By Samantha Spoto
El Coco. Photos by Samantha Spoto.
I reached my peak last month. I was 13 burritos down with a few days left in May.
I started the month with a meal from 10th Ave Burrito, a quick drive south of Asbury Park, New Jersey. I made the spontaneous decision to hitch a ride down the shore only a few hours before the end of the work day. I had sold my ticket for The Loved Ones reunion show at Asbury Lanes and then later realized I would fully regret that decision. So, I bought another ticket for the sold-out show from a woman on Craigslist.
It has become a ritual of mine, it seems, to eat a burrito before a concert. The exhilaration that comes along with watching one of your favorite bands perform is only heightened when you are full on your favorite food. In the heart of rush hour traffic, I searched for burrito spots near the venue and discovered 10th Ave.
I arrived at a crowded restaurant with couples and families grinning with the anticipation of being seated. For a weeknight, I found myself impressed by the amount of people dining out and willing to wait for food. A good sign, in my eyes. I ordered my ‘rito to go, since I had to meet my Craigslist friend before the show.
El Luchador Burrito at 10th Ave Burrito.
On the road, I ate the El Luchador Burrito, a tortilla stuffed with chorizo, potatoes, caramelized onions, roasted corn, and cheese. In my haste, I forgot to ask for guacamole. But even without it, my burrito tasted delectable. I have become quite the fan of potatoes in burritos. The El Luchador was no exception. I wish I had more time to savor it, but I had songs to shout back at bands.
I’m certain that I will find myself back in Asbury Park soon, whether at the lanes, or the Stone Pony, or just scouring the beach for Bruce Springsteen. And when I return, I will definitely grab another bite at 10th Ave. I already have my eye on the Orange Glazed Mahi Burrito.
I tried another new place this month: Pico Tequila Grill in Bayshore, Long Island. One of my closest friends lives a few towns away from Bayshore, and a few towns away from Bayshore is Bubba’s Burrito Bar–a place I have raved about before.
In a matter of days, my friend will be moved into an apartment and starting a career in Colorado. As a last hoorah of sorts, my friends and I knew no better way to celebrate his new chapter than with one last stop at Bubba’s, where we have spent so many nights before. Unfortunately, the holiday weekend threw a wrench in our plans: Bubba’s was closed. The silver lining, however, was the foil wrapped around our burritos at Pico Tequila Grill.
I ordered the Fajita Burrito, with “grilled chicken, carne asada, sauteed peppers, onions, lime rice, shredded jack and cheddar cheeses, sour cream, guacamole, and pico de gallo.”
You may have figured out the method to my ordering by now; I almost always opt for the burrito that includes guacamole. (Five months into this challenge and I am as mad as ever about the extra charge for guac.) The Fajita Burrito tasted delicious. This large portion left me feeling full after I had eaten three-quarters of the burrito. I struggled through the last quarter. The chefs equally distributed the ingredients and rolled it fairly well. I did need to pick up my fork at one point, but I hold no grudges there.
I would definitely return to Pico Tequila Grill, perhaps to try the BBQ Pork Burrito or the Crispy Fish Burrito. In all the goodness that is Pico Tequila Grill, I do offer one warning: they lack vegetarian options. The lime rice is made with chicken stock, and the pinto beans are cooked with pork. If you have dietary restrictions, be wary when you order.
I can offer my vegetarian and vegan friends another alternative: Blockheads. I’ve written about this restaurant before, but I recently returned to find more options for the herbivores. Five of their menu items come specifically without meat: Rice & Bean, Spinach, Toasted Tofu, Mushroom Medley, and the Super Vegenator. Those with a vegan diet have the option to turn any of the other menu items into one that matches their needs without sacrificing staple ingredients.
Fear not, Blockheads offers vegan cheese and tofu sour cream. I shared my vegetarian meal with a friend who I have known for the last three years but had not met until this month. The Canada-United States border might separate us, but it warms me to know that we could come together after all of these years to share a burrito. She ate the entire burrito, too. If I had any doubts about my friend before I met her (I didn’t), she proved that she knows how to hang.
Fire Belly Korean BBQ’s Sesame Chicken Burrito.
The concept of this next burrito threw me for a loop, but I didn’t mind. Through the hustle and bustle of NYC, everything seems to stop for Mad. Sq. Eats, “a semi-annual culinary pop-up market in the heart of the Flatiron District.” With nearly 30 vendors serving food to the hard-working people of Manhattan, you are sure to find variety in taste. And I found just that at Fire Belly Korean BBQ, a food truck and pop-up kitchen that fuses Korean BBQ with Mexican.
I tried their Sesame Chicken Burrito, which comes with seasoned chicken, rice, and kimchi. For a burrito with so few ingredients, it sure made a lasting impression on me. The flavor from the kimchi powered the burrito in the best way imaginable. The spicy and sour tang paired perfectly with the chicken and rice. Unfortunately, Mad. Sq. Eats has closed shop and won’t return until the fall. But don’t fret, you can follow Fire Belly Korean BBQ on their Facebook page to find out where they’ll be serving you next.
Aside from the burritos I have written about above, I hit some of the usual spots: Mexicali Blue, El Coco (twice), Tito Santana Taqueria, and Bubba’s Burrito Bar. I ate a burrito from a small cafe in New Paltz and another from a diner in Long Beach. I also had two homemade burritos, one that a nice friend made me for Saturday brunch and the other that you can find here.
Over the last five months, this one food item has brought me to wonderful people. It has allowed me to sit down at a table with old friends and new. It has connected me to people who have taken on the same challenge (yes, I found someone else who keeps count of their burrito intake and, yes, I am roughly 20 burritos ahead of him). Of course, a great tasting burrito is important to me, but I’ll eat a not-so-great one or two if it means I can keep meeting new people and making memories. I’m excited to keep on along this ride. Who knows who else I will find on the way.
Burrito Count: 48