By Samantha Spoto
Champ’s Diner’s Loaded Breakfast Burrito. Photos by Samantha Spoto.
At the start of 2015, I scribbled a list of goals I wanted to achieve over the course of the coming 52 weeks, but none more practical for myself than the one scrawled midway down the page: “Eat more burritos.”
Those who know me well wondered how I could possibly eat more burritos than I had in previous years, considering I have lured and enticed my friends to accompany me on countless burrito-tasting excursions, often putting my cravings ahead of their own. If you do not particularly enjoy or hunger for burritos, never ask me where I would like to grab a bite to eat. The answer will always be a restaurant where the options for burritos are boundless and no price is too high for a taste of a warm tortilla blanket filled with rice and beans.
Despite my friends’ remarks, I have already spent the last two months working towards my big burrito goal. For the next year, if there is a burrito on the menu, I will be eating it. Goodbye tacos, quesadillas, chimichangas, enchiladas, huevos rancheros, and tamales. My stomach will sorely miss you for the next 11 months.
As February comes to a close, I have consumed a total of 15 burritos, which averages out to approximately two burritos each week and 7.5 each month. At this rate, I am on pace to eat 90 burritos over the course of the year. However, 100 seems like a much rounder number—and I clearly have an affinity for round things—so here begins the chronicling of my year-long “100 Burritos” challenge.
In the heart of the Hudson Valley, you will find the mesmerizing Mohonk Mountain. You will find a quaint suburb and my alma matter, SUNY New Paltz. Most importantly, you will find Mexicali Blue—a Southwestern/Californian-style restaurant that seats no more than 10 people at once. And there is where you will most likely find me. I ate my first burrito of the year at Mexicali Blue: a chili lime chicken burrito, fully equipped with rice, black beans, red onion, cilantro, pico de gallo, crema, and the key component to any Mexican meal: guacamole.
With ingredients like lime, cilantro, and herb sour cream as their staples, Mexicali Blue prepares the freshest burritos I have tasted. I often pair them with one of their dozen unique and flavorful hot sauces, although I’m partial to their raspberry and coconut flavors. Most of their menu items include guacamole, but for the few that don’t, you’ll be asked to pay an additional charge.
This won’t be the last you will hear of Mexicali Blue. I’ve marked my calendar for a visit upstate next week and I intend to try the crowd favorite: the catfish burrito.
Bamboleo’s Ranchero Burrito.
I tasted my next memorable burrito at Bamboleo, an intimate Mexican restaurant in Greenwich Village. I discovered Bamboleo from a friend, who posted a picture of a beautiful burrito to Instagram. Naturally, I hounded her for the address and the next day I, too, had shared a very similar photo of my delicious—and fairly inexpensive—dinner. As I dined, I sat next to a window that looked out on Bleeker Street and passersby could see me shovel a burrito into my mouth like a caged animal at the zoo.
I ordered the Ranchero Burrito, which is “a 12″ soft flour tortilla filled with rice, beans, guacamole, cheese, lettuce, and pico (served with sides of sour cream and salsa).” Although tempted to order the other, less traditional burritos—like the Surf and Turf Burrito or the Al Pastor Burrito—I chose the simple option for one reason: it was the only burrito listed on the menu that included guacamole. If I had ordered the others, I would have been charged an additional price of $1.25 for guacamole.
In retrospect, I would have paid the fee, but this self-proclaimed burrito connoisseur is attempting to rebel against the indecent act of charging extra for guac. Overall, I enjoyed the hefty and savory burrito and would return to try another. Despite the additional charges, I recommend taking a visit to Bleeker Street for a taste of Bamboleo’s burritos and happy hour spread. (If you order a pitcher of margaritas or sangria, you receive a free plate of chips and guacamole.)
Happy hour or not, I eat burritos at all times of the day. I have grown particularly fond of burritos for brunch. In the past two months, I tasted two delicious brunch burritos, both from diners in Williamsburg. I had the first at Champ’s Diner, a strictly vegan establishment. While there, I ordered the Loaded Breakfast Burrito, packed with “field-roast chorizo sausage, tofu scramble, bell peppers, cheese, home fries, sauteed kale, sour cream, and chives.” Ranchero sauce and chipotle mayo topped the whole wheat tortilla.
B.A.D. Burger’s Brunchito.
I ate the other brunch burrito at B.A.D. Burger where I was enticed by the “ALL DAY BRUNCH” signs. I ordered the Brunchito—a tortilla filled with scrambled eggs, gruyere, roasted red peppers, sauteed onions, crispy smoked bacon, avocado, and chipotle mayo. Between bites, I snacked on a side of home fries. For those with strict dietary needs, the Brunchito may be prepared vegan and gluten-free.
Aside from the bland wait staff, I left B.A.D. Burger with one complaint—they cut the burrito in half. In keeping with proper burrito etiquette, halving a burrito is a big burri-no.
Both Champ’s Diner and B.A.D Burger served fresh and hearty burritos that catered to my hankering for breakfast. Although I paid more at these diners than I generally do for a burrito, they were worthy of the few extra dollars I spared from my wallet.
Of the 15 burritos I have had the pleasure of eating this month, the Jamburrito from Mexicue—a restaurant that serves items “inspired by two of America’s favorite comfort foods: Mexican & BBQ”—was the one wrapped in a metaphorical gold foil. Full of “chicken and chorizo Mexican jambalaya, black beans, pico de gallo, cotija cheese, and a creamy chipotle sauce,” the Jamburrito left me nostalgic for my summer spent feasting on Louisiana Creole dishes in New Orleans. This burrito lacked avocado; however, the Jamburrito is rare in that guacamole may have spoiled the pure southern-style flavors so adeptly developed. I called in my order for delivery, but I intend to sit in for my next visit to Mexicue. I have my eye on the Green Chili Pork Burrito as well as the Burnt Ends Brisket Burrito.
In the interim of frequenting these notable places, I settled for overpriced, yet convenient, burritos from chain establishments like Green Cactus and Chipotle. Each time I ordered from Chipotle, the server said to me “Guac is $2.10 extra, is that okay?” “Of course not,” I thought. To charge extra for that crucial ingredient is a crime. I always pay, however, because I cannot fathom the thought of a burrito without that creamy, mashed avocado. Sometimes in love, there is heartache.
But, here’s to the next 15 burritos.