Lime to me, baby!

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When I moved to DC, Chinatown/Gallery Place had already transformed to most of what it is today. Sure, there wasn’t a multi-floored Walgreen’s yet, and the Wizards were a long shot from winning a playoff series, but the stories like the one my former boss, a 6’6″ ex-power forward at Catholic University, told me about breaking beer bottles on the ground to have a weapon on your walk home in the 90s were definitely a thing of the past.

No, Gilbert, not that kind of long shot

No, Gilbert, not that kind of long shot

In most of my travels, I’ve found the local “Chinatowns” to be pretty dirty. This goes for Boston, SF, Sydney, and NYC… where many of us have stood in between fish heads on ice and ducks in a window while waiting for a shoddy but cheap bus back to whatever city we actually live in.  Granted, it’s not as dirty as a literal town in China, but that bar isn’t exactly high. (NSFW)

In our little DC version of Chinatown, we have some big golden Chinese arches to compliment our golden big fat American arches with a variety of Asian cuisine and Chinese letters below store names. But beyond that, I would not say the Irish bar, Hooters, or Legal Seafoods count as Chinese.

And in this Asian-fusion hot pot, there is a small Mexican joint. Oh wait, make that two… no… three! That’s right, in the shadows of the John Wall’s palace there are three chain Mexican places: Chipotle, California Tortilla (aka Cal Tort to the die-hards), and Lime Fresh Mexican Grill – the subject of today’s post. At some point, someone looked at the burrito density of Chinatown and thought, “You know what this area need? Another burrito place!” taking a page from the Starbucks Business School of Strategic Density. 

Although I have been to Cal Tort before, and I promise to go back there again with my roommate, WAFC significant other, and frequent commenter under the pseudonym “Cal_tort_4_lyfe” Hustle Russell, but today was not the day for the revisit. And despite the constant long lines at the Chipotle in Columbia Heights, the Lime across the street on 14th wasn’t able to get enough spillover business to stay afloat and abruptly closed at the end of December last year, which meant this was my only shot at some Lime in the mouth.

Looking at the menu, I noticed all the real burritos (sorry, I do not count a bean burrito as a real burrito; vegans and vegetarians… I do not approve of your lifestyle choices) were the same price, $7.25, and I narrowed it down to Queso or Big Cali. I was pretty hungry and the description described it as “An XL burrito” and told me I “Better have a spotter ready.”

I also had my shirt unbuttoned

The Big Cali came with my choice of “chicken or ground beef, cilantro-lime rice, guacamole, salsa asada, cilantro, black bean corn salsa, tortilla strips, cheese, and our signature sour cream.” I selected chicken then made my way to the salsa bar to fill up my to-go containers. The selection was not as great as District Taco’s, but still hit most of the biggies – salsa verde, pico de gallo, salsa asada. In the emptiness of the mid-afternoon work day, the friendly staff came up to me to double check what I ordered and asked if I had any questions. The exchange went something like this:

ron swanson i know more than you

I took my burrito to the National Portrait Gallery, one of my favorite museums with a sweet atrium to enjoy this burrito around some culture. Like the Art of Video Games exhibit, the current special American Cool, or some college kids playing arrangements from… video games. I personally love the permanent exhibit on the US Presidents. Although Bill Clinton’s portrait really could go in the American Cool as well.

I sat down and unwrapped my burrito. I was taken by it’s lack of XL-ness. Hell, it was barely even “L.” This thing wasn’t going to stand a chance. I was afraid that I wouldn’t even be able to take notes because I’d get through it so quickly. The pleasant surprise (ie I didn’t read the menu carefully) was that the burrito came with chips! Huzzah! The salsas for the aforementioned chips were all solid, but none blew me away. The cilantro was fresh but hastily chopped with lots of big chunks and stems. Salsa verde was… fine, and salsa asada decent flavor but not hearty enough.

The tortilla was grilled, not steamed, and dry (surprise!). Here’s a lesson for all you young budding burristas out there, you need to do one of two things, either: a) steam your tortilla so it is moist and delicious, or b) grill it with some oil so it is moist and delicious. Straight grilling is a recipe for failure.

When I dug into the burrito itself, the rice immediately jumped out as flavorful. A cilantro-lime rice that actually has flavor? My word! The guacamole on the other hand… not so much. You know how good Whole Foods and Chipotle guacamole is? Well, it was nothing like that. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I think it had too much cumin. There were little hints of cheese here or there, but I guess at Lime if you want real cheese on your burrito you have to order the one with the word in the name. The chicken was plentiful, had above average flavor, and was impressively not dry at all. The salsa asada was nearly undetectable as was the sour cream. The black bean corn salsa provided texture and little else.

After this experience, I can see why people would rather wait 20 minutes for Chipotle than 5 minutes for Lime. A burrito that lacks so much character than repeated trips to the salsa bar is no bueno. And did I mention that despite being billed as “XL”, I felt ready for a few tacos for dessert at the end? Totally could have; too bad it wasn’t Taco Tuesday. If this was a yelp review, it might get 3 stars, but since this is a burritocentric review, they’re getting a big ol’ 2.5 sombreros.

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Lime Fresh Mexican Grill

726 7th St NW
Washington, DC 20001
202-638-4770
@limefreshmex
25pinos

Now the Official* Burrito Blog of the Washington Wizards!

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*Unofficial

Some of you may remember the sternly worded letter I wrote to the Baltimore Bullets Washington Wizards “basketball” team. I will spare you the details, but I highly recommend you go back and read it. I’ll wait… https://pinodegallo.wordpress.com/2010/05/14/a-sternly-worded-letter/

Welcome back. This resulted in the busiest day in Pino de Gallo history when I received a prompt response from the Director of Burrito Operations (DBO). His letter, and a breakdown of it, is posted here: https://pinodegallo.wordpress.com/2010/05/21/off-the-wall-john-wall-that-is-2/ Please go ahead and skim through that. Again… I’ll wait.

Man, you’re a slow reader. So a little while ago, I followed up with the DBO about when we could go. The day finally came, and with giddy, childlike excitement, Mabeuf, Jimmy James, Bonesaw, and yours truly headed down to the Verizon Center. There were pangs of nerves and hunger. We took plenty of pictures and I’m going to include some of the tweets I sent out during the game. (Tweets!)

 

Bonesaw & Jimmy - Top Notch Artists

Pregame Meal

The Javale McGee support system

Tweet: “Are you guys going to be embarassed if I start shouting ‘here we go wizards, here we go!’?” – Jimmy; the answer? Yes, we would be.

Much more picante up close
Also more picante up close
Nick “Forever” Young has never seen a shot he didn’t like

Tweet: Wow, the Director of Burrito Operations came through! Great seats! “HD doesn’t do Nick Young’s afro justice!” -Mabeuf
Tweet: Our first Epic Jafail moment… stupid goaltend. Then Nick “Forever” Youn drains a 3. Crowd around us not appreciating our signs… yet.

Although I didn't take this pic, I did see this in person

Tweet: Al Thornton just brought the house down with a RI-DIC-U-LOUS dunk!!

Then, the main event happened. Tweet: BURRITOS JUST DELIVERED TO THE 4 OF US @ OUR SEATS COURTESY OF THE WIZARDS & G-WIZ!

Burrito delivery service courtesy of G-Wiz

The guy on the left is the guy they planted to give us our burritos. We have no idea if we were on the Jumbotron because we were so excited at the prospect of burritos. My favorite part is the really confused guy in the Superman shirt. Not so super now, are you?

Burrito on the court!

Like Three Musketeers, but much more delicious

Tweet: So far Mabeuf & Bonesaw seem to have chicken burritos. My first 3 bites have been rice & beans.
Tweet: Ok, found the chicken! Delicious!

Living the dream

Lookin' good...

 

Sharing is caring!

 

Engrossed in the.... game... right

Tweet: “Wow, what a surprise: Mase finished his burrito before the rest of us got halfway through ours.” -Bonesaw. That’s why I run a burrito blog.

Better than the game

Tweet: “Ha there’s a kid w/ a signed Wes Unseld Bullets jersey in front of us. He must be a big Bul- uh Wiz- uh… DC basketball fan.” – Mabeuf

 

Sweet signed Wes Unseld jersey, bro

He's the foundation of our Yi-fense!

Tweet: Kiss cam may be my favorite part of every wizards game. Any way we could do this every quarter?
And with that, a bunch of white people on dance cam. Second favorite non-burrito related activity at a Wizards game.

 

The little white kids are funny because they get awkwardly excited & dance like they're having a seizure

 

Uh-oh, I think it's time to go...

Final Tweet: Uber successful trip to the game. Al Thornton’s career best dunk, a sweet Javale dunk, a 99-92 Wiz loss & burritos delivered to our seats

So, as you can see, it was a fantastic evening that exceeded our every expectations. I would like to thank the Wizards organization and the Director of Burrito Operations. Guess we can call it even now.

But wait! My beer wasn’t filled up to the top. This will not stand….

 

Mase & G-man. Boomtown.

Finally a reason to watch the Wizards

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Tonight, Pino de Gallo will be traveling to the Washington Wizards game at the Verizon Center as they host the Atlanta Basketball Hawks. In case you don’t remember, this will serve as the follow up to my sternly worded letter per the Washington Wizards’ Direct of Burrito Operations response (https://pinodegallo.wordpress.com/2010/05/21/off-the-wall-john-wall-that-is-2/)  I will be accompanied by Bonesaw, Mabeuf and Jimmy James McBeard. I will be tweeting from the game so be sure to follow me @PinodeGallo. I will be doing a write up of our experience and taking lots of pictures that will go up sometime next week.

John Wall! Javale McGee! Josh Smith! Joe Johnson! Joe Johnson’s contract! It’s the NBA in Washington DC!

 

 

Javale to the Chief, baby!

 

 

Off the Wall! (John Wall, that is)

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Looks like things are starting to turn around for the Washington Wizards organization. In a matter for a few days, they won the # 1 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft and the right to draft John Wall from the fine institution of Kentucky (team GPA: 2.025), and the Wizards decided to do community outreach in response to my sternly worded letter  (I’ll wait for you to read it…… and welcome back!) after I had a less than stellar experience at a game. Well the Wizards are a classy organization and I did in fact get a response from them. 

The # 2 reason to go to a Wizards game.

My letter was dated May 4th, and the response was postmarked May 18th. Not a bad turnaround time considering how busy the team is rolling through the playoffs– wait, sorry, I’m confusing the Wizards with the Boston Celtics again. Anyways, the turnaround time was pretty good, but the real surprise was the letter itself and what it entailed. I have scanned the response, as well as the envelope and what was included with it, and am posting it here to prove that this really happened. 

  

 

When we were at the game when the “incident” happened, the Bonesaw and I discussed writing the aforementioned sternly worded letter. After I mailed it, I posted it here and looked to the Bonesaw for his opinion, mostly because I’m insecure and constantly look to him for reaffirmation that what I write is (somewhat) funny. His response was that if I wanted to gain anything out of this (free, of the burrito nature, or otherwise), the letter was too backhanded and harsh and it would most likely get thrown out, if ever even read. He is a wise Bonesaw and made a good point, but my logic was that it’s a big organization and I was directing it to a position that may or may not exist (Director of Burrito Operations & Promotions) so worst case scenario it gets read and thrown out, or not read at all, or I get barred from ever stepping foot in the Verizon Center. It was a risk I was willing to take to show my readers how passionate I am about burritos and writing scathing letters. 

Best case scenario? The letter makes its way to the hands of someone who a) has influence at the Wizards (over burritos that is) b) has a love of burritos (thus the director of burrito operation) c) has a sense of humor and d) has time to write me back because the Wizards were so long ago out of contention. This person then writes me back a funny letter, gives me some free Chipotle stuff, and invites me to a game. Well, in case you didn’t read the letter above…. THAT JUST HAPPENED! 

The # 1 Reason to go to a Wizards game next season

Some highlights from the letter (italics = letter; regular = me): 

“Danny Zollars, Director of Burrito Operations and Promotions (or Senior Director of Game Operations)”

The second title sounds like a downgrade to me.

“…odds aren’t always great that each fan will receive one. That is still not an excuse so I have enclosed 5 burrito coupons (emphasis added) for you (yay!), your friends (Bonesaw), your family (in Mexico) or anyone else you would like to have taste a glorious Chipotle burrito.” 

I like where this guy’s head is at. He doesn’t get caught up in “numbers” or “odds”, but instead realizes that I was transgressed and it needed to be rectified. This is a good start. 

“We would love to host you next season, and it may not be opening night, but we will have you at a game and be happy to deliver a burrito to your seat.” (emphasis added) 

The drafting of John Wall gives me about 30% more of a reason to go to a Wizards game (up from roughly a 2% reason because before it was just to see the other teams… like the Celtics). I used to go to more Wizards games but Gilbert Arenas and I had a bit of a falling out after I gave him the best idea ever for a prank to play on Javaris Crittenton. 

But now? I’m definitely excited to go to more games and participate in this burrito delivery service. These are what dreams are made of. Sitting down, watching a bunch of guys infinitely more athletic than I am playing a game on a hardwood surface, drinking my overpriced beer, yelling constantly, and having beautiful women in Wizards gear deliver me burritos. Maybe I should have asked that they feed it to me too? I’m thinking of getting a crew together for whatever game I can attend and having a bunch of Pino de Gallo paraphernalia printed up. But, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. 

“Let’s stay in touch and good luck with the blog. You are on to something great (emphasis added) and I now know where I can find the wonderful burritos that I miss after moving from California 4 years ago.” 

Well, I’m glad I included my Chipotle review in my letter. Looks like he knows where it’s at. Maybe I can become the official burrito blog of the Washington Wizards? 

“Once again, thank you for your letter and I hope these coupons suppress your hunger until the Wizards kick off next season.” 

I don’t know Danny, you’re clearly underestimating me. 5 burritos to last me the long, hot DC summer? I do run a burrito blog for goodness sake! 

“P.S. These coupons allow you free guacamole as well as doubling your choice of meat at no extra charge!” 

Sold! Washington Wizards 2010-2011! Count me on the bandwagon! Pino de Gallo: Official Burrito blog of the John Wall led Washington Wizards!

A sternly worded letter….

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As most of you know, I am currently a resident of (y)our nation’s capital, Washington District of Columbia. In our delightful little city, we have a semi-professional basketball team: The Washington Wizards (they’ve got uniforms and everything!). About a month ago, I attended a game at the Verizon Center and was not happy with the service (the basketball, not the cell phone; best 3G network in the country!). I decided to put fingers to keyboard and pen to paper to express my dissatisfaction with my experience in the most effective way besides online petitions: letter writing!

I explained who I am and the situation I encountered to the Director of Burrito Operations at the Washington Wizards organization, and I cc’d Chipotle, so they were also aware of the transgression. I printed out and included a copy of my Chipotle review in both envelopes. Below is a picture of the letter and a link to the pdf.

When I hear a response from the Wizards, I will scan that and post it here as well. Enjoy!

letter to wiz