Guac Is Extra: November

Before I revel in the glorious memory of my 100th burrito, let me dish about number 99. I ate this the morning I landed in Gainesville’s downtown at Bagels and Noodles, an interesting combination of American breakfast foods and Asian cuisine. I don’t quite understand the desire to combine the two under one roof, but that is for another time. I had a long day ahead of me and needed a meal to tide me over for the long haul. I ordered the breakfast burrito, rolled and filled with eggs, vegetables, sausage, and cheese. I also added a side of hash browns; if a breakfast burrito doesn’t already come with potatoes inside the tortilla, I need to get my potato fix somewhere else, even if it’s a side job. In terms of burritos, I can’t say I was pleased with its showing. I found it to be a bit greasy and, ultimately, it didn’t sit very well with me. Up until this point, I mostly avoided bad burritos. Leading up to my Bagels and Noodles trip, I didn’t have 99 problems, but this burrito may have been my one.

On the other hand, the experience of eating my 100th burrito exceeded all of my expectations. As I hoped, I met my mark at Boca Fiesta in Gainesville, FL surrounded by my closest friends the day after my Bagels and Noodles visit. And, as planned, I ordered the Gator Burrito. The tortilla came filled with golden-fried gator tail, chipotle aioli, lettuce, beans, rice, pico de gallo, and cilantro. I added sour cream and guacamole for an additional dollar. Big burrito milestones call for all the extra ingredients I can fit in a tortilla. When the waitress delivered the burritos to our table, mine had six colorful candles with the phrase “Happy Birthday” spelled out in aioli. Confused, I told her she had the wrong table. Immediately, my now disgruntled party of six began yelling at me. It turns out, this was my burrito after all. Somehow, my friends managed to convince the staff to bring this beautiful, celebratory burrito to my table without me knowing. We celebrated my 23rd birthday, which happened two weeks prior to this meal, and my 100th burrito. As I took my first bite, Bruce Springsteen played over the restaurant’s speakers. There certainly was magic in that night.

After may hours digesting the several burrito babies burrowing in my belly, I went to Flaco’s Cuban Bakery for their Plantain Burrito. I wish I had thought to take a few back with in my suitcase. As wonderful and commemorative Boca Fiesta had been, I can undoubtedly say that Flaco’s stole my stomach’s love—not only that weekend, but this year. Pressed between a warm flour tortilla, Flaco’s fills the burrito with plantains, rice, beans, cheese, and sour cream. For an additional price, customers have the option to add one of several sauces. Being that I have an affinity for guac, I opted for the avocado garlic choice both times I ate at Flaco’s.

Before I left Gainesville, I obviously needed to try one last burrito. I headed to Pop-A-Top, a bodega on the corner of the city’s main street. I grabbed one last breakfast rito for the road and devoured it in the rental car on the drive back to Jacksonville’s airport. A classic case of eating your sadness, brought to you by me. What better food to do that with than with a warm breakfast burrito. For quick, cornerstone food, this bite hit the spot. It had all the makings of a flavorful breakfast, with both meat and veggie options ready to go on the spot.

Like any rational person, my burrito binge probably should have stopped there. But, clearly bloated by the eight burritos I consumed in half the amount of days, I wasn’t thinking straight. When I finally landed back in New York, I went in search of a quick dinner. I found myself at Chipotle, eating a mediocre meal.  After that, I took a bit of a hiatus. Not because I had become sick of burritos (because I definitely have not become sick of burritos), but because I left my favorite burritos behind me, I wanted to hold out for ones that caught my eye.

Midway through the month, I stumbled upon Calaveras Mexican Grill in Brooklyn. I ordered the Nopales Asados Burrito, grilled cactus with rice, refried beans, cheese, and lettuce. I added guacamole for an additional dollar. At this point, I walk around with a pin that says “I know guac is extra.” Before Calaveras, I had never eaten cactus. Honestly, I didn’t even realize people ate the succulent. It mostly looked and tasted like green peppers. The consistency and color matched the peppers perfectly. The rest of the contents melted together nicely. As interesting as this burrito sounds, it had too much salt for my liking and the ratios were a bit off. Sometimes you prick your ears up for the wrong things. Nonetheless, I’m glad I gave it a go.

I made my last stop of the month at the Phoenicia Diner, tucked away in the Catskills. This diner has been on my radar for quite a while, but I only just now have found my way there. I opted for their breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese, chorizo, black beans, and a spicy green salsa on the side, all locally sourced from Hudson Valley farms. I also ordered a side of their famous Phoenicia potatoes. As far as breakfast burritos go, I’ve had better but I’ve had worse. I really should have went with my gut and ordered the biscuits and gravy, but I’ve learned my lesson. I’ve noticed that chorizo seems to be the trend these days, but I’m not sure I’m willing to ride that hype wave. I’d rather keep my breakfast basic.

Next time you hear from me, I will have compiled a list of the most memorable burritos I have tasted over the last 12 months. My goal-oriented eating endeavors may mostly be over, but I want to serve you up a final rank of the best bites to eat if you’re ever in the neighborhood.

Burrito Count: 110

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