Like many of these early posts in the return of Pino de Gallo, it was written several months ago about a burrito excursion that took place even longer in the past. But even when I was busy with work and facing bloggers block, I was constantly conjuring up bits of posts to write and ideas to “picante” up the blog. Without further ado, I give you…. The Boloco E-mails!
It’s election season down in DC, which means I’m busier than a plastic surgeon in LA, and I’ve called upon Little Peen to do something a little different for our latest review. We’re going to have a dialog of sorts where we will e-mail back and forth as we discuss our adventure to Boloco. I think we have somewhat different views on our excursion, so this will let people see two Peens in action. (which just caused this post to get this blocked by your work firewall!) So let’s do the Wayne’s World flashback thing, and go back to Memorial Day weekend (aka Pinothon Monday) and see what we got.
Bo(ston) Lo(cal) Co(mpany)…. how clever. I could tell from the minute we got there we were dealing with some sharp individuals. Although it is apparently a local company, when you enter the restaurant, it has the feel of a chain that’s trying to be a local place, which seems like it’s the opposite of what they are (local place trying to become quasi-chain). Maybe Little Peen can weigh in on the decor a little bit more.
Menu is pretty straightforward looking: several varieties of burritos, 3 sizes – “Original ($6.25)”; “Small (formerly “regular” – $5.35)” and “Mini – $3.25.” The mini is described as “disturbingly small.” (their words) This is America, we do not want/need things disturbingly small. Not to mention all the potentially emasculating jokes one could make if a man ordered those. Wait, come to think of it, didn’t you order a few of those because you found them to be “less intimidating”?
Har Har Har, Mase. If you recall, those 3 menu items were 3 “Small (formerly “Regular”) burritos that we decided to split in order to taste more of the menu. If I remember correctly, we got a “Memphis BBQ”, “Summer” and “Buffalo.” We’ll get into those in a bit, though.
As for the actual location we went to, it was one of the nicer/bigger Bolocos in the area, located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Boylston. Everything is pretty sleek, but it’s nothing that special. It’s aesthetically pleasing, but you certainly won’t be admiring the architecture while downing a burrito. Mase did forget to mention that Boloco also has a few options on their menu other than burritos. You can get a “Burrito Bowl” which is just the contents of a burrito….in a bowl. Their other very popular item are their smoothies (most people seem to especially like the “Jimmy Carter”…iiirrronnyyyy).
When we entered this location, they did welcome us with open arms and tightly wrapped burritos, so I have to give them credit there. But here at Pino de Gallo, we only have three things 1) a love for burritos, 2) journalistic integrity, and 3) functional alcoholism. Therefore, I must be tough, but fair (and inebriated). And we’re not here to review their bowls. I think they just created them as a warning to burritos if they behave badly: they get gutted and thrown in a bowl for everyone to see their exposed innards. But c’mon, who doesn’t love Jimmy Carter!? And the smoothie is a pretty yummy one. (Jimmy Carter Shake: all-natural creamy peanut butter, banana, skim milk, non-fat frozen yogurt, 1 Iranian hostage crisis, and a healthy serving of executive ineptitude)
Now let’s start breaking down the burritos, shall we?
Memphis BBQ – Sweet BBQ sauce, creamy coleslaw, pinto beans, boloco rice
Buffalo – spicy buffalo sauce, bleu cheese dressing, celery, boloco rice
The Summer – Mango Salsa, melted cheese, black beans, boloco rice
Now if you look at these options, as well as the rest of the menu, you really get the vibe that it’s a wrap shop that happens to have a few Mexican options. The only 2 things that come off as Mexican are the rice and the name that ends in “o”. That being said, I am very intrigued by many of the items they have in these… ahem, “burritos.”
The only reason I brought up the uh..savings…was to help legitimize the growth and respect by the burrito community for Pino de Gallo to your tens of readers! But anyway, I agree in that it’s more of a wrap place than a traditional burrito place, but they steam their tortillas, so I guess that kind of automatically makes it a burrito. Hell, you can even get a Chicken Caesar Salad “burrito” on a steamed tortilla.
So lets dig in. I’ll start with the Memphis BBQ burrito first.
In brief, I enjoy this burrito whenever I get it. Its probably my go-to burrito from Boloco.
Overall, though, its pretty mediocre. The pinto beans were soggy and average at best. the meat is the same in every burrito no matter what type you get, which is a disappointment. The only thing that changes from ‘rito to ‘rito is the sauce and other contents. It would have been really nice if these interesting menu options were actually cooked differently (I mean, who doesn’t love BBQ? …me, when its not actually barbecued). That being said, the meat isn’t that bad. I’d say it’s the Reggie Bush of burrito meats. You’re super excited at first due to its potential, and has bites of awesomeness, but overall its just a sweet concept with a bad ankle. The other thing was the rice. “Boloco Rice” is extremely generic, and pretty much just a filler. Nothing really to say there. The coleslaw is also runny, but not bad in terms of taste, so I’ll give it a bit of a pass.
Mase, anything you agree/disagree with here? What’d you think of the actually preparation?
I think that’s a fair assessment of the memphis. Most of the meat across the burritos fell somewhere between “dry” and “bland,” and the only thing I like dry and bland is my British humor! The pinto beans really had a nothingness taste to them. Although most of the flavor in beans comes from the sauce it is cooked in, which if this was an “authentic” Mexican or southern style food establishment, would be a very unvegetarian pork based simmer. At Boloco, (surprise!) it is veggie friendly. Similar to Chipotle, Boloco is big on the veggie options and the ethical treatment of animals. This is good for people that do not like moral dilemmas when they eat, or for those people that eat veggies out of spite (vegetarians). But can be bad for those that like to savor all the fat and (literal) elbow grease that goes into factory farming our country into an antibiotic resistant post-zombie apocalypse nightmare.
The buffalo wrap intrigued me. I love the build and ingredients in the traditional burrito but also have a soft spot for buffalo wings. Theoretically this should be a good mix of the two, right? Well, yes and no. It was a mess to eat and, again, felt more like a wrap than a real “burrito”. I suppose this just falls into a more “modern” interpretation of a burrito because there was indeed meat, cheese and rice thrown into a tortilla. The buffalo sauce, made of Frank’s Red Hot, and the bleu cheese dressing flavors (not particularly unique) leave little room for the other flavors of a true burrito. I enjoyed it, but will never be going out of the way to get it.
I too have a soft spot for buffalo (insert food). The buffalo is definitely what I get when I am sick of the Memphis, or if I’m craving something particularly unhealthy, or if I was Native American (I use all the parts of the buffalo… sauce). However, I have a slightly different opinion about this burrito than Mase, it seems. The overpowering of the two main flavors, buffalo sauce and blue cheese dressing, is entirely intended. It is supposed to taste like you are eating a chicken wing, or something of the sort, and I am 100% okay with it. However, I do like to throw the burrista a bit of a curve ball sometimes and add lettuce and tomatoes, which definitely adds some flavor and a bit of crunchiness from the lettuce.
As for the Summer Burrito, from what I remember, it was a much more sweet burrito, which is fitting for “Summer.” Again, it was not anything special, but was moderately enjoyable and the mango salsa and yellow peppers added to it were certainly a nice touch that gave it some extra flavor. It’s certainly a good option on those hot summer days where all you can think of is “Damn, I really want a burrito, but I also want to be refreshed.”
Despite what I (and I dont know about you, Mase) have said, I do usually enjoy these burritos when I get them. However, I am always hesitant to get them because of their Size/Price/Tastiness ratio. If these burritos were a bit bigger, or if the 2 smaller sizes were cheaper, or the ingredients a bit fresher, I would be much more inclined to get a burrito there more often. However, they have to keep up with their hipster friendly style, and pay for wireless internet and their fancy modern furniture, which I’m sure helps in driving up the cost of the burritos.
All in all, for me, these burritos will satisfy your taste buds because of the variety, but may leave your stomach wanting a bit more. So I give Boloco 2.5 out of 5 Sombreros.
I have to say, I think you make a fair point and my inclination is to support and encourage local businesses. I think Boloco does a couple things well but has a lot of room for improvement. While their attempt to be different and give their customers options is valiant, maybe trimming down and concentrating on improving a few of the aforementioned areas would do them well. While it’s possible I’ll hit one up again next time I’m in Boston, most likely I won’t be going out of my way to do it.
I concur with Little Peen: 2.5/5 Sombreros