Tweetle Beetle Burrito Battle

January 7, 2010

Sorry, I was reading Dr. Seuss’ “Fox in Socks” last night, and the whole rhyming thing has stuck with me.  But today’s topic is indeed burritos, specifically where to find the good ones here in the Northeast.  If you read my review a few weeks ago of Los Cunados, a taqueria in California, and you’re wondering if anywhere around here can measure up to that (or even come close), then I’ll spoil it for you now – NO.  So what’s a California boy to do when that burrito craving hits out here in the frozen winter tundra?

I have heard rumor of a burrito place in Boston that rules the Northeast burrito kingdom, but since I have yet to try it, I can only lay testament to the following locations:

Moe’s Southwest Grill:  this is a pretty widespread chain, especially in the western part of the country, but they do have several locations around here.  I like Moe’s a lot – their tortillas are made daily, the ingredients are always fresh and include things like jalapenos (freshly chopped or pickled), cilantro and even bacon, and they pack their burritos nice and full.  Their beef and chicken fillings are ok, but I highly recommend their chili verde pulled pork – it’s flavorful and juicy.  Moe’s also offers a few tasty salsas to compliment the burrito, and for around $8 you can get chips and a drink as well.  A good deal for good food.

Bomber’s Burrito Bar:  with two locations now in New York’s Capital Region, Bomber’s would seem like a superior establishment to quench your burrito craving.  Unfortunately, Bomber’s focus seems to be on their bar/late night scene and cheap food, at the expense of quality.  Bland meat is rolled up in obviously store-bought tortillas, and is topped with cold – yes, cold – salsa.  If you’re looking for a place with lots of tequila, single guys and gals out to party, and some cheap eats, Bomber’s is for you.  But if you want a quality burrito, as their name implies, look elsewhere.

Bros. Tacos:  this place opened up a few years ago in Albany by two brothers who had traveled around the country, getting ideas on how to make authentic Mexican-American food.  Bros offers burritos, tacos and quesadillas, with a large variety of salsas and ingredients.  There is a very “Baja” essence to their food – fresh and tasty.  They hand-make their tortillas every day, and the burritos are pretty good.  My main complaint is that they do not have just plain rice – their rice is made every day with lots of black beans throughout.  I personally don’t like beans, but I love rice in my burrito, so I am forced to either omit the rice, or pick out all the beans…either way it’s not a fun way to eat a burrito.  The other strange thing they do is cut their burritos in half, like a wrap.  It’s easy enough to just ask them not to cut it, but it’s odd that they would do so in the first place.  But the prices are reasonable, and the food is tasty…apart from the burritos I really like their street vendor-style roasted corn on the cob, covered in queso blanco and spices.

Chipotle:  this national chain has just recently made its way to the Northeast, and it’s a welcome addition.  It has a lot of similarity to Moe’s – the homemade tortillas, the fresh ingredients, the price…but in my mind, Chipotle’s meat offerings place it just a tad above Moe’s.  The chicken is very flavorful, and they offer carnitas (marinated pork) as well as barbacoa, shredded beef cooked in a very flavorful sauce.  Chipotle also lets you know how environmentally friendly they are, as a lot of the décor is made from recycled materials.

So I guess it’s not surprising that in a region not known for having great Mexican cuisine, the best burrito places are national chains.  If anyone has a recommendation (or has been to that Boston place), I’m always on the lookout for a great foil-wrapped torpedo of meat, rice and veggies.


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