Chicken Tortilla: The Rise of Mabeuf


Mase’s note: I am happy to introduce to the readers of Pino de Gallo a special, and hopefully regular, contributor to our little world: Mabeuf.  The Houston raised, Capitol Hill workin’, Alaska campaigning, orange wearing, soccer loving burrito enthusiast wrote this piece that I am all too happy to share with the world. ¡Buen provecho!

While the most distinguished American cities proudly claim a hallmark dish, Washington D.C.’s culinary resume lacks a namesake, like Des Moines and the ham & cheese lunchable. What Washington D.C., and its restaurants inspired by Food Network’s Iron Chefs, doesn’t know, is that hungry interns and erstwhile young professionals don’t want high-class cat brains fondue or some Gruyere cheese disfigured by a molecular gastronomy project developed in a Culinary Institute of America thesis statement.

No. As the creatures of a city striving for an identity outside of marble hallways, hideous crime rates, and the phrase ‘bitch set me up,’ we want one thing… gritty, hunger-axing, asphyxiatingly enormous, distension inducing burritos.

We want LeBron James’ bicep emblazoned with the Taco Bell logo. Making each dunk a reminder that our new national allegiance is to utensil free consumption of a vegetable and meat cocktail encased in a flour tortilla.

We want the U.S. Trade Representative to renegotiate our national interests to properly represent our insatiable appetite for guac.

We want James Cameron to rewrite the plot of Avatar as a metaphor for our hunger vs. the military-industrial-burrito complex.

Our demands and my quest is clear. To help America’s culture adapt by enlightening the internet of the edible satchel size treats our great country has to offer.

With this in mind I make my debut on Pino de Gallo needing to carb up for a 10-mile run. The target: Chicken Tortilla on 8th St. SE just south of Barracks Row.

I opted against making a “Give me the burritos and I will leave quietly” note out of letters from the copy of Vogue I left in the car, instead I hit the menu. There I found two items of interest. 

1. The burrito: it comes with a choice of chicken, steak, Argentinian Sausage or veggies w/ guac.

2. The super burrito: If you often struggle with a choice of protein, the super burrito is for you… resembling a WWE sponsored Royale Rumble between Kurt Angle, John Cena, and your stomach’s ability to absorb grease, you get three beefy protein packed pieces of meat writhing together in one mind-bending burrito. I question if a single tortilla and foil can hold a burrito with chicken, steak, and shrimp, but I don’t doubt I will find out one day.

Your blogger opted for the first option stylized with rice, black beans, chicken, peppers, lettuce, onions, corn and red sauce. The restaurants Burrista (like what I did there?) piled it high. They skimped on the ‘red sauce,’ but I did not complain. Anytime a burrito lacks pico and your blogger is forced to identify it as ‘red sauce’ you are usually getting the shit Taco Bell doesn’t bother to individually wrap.

The burrito’s size was respectable, it stood as long as 2 1/3rd BlackBerrys.

2 1/3rd Blackberrys, or in Metric....?

Upon unwrapping this child I am struck by the tortilla’s aroma. Combining a bagged tortilla with an open flame and steam press created an astoundingly delicious infrastructure. The smell reminded me of what a kitchen would smell like in the morning, if I didn’t have a habit of sneaking out the window at 5 a.m.

I may be stepping out on a limb by saying this… “I assume that Americans still eat chicken, despite the Double Down’s attempt to ‘ruin it for all of us,’ like the dude at the party who ‘always handles his everclear.'”

Chicken Tortilla fancies itself a Peruvian chicken establishment and this includes the burritos. Your chicken burrito features succulent diced chicken pulled straight from a rotisserie Peruvian chicken, not grilled. This is the burrito’s calling card. I found myself pinching pieces of chicken out and flipping them into my mouth like Tropical Skittles.

On the downside… The burrito’s veggies tasted more ‘Un-Safeway counter fresh’ than farm-fresh. Perhaps proving that the restaurant fancies itself a chicken place, not a burrito place, is its lack of salsa. Instead of salsa is an over-sized ketchup bottle containing a mixture masquerading as a Dan’s Cafe Vodka Cranberry. It tastes like Tabasco sauce and they claim to “buy it from a vendor.” My investigations determined that the restaurant does have Tabasco and a water-hose.

In all, the burrito fills you up. But, aside from the chicken it fails to distinguish itself. Also, the price tag of $10 does not give it any breathing room.

This baby rides in with 3 sombreros. Though I could upgrade that after the next weeknight USA Soccer game at Molly Malone’s finds me scrambling to solidify my stomach contents by 8 a.m.

Chicken Tortilla
1100 8th Street Southeast
Washington, DC 20003
(202) 543-1904


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