cabeza was very good.
Price: $7.99 before tax
Atmosphere =3. Used Styrofoam plates and it’s in a strip mall, the music was bad (which is a plus for a burrito joint).
Taste = 3. Meat was plentiful, firm, but a tad bland. Beans, rice, lettuce, sour cream, and guacamole were served on side. So it’s hard to get at how combination of flavors tasted. Beans were amazing.Salsa was uneventful.
Heft = 4. Kind of hard to tell, because it was “deconstructed”. Could tell that it would be huge if not served as a dinner platter.
Messiness = 2. The way it was served meant using a fork and knife. Meat wasn’t dripping with juices/grease, so probably wouldn’t be very messy.
Intangibles = 4. Actual Mexicans working there, good selection of authentic sides and desserts. Extra points for the Mexican Fatheads on the wall. And I don’t mean George Lopez.
Overall Score = 16