On a balmy summer day in DC, Nate Dawg and Little Peen are visiting Mase in
our , excuse me, your nation’s capital. This day, we decide to kill several birds with a few less than that many stones. Hungry? Yup. Craving burritos? As always. With a couple of tourists who want to see some of “DC”? Unfortunately had those in tow as well. This meant that we were hopping in a zipcar and navigating the one-way and oft closed streets of the city to Capitol Hill to go to Burrito Brothers.
For those of you not familiar, Capitol Hill is the nice area located near, wait for it…. the U.S. Capitol, where rich white people live, poor Hill staffers live 12 to a house so they can have a short commute on their low government salaries, and dangerous SE DC is just far enough away that people forget that they’re living in “Mad Max” times over there.
There are some that say Stanford is the Yale of the West, well in a similar vein, there are those that say that DC is Hollywood east, but instead of lots of hot people, we have lots of nerdy overachievers. Remember how there was that one smoking hot girl in high school that decided to move out to LA to become an “actress” or a “model” and it turned out there are much hotter and more caddy girls there already? That’s what DC is but instead of hot girls, it’s made up of “motivated” college graduates who “wants to make a difference” and now work for a non-profits or an NGO and is going to change the world by doing grant writing to get water purifying plastic bags sent to Bangladesh or something; but on the bright side, DC is a great place to add “condescending” to your resume. So that’s where we find ourselves, at the mothership of it all. We had “a lunch on hill.” Damn, I forgot my briefcase and my Master’s degree at home.
Burrito Brothers is located on Pennsylvania Ave (that’s the same road that the President lives on!) and is a tiny location with some small counter space and two small tables to eat there. There’s a small salsa/sauces/miscellaneous bar immediately upon entering, and behind the cash register the kitchen and ingredients are clearly visible. So far, so good in my book… er… blog.
Above the cash register where the burrista is ready to take your order, there is an extensive menu of the usual Mexican thoroughfare ranging from tacos to enchiladas to quesadillas. But the key part, the essential part, nay the only part of importance is the far left column of the menu. This sliver gently holds your hand as it guides you through each step of the burrito building process. Tortilla…. meat… cheese… Who ordered the big daddy burrito? This is starting to sound like the beginning of a Mexican porno. Better stop myself before I get too excited. Let’s start at the top shall we?
Tortilla – options include flour (standard), whole wheat, spinach, jalapeno, tomato, and multigrain. With the exception of flour, the diversity of tortillas comes at a price of an extra 50 cents. I found the flour tortilla to be nicely moist and steamed that held together only moderately well under the ravaging hurt that I tend to put on a burrito. The structural integrity buckled under the pressure. Unfortunately, both the whole wheat and the jalapeno tortilla resulted in dry burritos that significantly detracted from my devouring experience.
Meat – Chicken, steak, carnitas, ground beef, carne asada (+$1.00), pollo asado (+$1.00), and chorizo (+$1.00). I went for the carnitas while Nate Dawg splurged some of his Jew gold on the pollo asado. We concurred (that means we agreed) that the meat was juicy and delicious. Chicken is more often the victim of the drying out. It’s like chicken is the pretty girl with daddy issues, and overcooking it is like convincing her to do porn in the San Fernando Valley, it’s just too easy to do. The carnitas have less of excuse to be dried out because of the fat, grease and slow cooking that usually goes into it. Thankfully our Burrito Bros seemed to know what they were doing.
Beans – Black, pinto, refried. Standard, standard, bonus (as I look at it). Nice to see the Bros have a third option. Most places in the DC do not. Unfortunately, the variety did not make up for the subpar showing in this category. While the flavor of the black beans was ok, they were very runny and turned this into a hot mess. While eating, it looked like several western PA coal miners had sneezed into our hands. Not great.
Veggies/salsa – Here is one spot where the variety sure paid off. Options included: Jalapenos, cilantro (one of my favorite smells/flavors in the world; if there was a cilantro cologne, I would douse it on me everyday and be forced to contain the desire to lick myself), salsa verde, roasted tomatoes, onions, green peppers, lettuce, and plain tomatoes. The quantity of the veggies was not overwhelming in the burrito, but I had been able to notice the cilantro flavor more. The salsas, both roasted tomato and salsa verde, were average but, much like the beans, contributed to the runny mess of these burritos. This thing needed some “Neat & Discreet” adult diapers. And with the non-flour tortillas so dried out, the moisture was not absorbed at all but became runoff like pesticides from a golf course right into a town’s drinking water, but this time the drinking water was my hand, which is way more important.
Extras – Cheese ($.80), Sour cream ($.80), guacamole ($1.10), corn ($.85), spinach ($1.25). I have a very anti-payforcheese policy, but much like gasoline, my demand for cheese is inelastic (thanks AP Econ!), but my demand for guacamole is very elastic. This time I go for the guac, and it’s good, but not $1.10 good. Would love to add corn to my burrito, but my knowledge of just how dirt cheap corn is in this country means that I refuse to pay that kind of money for a scoop of it. I may love burritos, and I may be bad with my money, but I am not stupid and bad with my money.
Burrito Brothers is one of the better options for a non-chain burrito inside the district that I have encountered so far. Their variety of ingredients and customization allows the burritor to enjoy a different experience every time. The prices reflect the area (Capitol Hill) and that is a shame, because it definitely lowers the value. Although I did not have the strongest experience at Burrito Brothers, I would definitely return, partially due to the chance that I could get something completely different (relatively speaking), but also because I’ve learned what to do to avoid an overpriced, wet mess. But if you’re in Capitol Hill, be sure to swing by Burrito Brothers, just don’t forget to grab extra napkins.
Verdict: (a strong) 3/5 Sombreros
Burrito Brothers of Capitol Hill
205 Pennsylvania Avenue S.E.
Phone: +1 (202) 543-6835