Editor’s Note: The stars have aligned and the magical combination of my new-found unemployment and the insatiable cries of the general public for a Pino de Gallo revival have led me to reboot this bad boy. But first thing’s first, I’ve got a backlog of half-digested blog posts from 2-3 years ago that I’m going to try to piece together, roll up, and deliver to you all. I would take any and all opinions of these burritos lightly because years of alcohol abuse has resulted in a shaky memory at best. And much like my memory, the pictures were taken in a time pre-smartphone and will therefore be of low quality. In the meantime, put on “Welcome Back” and enjoy the new post!
I woke up to my alarm (overworld theme of the Legend of Zelda) and realized that in just a few short hours I will be in Atlanta with the Berry Boys. This means I needed two things: 1) Blazer and cufflinks for easy traveling followed by a night on the town (What’s that smell? ATL!), and 2) Gear for a night of drinking and merrymaking with 10 men in a cabin in rural Jojah. Check and check.
(Can 2014 Mase interject here for a moment? First off, I had a theory a few years ago that I could move through security more quickly if I was dressed up because then they’d think I was important and definitely not a terrorist. My evidence for this was the very scientific comparison of the experiences of the behoodied Lil Peen who was regularly stopped by the TSA. The clear (and real) answer is that the trick to making it through security clearly is to appear white, so I’ve got that going for me… which is nice. Secondly, I think I embraced this idea just to cover up the fact that I was a fat bloated alcoholic a la Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now. And finally, I don’t know why I always thought that in order to sleep on the plane, I should go out drinking then come home and pack while mid-black out. Not only did it make the flight bad, but I always forgot something kind of important – socks, condoms, phone charger, contact solution, etc. Maybe I should have taken C-Rich’s approach.)
I was still reeling from Bonesaw up and leaving me for a “yob” in Portlandia. After the briefest of brief year in DC together, which included such highlights as making stuffed peppers and watching Archer while drinking a 12 pack of Yeungling in my room on Valentine’s day, my sweet simple Bonesaw was leaving me for more bearded pastures. And much like my trip to San Francisco, the rational side of me thought “Let’s save this money or pay down our debt” while Mase threw back a glass of whiskey, grabbed the keyboard, and promptly booked a flight to Atlanta where Bonesaw was gathering himself before finally leaving for the northwest. The parents of Bonesaw and his twin, The Boy, have a cabin in rural Georgia straight out of Deliverance. (well not that straight) But before we retreat for some banjo playing and squealing like a pig, it was time to explore some good old fashion southern cuisine… well way south of the border. No, not that one. And I wasn’t stoppin’ at no Moe’s, I wanted the good stuff.
Enter Bell Street Burritos. At the time, it was but a small stand at the Sweet Auburn Curb Market near Grady Memorial Hospital. The market is a great lunch spot filled with an ecclectic mix of doctors, immigrants, shiftless hobos, and area professionals. One highlight was a man who walked by with a 3/4 Van Buren and a soul patch. “I’m sure he’s really interesting…” the Boy quipped. I bet he is. Founder and proprietor, Matt Hinton, started Bell Street Burritos as an informal burrito delivery service in early 2009. As an adjunct professor of
fiction religion at Morehouse College, Hinton had time on his hands and “announced to his friends that Mondays would be ‘burrito night’ and began delivering burritos to all who ordered them.” After he started receiving orders from strangers, he decided to go legit and put up a real sign and stand. When we were there, the founder was even there in the back, still making burritos, wrist deep in beans… or what I call (cue Will Ferrell):
Now down to brass tack(o)s. I ordered a steak burrito with pinto beans, rice, salsa fresca and the spicy chipotle salsa. One of the Berrys ordered the shrimp burrito and added green chiles. And to top it off, we paired with some great Mexican Coke. Oh, and we also ordered cane sugar sweetened sodas. I’m not normally a huge fan of beans, but I have to say that these pinto beans had great flavor and texture, not too chewy but well cooked. Unfortunately the rice was middling and didn’t blend well with the rest of the burrito; and as we all know, it is the job of the rice to be a supportive and complimentary actor to the meats and salsa in the burrito. The Wilson to the meat’s Tom Hanks.
The chipotle salsa didn’t pop in the burrito, but solo it was excellent; the red salsa was flavorful with a hint of spice, while the salsa verde was mediocre, chalky, and a general let down. The salsa fresca was not very noticeable and contributed to the overall wetness of the burrito, which I felt was a bit too… moist – a problem I have not often encountered. In the Berry’s burrito, they did not scrimp on the shrimp and the green chiles were an excellent complement to it. The steak on the other hand was chewy and nothing special, and cannot get the Pino de Gallo seal of approval. Despite the general juiciness, the tortilla managed to hold it together and had great texture, which is important for the foundation of the burrito.
Bell Street Burritos is held in high regard in the general Atlanta area, and rightly so. Matt Hinton had a vision for delicious Mission-style burritos with a variety of great ingredient and meat options. I think this experience was closer to a 3 sombrero outing, but I’m confident that Bell Street can churn out a solid 4 with the right mix of meats and salsas. I’ll split the difference and slap a 3.5 on ’em this time.
Bell Street Burritos
209 Edgewood Ave.