leave your inhibitions at the door
As a kid growing up in the Chicago area, our parents would take us out to eat every Friday and we’d take turns choosing where to go. Two of the places we always ended up at were Chicago’s Chinatown and Taco Bell at 79th and Harlem – we LOVED that place. In fact, my very first memory of dining out anywhere was hitting T-Bell in Charleston, WVa. (Stop snickering, we were immigrants.) So I’ve always had a soft spot for Taco Bell. Seriously, where else can you eat like a king for five bucks? Call it my culinary guilty pleasure. That and White Castle, but that’s a future post.
When I started this Burrito Guide last year, I’ve had this internal debate about whether I should include “The Mexican Phone Company” in the rankings. To me, their Burrito Supreme is the pinnacle of fast food. Heck, just saying the name brings forth images of pure luxury. Say it with me – Burrito SUPREME. But at the end of the day, it’s not in the same category as the burritos on the Guide. It’s not even Mexican food.
But I went in there a few weeks ago and noticed that they had something that came suspiciously close to all the others – The XXL Grilled Stufft burrito. Maybe they want to compete with Chipotle and Qdoba? Let’s see how it matches up.
Taco Bell’s XXL Grilled Stufft Burrito (with steak)
Restaurant Description: Do I really need to describe it?
Ambience = 1. Sorry, can’t give it more than that. It’s too clean, too fast foodish, too vanilla.
Taste = 2. Individual components – beef, beans, cheese, etc – weren’t that great, but tasted good together.
Heft = 2. Bigger than the Burrito Supreme, but I could eat a few of these in one sitting.
Messiness = 2.
Intangibles = 4. Partly because of the nostalgia, but also because of how the whole thing was grilled for a while to get some crispness and extra flavor. I hate the rubbery shells you get at Chipotle, Qdoba, etc.
Total Score = 11. I was worried that it wouldn’t match up. They’re still not ready to play with the big boys, but definitely not the worst I’ve had.
Los Galanes – Detroit, MI
Restaurant Description: Large Mexican restaurant in Detroit’s Mexican Town. It was winter, but it looks like there’s a large outdoor seating area for summer months.
$5.95, plus $1 for cheese
Ambience = 4. It was pretty empty when we went on a Saturday afternoon, but you can tell it can get really lively on summer nights.
Taste = 2. Some spice, but textures and flavors weren’t that vibrant.
Heft = 3.
Messiness = 2. Fork and knife style, but still pretty sloppy.
Intangibles = 2. Nice place, handmade tortillas. I haven’t been to any of the other places in Mexican Town, but if you’re going to bill yourself and the area as authentic, you better bring it. The décor was there, but was nowhere near as good as a mediocre Chicago restaurante. It could be that since the area is called “Mexican Town,” it’s become a tourist destination and the owners don’t have to try hard. I think a big part of it is that there just aren’t a lot of Mexican’s in Detroit.
Total Score = 13.
Tito’s Tacos – Culver City, CA
Reviewer: Natalia at Re:Viewed
Restaurant Description: Traditional Mexican
That’s what she said –
Definitely not part of a fad, Tito’s Tacos is too traditional and original to be on the way out. Instead, it will remain an iconic establishment in Culver City where locals and tourists wait for and drool over their meal to come.
Ambience = 4
Taste = 3
Heft = 4
Messiness = 3
Intangibles = 3
Tacos Lupita – Haverhill, MA
Reviewer: Julia at The Foodographer
Restaurant Description: Small, independent Taqueria
That’s what she said –
This authentic mexican joint is a gem outside of Boston. This is great for those who don’t want to deal with the chaos that is Boston traffic and parking. The food is great and all the prices are under $10 per entrée.
Ambience = 3. Clean, but bare.
Taste = 4. Fresh veggies and flavorful meats but would suck if you were a vegetarian (cuz then u only get lettuce and tomatoes in ur burrito)
Heft = 3. Pretty average (about the same size or slightly smaller than Anna’s or Felipe’s)
Messiness = 5. No mess, very well wrapped.
Intangibles = 3
More Australian Burritos –
I came across a great blog called Wise Mexican Owl, whose mission is “Uncovering the meaning of life and Brisbane’s Best Burrito”. They have some great reviews and beautiful pictures. Go check ‘em out.