In late May of Twenty Aught Eleven, Mase battled EL TORO at Pica Taco. I had previously stopped by the Pica Taco on Columbia Road and detailed the experience here. This time I was stopping by the other location at the taint between Columbia Heights and U St. at 14th & Florida Ave. At this juncture, Pauly and I were still young and foolish (Pauly even had hair!), and had decided that it was a good idea to make fools of ourselves by trying out for DC’s “elite” men’s ultimate frisbee team: Truck Stop Glory Hole. Why did we do this? I’m not really sure, but I’m going to retroactively say it was just to work up a good burrito hunger.
Once a month, Pica Taco hosts its El Toro Challenge. What is the challenge exactly? It should be obvious from the name because El Toro is Spanish for…. the Toro. (RIP Farley) It’s 4 pounds of burrito in 45 minutes and costs $14.99 (if you don’t finish). If you finish it in the allotted time, you earn “an exclusive El Toro T-Shirt, gift certificate, and bask in eternal fame on the Wall of Champions.” My appetite was so whet you could drown a toddler in its panties, and I was ready to grab le taureau by the horns (that means “the bull” in French. I don’t know why I know that, I took 6 years of Spanish!) and make this burrito my bitch. And as we all know, if one pound of something is great, four pounds of it must be at least four times as great, right?!
We entered the small restaurant that really has an authentic feel complete with either soccer or a Spanish telenovela on the TV, a case full of Tecates, Modelos, and Jarritos, and a couple of tiny adorable Latina women behind the counter. My options today were chicken or steak, and like the greedy (half) white man I am, I chose both. Into the 4 or so large tortillas went hearty helpings of rice, black beans, and the 2 meats (separated). This is still technically a burrito by the barest of definitions (or purest, if you’re really into the Mexican style), but as I’ve previously discussed, I prefer my burritos to be Mission
ary position style and with all the bells and whistles of cheese/salsa/guac on the inside, because it is what’s on the inside that counts, right? (At least to ugly people)
I absolutely demolished the first quarter of the burrito. I’m more of a sprinter than a marathoner in just about everything I do in life (except for drinking, there I’m a try to sprint the marathon). Estimates put it at about 6 minutes, so I’m at a good pace. I attack from the steak side of the burrito, which turns out to be a big mistake, but we’ll get to that later. With my beloved Dan Pauly cheering me on (and by that, I mean eating his food like a normal human whilst occasionally glancing my way and chuckling/photographing), I dove mouth first into the next pound. This one took me noticeably longer, probably closer to 12-15, but I’m still on a fine pace to finish in time.
Then… I start to slow. I hit the Heartbreak Hill of the burrito… the unreasonably dry chicken. Each bite was agony as I struggled to make it swallowable through arduous chewing and fruitless efforts in saliva generation. I grabbed the bottle of spicy salsa verde and began slathering it on every bite to lubricate it down my throat. Anyone who has eaten through the point of pain, aka like an American, knows that you need to trick your body into fitting more down there. You’ve got a 20 minute window before your body knows it’s full to shove as much crap down your gullet before it taps out. The dry chicken was slowing my pace in this precious window.
The 3rd pound took up about 20 minutes, until it was just me and the last quarter of this behemoth staring at me with its dark dead eyes. With each agonizing bite, my body continued to breakdown. Salsa flowing through my veins, rice floating in my brain, beans bombing my intestines… it was all too much. What little joy that was in this burrito was long gone… and I was but a husk of my former self. Finally, the timer went off, the 45 minute limit was up sending a wave of simultaneous frustration and relief over me…. frustlief if you will.
In this instance, my sprinters training did me no good as I was defeated by El Toro and he stuck a 3.5 lb horn deep into my body, mixed it around, and left me to die… or in the very least attempt to kill my toilet. I would say I’m going to get revenge on Señor Toro, but it’s unlikely. I don’t like making $15 bets that I will likely lose, unless it’s fantasy football.
Since a picture is worth a baker’s dozen words or so, I’ll let the gallery really illuminate the experience.