When I was growing up, weather changes were simply known as weather. Now, it’s “climate change.” O-M-Fing-G, a few months ago it was snowing, and now it’s hot! Climate change is real! Al Gore was right! It’s a left-wing plot to undermine the sanctity of marriage! The President can read my e-mails! The government put fluoride in my water! What a bunch of conspiracy BS.
Why did I start with a rant on “global warming”? Is it because I’m fed up with politics and happen to live in the political center of the country? Possibly. Is it because I’m bitter that I used my life savings to buy a large block of ice to keep my family cool during the hot DC summer? You damn right I am. Am I just crazy? Haven’t ruled it out. Is the over-use of the rhetorical questions a gimmick to hide my clearly weak writing style? Let’s just say $120,000 doesn’t buy the education you’d think it would.
The District has been crushed by a brutal heat wave this summer rendering the outdoors nearly uninhabitable (yeah, that’s why I’ve avoided outdoor activities…right), but on this one night, this night of nights, it was not just bearable, but dare I say… it was nice out. So what better way to take advantage of nice summer weather than to sit outside with some friends and eat a burrito?
I met up with the always charming, beer brewing, rugby playin’ Chicagoan Jimmy-Jims and the ever classy, future high-powered attorney (sadly a BC alum, but I’ve come to terms with it) E-Vol. We were formerly slaves to the man paralegals in Boston together, but got the hell out of there to pursue higher education. Thankfully the economy is better than ever and the investment (aka crippling debt) is totally paying off. Psh, it’s not like I took this girl’s advice and started crying over my master’s degree to pump myself up for going to work in the morning or anything….
El Tamarindo (Spanish for The Tamarind… which is a tree with funky looking seeds; and yes, I did have to look that up. Thanks Google!) is not like many of the other burrito joints that are on the go/carry out establishments where the burrito is assembled in front of you. Call me a traditionalist, but I like to see what goes in my food. If I’m going to put something inside me, I want to sure of its contents so I don’t get any surprises. Crazy, I know. This “Authentic El Salvadoran and Mexican” restaurant had a very extensive menu. Enormous even. It’s so big that they decided to break it into 4 separate pdfs on their website. Needless to say, we frustrated the waitress with our lack of decision making skills, while she frustrated us with her lack of English speaking skills, so it was more or less a wash.
I ordered the Santa Fe Burrito which was described in the menu as “Chuck Steak and beans rolled into a flour tortilla, topped with enchilada sauce, tomatillo sauce and melted Monterrey Jack and cheddar cheeses. Served (sic) guacamole, sour cream, and fresh fruit.” All for the low, low price of $13.99. Wait, what? Hmm, that is expensive, but like I said, this is a real sit down restaurant. Maybe the fruit jacked up the price? I decide to roll the dice because, as we all know, the higher the price, the better the quality… right? I’m sure that’s why David Kahn gave Darko a $20 million contract.
When the burrito arrived, I was excited but frustrated. The presentation was quite good, but I thought the slices of orange were superfluous and the sauce being on the outside of the burrito goes against the idea of the burrito. The beauty of the burrito is the delivery mechanism. Wrapped in a single tortilla, it should be easily edible and portable with no utensils and one hand if necessary. The sauce being on top of the burrito forced me to attack this thing with a fork and a knife… completely blasphemy that I am ashamed to admit even happened. About halfway through, I decided to give that up and just dive in with my hands like nature intended.
The chuck steak had a very good grill flavor, but I could taste that it was a cheap cut of beef. This degraded the experience because I never knew when I would get a chewy or fatty bite of poor beef. The rest of the burrito was mixed together well that each bite had an array of tastes and I never had that “Crap, that last bite was just lettuce, and this next bite will be just chicken” experience. The rice, beans, cheese and salsa weren’t particularly notable, but were not bad at all. They were there to simply compliment the beef and sauces without being distracting. The whole burrito was grilled, not on a steamed tortilla, as is my preference, but it was not over grilled so the tortilla did not dry out. This was probably affected by the enchilada sauce and tomatillo sauce (pretty much salsa verde) that was on top. While these sauces were actually quite yummy, they don’t belong draped on top of a burrito. At that point, it’s just a half-assed enchilada. It was great that sour cream and guacamole were included, but they were on the side, which as I said earlier, is on the wrong side of the burrito. What’s the right side? Say it with me children… The Inside!
El Tamarindo is a very good sit down restaurant in a great location. They have an extensive menu (although like many ethnic restaurants, it’s really just the reassembling of 3-5 main ingredients in a bunch of different ways). Either way, there were no complaints from my companions on their food. I would definitely return for a good Mexican meal, but if you’ve got a hankerin’ for a burrito, there are many faster, cheaper, and better places for that job. I’m sure if I was reviewing the restaurant as a whole, their rating would be higher, but this is after all a burrito blog, and must be judged as such. Would be a 3 sombrero, but price bumps it down to a 2.5 out of 5 Sombreros.
1785 Florida Avenue Northwest
Washington, DC 20009-2657