Bad Bean Baja Grill – The OBX Vacation Burrito

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Bad Bean baja grill front

“Vacation? Vacation from what exactly?” I know, it sounds crazy, but sometimes one just needs a break from the life of sleeping in and biking around the city eating burritos, and just escape to a simpler place where I can sleep in, make a big breakfast, and drunkenly pass out on the beach. I think we can all relate to that feeling. So while most people found something fun to do Memorial Day Weekend, I decided to truly honor our fallen soldiers by celebrating a Memorial Day Week in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina.

I’m a known South-hater going back at least to reconstruction and my pro-Tucemseh Sherman stance (kidding… or am I?), and my disdain for their love of tobacco and amateur sports. That being said, I appreciate the delicate balance they achieve in vacation towns… something in the realm of “We hate that we have to hide our racism and homophobia, but we’re going to be sweet to you because you’re spending money and something something southern hospitality.” Well, as long as you’re selling me food in large portions and beer for cheap, I think we can reconcile these differences.

After doing a bit of research (i.e. searching yelp for literally the closest place that sells burritos), I bugged Dan Pauly and Ms. Nogic to escort me on a burritoventure. Our destination of the day: Bad Bean Baja Grill. The chef, owner, and president of redundancy, Rob Robinson, owns and operates the two Bad Beans in the OBX area. According to their website, he spent five years living and working in California and traveling both Baja and Mexico before opening the Bad Bean Taqueria and Bad Bean Baja Grill. They serve the self-proclaimed “best Cali-Mex cuisine on the Outer Banks.”

On this quiet afternoon, we sat down, and glanced at our menus. Under the “Giant Cali Burritos” section, it lists the ingredients and options (12″ or 15″ tortilla) and closes with “rolled and wrapped to be eaten like a sandwich.” Maybe the South isn’t really familiar with what a burrito involves, but how else would you eat a burrito? Shredded, strewn about, and eaten with chopsticks?

12″ or 15″… tortilla?

Like a hot woman walking into an NFL locker room, the array of options to put inside me was both varied and impressive. “Achoite Roasted Chicken, Pork Barbacoa, Ancho Braised Beef Brisket, Roasted Sweet Pepper, Marinated Grilled Tofu.” Which led to this exchange:

Mase: I don’t know what I want…
Nogic: I recommend the burrito.

 

Glad she was able to join and provide such sage advice. I solicited input from the waitress, and while I’m sure she meant it, she gave the classic non-answer of listing a bunch of menu items that she assured me were really good and said, “Everything is fresh and homemade.”  I decided on the 15″ burrito (because I’m a man!) with the Ancho Beef Brisket and everything else: Mexican spiced rice, black beans, cheese, lettuce, sour cream (hey, I’m on vacation!), habanero salsa, and guacamole. Pauly got both the beef and the pork barbacoa tacos because he was having trouble deciding between the meats as well.

When my 15″ burrito arrived, I weighed it in my hand and felt the power. It was heavy and hearty, and I’m pretty sure I could club a man to death with it. Once I quieted the voices in my head wondering if I could go on a GTA-like spree with nothing but a burrito, I began digging in and got a strong hit of the beef brisket. While I was expecting a more Mexican-peppery taste, it definitely had the southern BBQy tastes to it. I guess as the old saying goes, “You can import the Mexican, but you can’t stop the South from forcing its way on it.” That being said, I actually love BBQ and this brisket was awesome. Seriously, the waitress was right.

After the meat, the next thing that jumped out at me was an overabundance of beans. They were everywhere, but somehow didn’t detract from the flavor of my giant Cali burrito. How Chef Rob Redundinson pulled that off, I have no idea. There was a great balance of sour cream and lettuce, adding just the right amount of cooling dairy and crunch respectively. The Mexican rice was cooked perfectly and had a subtle but good flavor that complimented the burrito well. My special request of extra cilantro was accommodated for and I could taste it throughout which made me a happy camper (vacationer?).

Slowed down to 1/10th of actual speed so humans can see it

Slowed down to 1/10th of actual speed so humans can see it

I also have to give credit to the burrista who assembled this one, because the structural integrity was sound and not too drippy until the devil’s inch and a half. The rice formed a cocoon around the burrito contents, which I loved, but the guacamole was not really noticeable for a while. When I finally hit it, I wasn’t blown away but it was good. The habanero salsa didn’t overwhelm anything in the burrito, and provided residual heat like that feeling we all have deep in our loins when we finish a viewing of Magic Mike. 

How to finish the devil's inch

How to finish the devil’s inch

 

On the other side of the table, Pauly loved the two meats he was putting in his mouth, and Nogic really enjoyed her tossed salad. The cilantro-lime dressing was so phenomenal that she requested the leftover to go, and after I tasted it I decided it’s what I want on every salad for the rest of my life.

When I finally finished this behemoth, I was very full… like just at the pain threshold. Is this what the runner’s high feels like? It must be. Now I know the appeal of marathons. It felt a little pricey (at $8.99 plus another $.99 for guac), but I’ll chalk that up to its size and being located in a vacation town. I loved this burrito and espoused the virtues of this place to my friends who were joining us in the OBX later in the week. They all agreed that it was a damn good burrito. I wish I could 1) make a return trip to the Bad Bean Baja Grill and 2) go on vacation with this burrito. Very solid 4 out of 5 sombreros.

And with this burrito protruding out of me like I’m in the movie Alien, I made my way back to the beach to lie in the sun and digest like a snake. Like our receipt, “Thank You” for reading.

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Bad Bean Baja Grill
3105 N. Croatan Highway
Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948
252.261.1300
4pinos

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Bell Street Burritos – Hotlanta, Jojah

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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 always sleep in full green tunic

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.

The Horror... the horror... seriously Mase, put a shirt on.

The Horror… the horror… seriously Mase, put a shirt on.

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):
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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.

Wait, don't forget the guac-a-MOLE!!!!

Wait, don’t forget the guac-a-MOLE!!!!

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.

(Future Doctor) Boy about to go all proctologist on his burrito. "Please be gentle..."

(Future Doctor) Boy about to go all proctologist on his burrito. “Please be gentle…”

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.

35pinos

Bell Street Burritos
209 Edgewood Ave.
Atlanta, GA
678.732.0488
http://www.bellstreetburritos.com/

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Taqueria Cancun – SF

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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!

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In the fall of twenty aught ten, I was coming off of a rough few months from my first election cycle. NCC was busting through budgets on the backs of overworked account executives, overqualified assistants, and a revolving door of no-talent ass clown temps. As I fell in neither the first category, nor the last, I got all the work of the last group with none of the compensation of the first. Who needs commission when a little overtime and the occasional 33 oz beer at Lia’s in Friendship Heights will suffice? Needless to say that my bloated beer gut (election weight gain) and I needed a vacation.

Now, the fiscally responsible Tom thought “Let’s take this extra money I’ve earned and pay down some of our student loan debt.” But Mase was having none of that, to which he retorted, “Fuck that noise, we’re going on vacation!” And we promptly booked our ticket on Virgin Airlines to the city of angels, Sin City, the Big Apple, the Windy City, the Whale’s Vagina, Beantown…. that’s right SAN FRANCISCO! I had never been before, and I had a dear, sweet friend of mine from college living there: the 1/4 Atlantic Sea Bear Spoony Evelyn Blanchard. At the U, he was known for his big layouts on the ultimate field, warm soft & luxurious body hair, and the Spoony face.

The Spoony Face

The Spoony Face

(Sidebar: This may have been the greatest flight of my life. This is still the only trip I have flown on Virgin Airlines, and before boarding at Dulles, I had a Chipotle burrito and a fine Rogue beer in the terminal; then I stepped onto the plane that looked like a night club and went to my cushy window seat. I then find out that one of the flight attendants is a former Ms. California (hotty!), and not only that, I can start a tab at my seat and order Glenlivet 12 yr scotch delivered to my seat (at a reasonable price by airline standards). I thought that was great but was worried that my lovable Celtics are starting their season that night against the newly created Miami Heat franchise and their own Big 3… and I might miss it. But …. there was a screen on my seat and I could get as drunk while watching basketball 30,000 feet in the air as I would at the Garden or the Verizon Center! What an age we live in…)

The bay area has given us so many great things over the years: Barry Bonds, great earthquakes and fires, anachronistic modes of transportationsmartphones with easily cracked screens  that include a simple one button interface perfect for drunk white girls taking selfies… so what better place to vacation than the city that is credited with the modern iteration of our beloved burrito?

The Blimps of Land Transportation - Ring ring! "Hello, cars? It's trolleys - you win!"

The Blimps of Land Transportation – Ring ring! “Hello, cars? It’s trolleys – you win!”

 History lesson ya’ll! Ch-ch-check it out! The Mission District in SF is ground zero for the large, multi-ingredient stuffed deliciousness we all think of when the word “burrito” floats into our ears. Read more about it here, because I’m not your goddamn teacher. One of my few demands for my visit was an authentic Mission District burrito. (The others? Cuddle time with Spoony – check. One fresh sea lion pelt from Fisherman’s Wharf – tbd. Spoony’s one request? “Please don’t call me a bear in public. That means something different here.”)

On my final night in the Golden State, (coincidentally the night of Mike Vick single-handed destruction of the Washington professional football team on MNF in the form of “Vick became the first player in NFL history with at least 300 yards passing, 50 yards rushing, four passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns in a game. “ en route to a 59-28 victory. And as we all know, the good times never let up as he saved the Eagles and Lil Peen’s fantasy season!) I cashed in on my demand to go to the Mission District for god’s food. Now this was 2010, so the Mission District was still a bit sketchy much like parts of Southie Boston, H St DC, and Bushwick Brooklyn, but apparently it’s become some sort of hip and expensive area (unlike the rest of SF?) just like…. the aforementioned list. Nonetheless, accompanied by Spoonbear, we headed down to Taqueria Cancun (Cancun? Spring break! Wooooo!), a place that I had found through rigorous and in-depth research (read: 2 min on Google).

San Francisco 27

So soft and warm…

The bright glowing yellow and red sign was warm and inviting, and made it feel authentic. Why? Probably because I’m easily tricked by Mexican-ish colors. I stepped up to the counter with the impressive array of options in front of me and ordered an al pastor burrito ($5.99) with rice, beans, sour cream, salsa, cilantro, and avocado. The other (not blogged about) burrito I had in SF was traditional, so I decided to order this one “wet,” (“mojado”) to which Spoony channeled his best inner Wayne Brady and said, “I didn’t know you like to get wet…?” The mojado sauce was a combination of red enchilada sauce, salsa verde, and sour cream, because at this point I thought, why not play intestinal roulette by dropping a dairy bomb into my stomach before a cross country flight, right?

The salsa verde packed a good punch on the “picante” scale, but lacked any real flavor beyond that and was generally mediocre. The meat was very good, but the packaging of the burrito, the tortilla was a bit thin resulting in added mess and was somewhat dry (so probably even better that I got a mojado), although I did find the texture rich and the flavor complimentary. Within this flour missile, the ratios of meat/cheese/salsas/fillings was very good. I didn’t have that awful feeling of bites consisting entirely of just one ingredient or the fear of not finding something I did order.  One large complaint was the cheese that I found to be both generic and lacking in abundance. I love me cheese, not just quality or quantity, but I want a large quantity of quality cheese. Do you feel me, man(chego)?

Al Pastor Burrito Mojado

Al Pastor Burrito Mojado

Taqueria Cancun was exactly what I had hoped for in my first visit to the big Bay Hole. It didn’t totally rock my world, but it was still a great burrito and the cost:taste ratio was fantastic. Compared to about anything we have in DC, it crushes the competition, but for California, I’m sure it’s no more than slightly above average. If I lived there, I’m sure it would be in my regular rotation (especially considering it’s a 24 hour joint), but I have to dock them for neglecting the queso. Probably a Cali 3 that we’ll call an East Coast 4 (same rule applies to women, beer, and burritos).

4pinos

Taqueria Cancun
2288 Mission St San Francisco, California 94110
(415) 252-9560
Open 24 hours!

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A Trip to the Homeland: Casablanca Grill & Bar

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Lineline in her Pino De Gallo debut. Not the last time you will see her, but probably last time in a bikini.

Ahh, Mexico. It’s good to be home where the tequila flows like wine and $10 gets you enough alcohol to last you a week (or an afternoon in Mase’s case). I come to you from the beautiful island of Cozumel, a small diver’s island near Cancun and Playa Del Carmen. I write this to you, readers of Pino De Gallo, while on vacation with my lady (who will be referred to as Lineline).  We have been enjoying the beach, cervezas and tequila, and most importantly, comida Mexicana. This means I am obligated to review a burrito (see: “Travel” clause of my Pino De Gallo contract).  Unfortunately, this will be my only official review of any burritos in Mexico, because I wanted to eat as many different things as possible, but I’ll be sure to mention a few of the other dishes.

After leaving our hotel one evening so that our maid who looked way too much like Consuela could clean our room, we walked over to the main plaza to try to decide on a place to eat. We walked around the plaza for a bit and were accosted by countless street salesmen and drivers yelling “taaax-iii?” out their windows before we decided on a place called Casablanca (not an homage to the 1942 film set in Africa). It was 2 for 1 margarita hour, so that certainly made Casablanca a bit more appealing and ultimately made our decision for us.

The restaurant itself was pretty cute. It had only outdoor seating (unless you wanted to drink at the bar), and also had a roofdeck. The menu was also pretty extensive, and obviously included just about every mexican dish you can think of (and some you probably wouldn’t. I was almost tempted to get the chimichanga…but this was a burrito mission).

This is neither white NOR a house...

The one problem I was having was actually locating the “Burritos” on the menu. I asked the waiter where they were, and he said they were called “alambres” on the menu. So, thats what I ordered.

On the menu, it was described as “beef with onions and green peppers.” Hmm…seemed pretty plain. It was also the only option. So like the Wisconsin Democrats, I didn’t really have a choice. It came with fresh guac and beans on the side. Also a bit disappointing that it wasn’t already inside.  “But whatever,” I thought, “I’ll just stick them into the burrito. No need to lose hope.” On top of that, we were quickly served home made tortilla chips with some deliciously home made pico de gallo, which I could always add on to the burrito as well.

As a sidenote, Lineline and I had already eaten at a number of places, and every place had extremely fresh and tasty guacamole, beans, and pico which is why I was not giving up hope….plus, it didn’t EVER cost extra. As promised, a few of the other meals we had included chicken tamales (probably one of my favorite meals of the week), enchiladas, fajitas, and quesadillas; all of which were extremely fresh and well made. This theme carried over to Casablanca, where not only the guacamole was crazy fresh, but so were all the other ingredients.

*Fork and knife recommended....but I suppose not required

However, when we were served our food, I was a bit surprised at what was placed in front of me. It looked like a set of 3 enchiladas with their open ends and red tomato sauce on the top. However, I was assured by the waiter that this was in fact the “alambre” and not a mistake by the chef. As stated, it was served with Guacamole and beans on the side (and a chip in each to use as a faux spoon) and were delicious as expected. But back to the “burrito(s).” I dug into these things with a fork and a knife since they were open ended and covered in sauce, which was a bit disappointing to me, but what ended up in my mouth was a pleasant surprise…..unlike that one game of “Who’s in my mouth?”

The beef was juicy and very well cooked, and the green peppers and onions seemed fresh and added a nice touch to the beef. The tortilla was particularly delicious, and I was told that they were made in-house, which added some extra authenticity. The sauce that it was topped with was also pretty good, but not nearly as good as the other ingredients. The only things I could really find wrong with this “burrito” was its lack of other amenities. There was no lettuce, no tomatoes, and no cheese(!). With all the other ingredients being so tasty, I could only bet that if these others were added we could have had a pretty superb burrito.

Either way, I did still enjoy my meal, as did Lineline. She gave me a taste of her delicious fish tacos, but seeing as she is a vegetarian she did not put any of my beef in her mouth (all puns intended).

In summation, Casablanca had deliciously authentic food/ingredients and was practically dirt cheap (about $5 per plate), although these were certainly different kinds of burritos than I was expecting, so I’ll give Casablanca a 3 of of 5 sombreros.

Casablanca Grill & Bar
Corner of 1st St. and 5th Ave.
Cozumel, Mexico

And just to make you jealous, here is what the beaches look like in Cozumel.

No, I did not steal this from the internets. (Photo Credit: Lineline)

The Last Frontier – the Burrito Factory

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We welcome back to the program Mabeuf for part 2 of our Alaskan Burrito series. Buen provecho! -Mase

Our tour of burritos in the “Last Frontier” continues at the Burrito Factory. That’s Alaskan for “bewildered contiguous Americans thirsty for reality shows.”

Yes, the Last Frontier (aka Alaska to the rest of you), mistakenly known for penguins, bobsleds and sobriety, so isolated it’s nearly impossible for avocados to travel further for the construction of guacamole. Decades ago a guac-hungry barrel chested lumberjack would have to chase an avocado like the Lions searching for a Superbowl appearance. (Editor’s note: You mean with Joey Harrington and 2 terrible wide receivers in tow?)

Pictured above: not Alaska

In modern times… Said lumberjack can hop in his jacked up F-350 with 28 inch chrome rims and a rear-windshield decal worthy of a dirty magazine and find a burrito with ease. Stopping at a local Chevron to fill up his metal stead and grab the latest discontinued flavor of Mountain Dew, the lumberjack can score his burrito.

Yes. This is a review of a burrito place in a Chevron station. And it’s not the microwave burrito you can find this author eating at least twice a week for his “Fourth meal.” PS… as a sub-review… the shredded chicken and green peppers microwave burrito gets 1 out of 5 sombreros.

To drop some history on you, Burrito Factory was not named after all of Bon Jovi’s relationships between 1982 – 1986. It was originally burrito Joe’s. While I did not have the pleasure of meeting Mr. Joe, I discovered the ‘Factory’ still uses his original recipes for all the ingredients, including the homemade salsa.

One more time… Say it with me… Homemade Salsa.

So… After dismounting your vehicle, tossing the premium diesel into the gas tank and flipping the self dispense switch you wish existed on all soft serve ice cream machines, you head inside. Getting to the counter at Burrito Factory is rough. You have to navigate past so many hunger quashing items. It’s still a miracle that I walked past the two foot long Slim Jims which could easily have been slammed into a makeshift hotdog with a slice of wonderbread. Eating one of those bad boys would make you forget why you came to Burrito Factory to being with.

At the counter the staff is friendly and all the ingredients are laid out infront of you. The assembly is quick and easy. You have four decisions to make.

Artist rendering of Mabeuf

What type of meat? Chicken, steak or pork?

What type of beans? Black or refried?

What type of salsa? Mild, hot and verde?

Cheese?

That’s right there’s no veggies in this place. This burrito is a meat torpedo. (Hope that doesn’t get blocked by your work firewall) I considered asking them to crack open one of the gas station chef salads. But the day’s mission was writing a burrito review, not spending the day on the toilet after mixing shredded chicken with a hard boiled egg.

Meat only, bitches. Wolf, moose, or caribou.

For the record, I went with Chicken, black and tan, and both salsas.

The chicken is impressive. Instead of being diced, it’s finely shredded and allowed to marinate in juice all day. My theory is traditionally that flavor and juice are inextricably connected. I will continue to subscribe to this theory, but Burrito Factory has added a caveat: There’s a clear line between moist succulent proteins and a burrito gusher.

Like a compromised dental dam… juice rushed forth. No combination of floral print napkins or quilted brawny paper towels could keep this beast from sharing its flavor with my tabletop. Consuming the rest of the burrito was a careful balance of managing the water table and actually drinking. While the phrase ‘burrito aquifer’ sounds entirely appealing, it’s forgettable when experienced.

Open the flood gates!

Aside from the burrito’s faucet-like qualities the salsa hit the spot. It obviously ended up diluted, but you could tell that the staff makes it fresh on a regular basis. They obviously avoided the urge to take the Pace Picante off the gas station self. Instead they’ll leave that for us unwitting patrons.

In the end… this burrito was desperate for two things: 1. a crisp element and 2. a moisture absorbing adhesive. Without peppers, onions, lettuce or Golden Grahams this burrito had no crisp refreshing elements. The black and tan beans and the wet meat gave this burrito a yogurt like consistency. Like every Linkin Park album since Hybrid Theory, this didn’t deliver. (Editor’s note: Did Linkin Park ever really deliver? I was plenty angsty in my formative years, but they never did it for me. Too whiney)

You said it, man. Nobody fucks with the Jesus. Not even drippy burritos.

Without rice the aforementioned juice was allowed to flood out the meal. Much like the Dude needed his rug to pull the room together, Burrito Factory needs a few more frames at the alley to respectably “fuck with the Jesus.”

2 out of 5 sombreros


Burrito Factory
c/o Chevron Station
2801 Boniface Parkway
Anchorage, AK 99504-3130
(907) 333-3663

La Salsa Pronto – Houston Intercontinental Airport

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At this point, my audience know that I live a go-go lifestyle. Scotch, burritos, and jet-setting around the country are standard fare. Waking up in strange places wondering where I am, who is next to me, and where the bloody hell are my pants is just another day in the life; so it’s no surprise that this time I found myself at George H.W. Bush Intercontinental Airport, suited up, and craving some nourishment. Lo and behold, I come across La Salsa Pronto! It appears to be the cliff notes version of the regional chain La Salsa. So put your seats and tray tables in their upright and locked position, and please be prepared for lots of turbulence.

Papa Pino has always been a stickler for punctuality and preparedness, so he dropped me off several hours early for my return flight to the District. Here’s a traveler’s tip for all you loyal fans of Pino de Gallo: dress like you’re important; it helps you justify running through the airport, knocking over little kids and old ladies, and lets you get through security without the porno-cancer scan or the TSA deep tissue massage (unless you’re into that sort of thing).  The last few times I’ve flown I’ve gotten neither… which was slightly disappointing after all the internet hype about the TSA’s Nazi-communist big brother machine of violation that is the gate keeper to flying. Next time I’ll be sure to get out of my east coast private university educated ivory tower and dress like a “real” American.

Git er done! And by that I mean please go away.

After making sure my cuff links were visible for the TSA agents, and flying through security (remember: big shot),  I mosey into the the feeding trough at the center of terminal C and figure this is as good a place as any to get a burrito review going. Hop in line, glance up at the menu and decide to go for the basic “grande” burrito. Listed at $6.49 – charbroiled chicken, guacamole, sour cream, salsa, cheese, lettuce, rice and beans. At a full La Salsa location, there is a variety of, wait for it…. salsas at their all you can eat and dip salsa buffet; but at the abbreviated location (thus the “Pronto!“) the salsas are pre-dished out in little plastic cups. I opt for the “buena” salsa and the pico de gallo. While the pico sufficed, the buena salsa was no buena. In fact, I would be bold enough to say that it was salsa mala (feel free to go to google translate for that one).

The “charbroiled” chicken was like that “nice” guy one of your female friends is dating – seems structurally sound but was tragically born without a personality… or in the case of the chicken – flavor.  And in this void of flavor, this absence of tastebud arousal, I had hoped that the cheese and the guacamole would swoop in like Spiderman and kiss me upside down in the rain (my teeth are much better than Kirsten Dunst’s though) . Instead, they left me hanging out to dry, worse than the opening to Cliffhanger. In my very wordy, roundabout, simile riddled way, I am saying that I was totally skimped on quality and quantity of both the guacamole and the cheese. Surprisingly, the rice was the Optimus Prime in this dying Cybertron shitstorm, because it was more than meets the eye. It did not look very appealing but it actually wasn’t that bad. Maybe that was just in comparison to the rest of it, but the bites of rice were mildly pleasant.

The end result was a not very tasty, undersized, overpriced, airline-food style burrito. Everything’s bigger in Texas… except the food at their enormous airports. Word of advice young travelers, if you are in the Bush Intercontinental Airport, skip La Salsa Pronto, go for Panda Express or something, at least their panda lo mein is tasty. Verdict: 1/5 sombreros

La Salsa Pronto
Houston Intercontinental Airport
Terminal C
3700 North Terminal Road, Houston, TX

Burrito King – Anchorage Alaska

Standard

There's no democracy in the Great North

Editor’s note: We welcome back to the program Mabeuf! This was a review he wrote while stationed in a campaign in Sarah Palin’s Alaska. Thankfully he took time out of his busy schedule to set a distance record for Pino de Gallo. – Mase

Burrito King’s status as an actual ‘King’ is ambiguous at best. Your author is uninformed about the Trademark status of the phrase. At last check, 15 male porn stars had competing claims on the phrase and our benevolent judicial system has yet to weigh in on the dispute. A harder case for judicial reform would be difficult to erect.

Burrito King is a newer establishment. Its claim to the throne of burritos was clear from birth. After all it was conceived by Alaska’s undisputed royalty of Mexican take out chains, Taco King. Hereditary rule is clearly the only system of governance fit for the Mexican fast food industry. RE: Enchilada King, Emperor Tacos, etc.

We are all witness... to your douchery

Ordering is straightforward. The Burrito King menu features an uninspired variety of plate style burritos.

As a quick commentary on the flat-top burrito… These things are despicable. What could you possibly put on top of a burrito that you can’t put inside it? This is like putting a duvet cover on your limited edition Jeff Gordon coffee table. Using some hexagonal trash granny knitted to cover a crooked smile built by years of motor oil powered white knuckle thrill rides and smooth cheeks with a texture found only in a fresh pack of Hanes A-Shirt’s is a crime. Straight up criminal.

You should immediately judge every flat-top burrito you ever see on a menu. Judge them like the dude who wears a LeBron Heat jersey while giving a speech about ‘sticking with the team’ to the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce.

If your red/green/pico/hollandaise sauce/Chris’ World Famous Tomatillo Chipotle sauce does not belong inside the burrito, then it does not belong on the plate. If you respectfully or disrespectfully disagree with me, order the enchiladas.

Back to the story… Despite being burrito royalty, ‘The King’ only served up five burritos (Chicken or beef): Deluxe, Veggie, King, Small Soft or Taco.

Blackberry: the new meter stick

The difference between Deluxe and King appeared to be onions and cilantro. Astounding.

Your author got the signature King Burrito, within his awkward dietary restrictions of course.

Years of buying nothing at the supermarket but pretzels and Peeps left me unprepared for what I experienced next… heft. Straight up heft, this plastic bag felt like carrying a Harry Potter book and its attached 13 year-old reader.

For readers,

Pictured: Mabeuf waiting to get his burrito

I was disappointed with my trip to Burrito King and was not particularly excited about consuming it. However a combination of a 10 minute side-trip to buy Civilization 5 at Fred Meyer’s and Anchorage’s first 30 degree night left me feeling like Charles Barkley at the craps table… insatiable.

To start the burrito I took the guac off the top and tried to eat this bad boy vertically. Instant failure. The burrito is poorly wrapped and clearly meant to rest on the styrofoam like a beached whale. Forced to resort to my plastic fork and knife (place did not have sporks, I asked) I dug in.

The results were off-putting. The chicken is dry. Likely the result of a batch made early in the day and left to bake under the heat lamp all day. The red sauce in the burrito was reminiscent of ketchup. The burrito had no veggies. Zero. It was packing nothing but beans, dry meat, some onions and sauce. We are talking Sunday morning flea market style.

My favorite part of any burrito, the guac, was uninspired. It had a fleck of tomatoes in it and no spice. Green foam is an adequate description.

I built an armada of sauces from the salsa bar, but these failed to save this beached Wright Whale from a sandy demise.

Much as the Sacramento Kings have never ascended to the NBA’s proverbial throne, Burrito King will never be invited to Burrito All-Star weekend in Las Vegas. They may be given a booth at the fan-fest, but only if they provide their own insurance.

Ultimately, burrito King can stake the same claim to royalty as the UNC frat boy who stood on his balcony this past weekend bellowing “I am the King of the Party.”

Verdict: 1.5/5 Sombreros

Burrito King
111 West 38th Avenue, Anchorage, AK 99503-5652
(907) 569-2900