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I love burritos, and have often lamented about the fact that there is not a good one in Midtown (here, here, here and here). More than anything that comes from past experience, and experiences. I have had some truly great burritos over the years, that hold special places in my heart… the Carnitas Super Burrito at Anna’s Taqueria (Boston), the Chicken Mole Burrito at Casa Diaz in Los Feliz (Los Angeles), the Baja Chicken Burrito at Baja Fresh (locations everywhere in the U.S. except Manahattan!), the Huarache I had two weeks ago at the Ballfields in Red Hook, and finally, the gigantor Carnitas Burrito at La Costena (Mountain View California)… it’s what all carnitas burritos aspire to be.
Erasing all of those delicious burritos out of your mind, there is another category of Mexican food, or tex-mex, or whatever you want to call it that is a decent meal as long as you don’t compare it to the top of the heap. For example, the Chicken Gordita Supreme at Taco Bell. A tasty concoction that is perfectly good, and with none of the “side effects” commonly associated with eating at a place like Taco Bell. It’s a deliciously soft and squishy pita type tortilla, with plain grilled chicken, lettuce, tomato, cheese and sour cream on top. No fake ground beef, no weird refried beans that send you to the toilet 15 minutes later. I wouldn’t call it “great Mexican food”, but it’s a decent meal if you have to eat fast food.
A few months ago I discovered the world of Midtown “Taco” Carts when I ate at the Sombrero topped cart on 50th btw. 6+7th. A world where nacho cheese reigns supreme, and ground beef and stewed chicken are your only two meat choices. Soft corn tortillas are nowhere to be found, replaced by those crunchy yellow things that I’ve only seen at Taco bell, and in Ortega boxes in the Supermarket. There are a lot of burritos and tacos I would choose above this type of place… but that doesn’t take away from the fact that if you are into hard shell tacos, and ground beef and nacho cheese- than this kind of place is going to be perfectly satisfying.
Thanks to an email tip, I discovered another Taco Cart (sadly, with no sombrero) for eastsiders looking for a lunch of nacho cheese and ground beef… with a surprisingly decent “chicken burrito”. Pics and the +/- after the jump….
It’s been a few months since I last ate at Chipotle, and the craving for a burrito is back in full force. “I could really use a burrito. I’m sure Chipotle is not as bad as I remember it! Look at the gigantic lines! Everybody loves Chipotle… i’m sure it will be delicious!” Luckily my original post serves as a reminder of how I feel (“Free Chipotle is the only good Chipotle“), and I decided instead to hit up Burritoville with a friend from work.
I tried Burritoville once before (the one on 9th ave.), when I first moved here from L.A. Seeking a substitute for the burritos I could get on the west coast, I knew I wasn’t going to replace the real deal authentic burritos- but I was at least hoping to find a replacement for Baja Fresh (My go-to work lunch in L.A. There was one across the street from my office, and I probably ate there 2-3 times a week).
At the one on 9th ave. I got the “Holy Mole” burrito, and was pretty underwhelmed. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great. I probably should have known that I wasn’t going to get a great mole from a place that felt the need to add funny names to their burritos. I remember thinking “This place isn’t that bad. I probably am disappointed because I just moved here, and I’m used to the good stuff.”
With that in mind, I returned to Burritoville- hoping to find a Chipotle substitute for when my Burrito addiction rears it’s ugly head. Pictures, and the +/- after the jump…
When Chipotle opened up in the bottom of my building I spent a full week lamenting how bad Midtown (and even New York in general) had become for finding good Mexican food. Of course, “Good Mexican food” can mean alot of things to alot of different people. For me, it means there are a) no good burritos (hold the “cilantro and lime rice” please), and b) no good authentic tacos.
If you need an example of what I’m talking about, go to Tehuitzinga on 10th Ave. (btw. 47th & 48th) after work one night. It’s far west, but worth the trip. It’s a tiny bodega that happens to have a small window in the back, where these two women turn out some of the best tacos I’ve ever had. And by “best” I mean done the way they do them on every street corner in L.A. (where I spent the two years before I moved to NYC). Nothing fancy… just good. Two soft corn tortillas, some delicious meat (roast pork, delicious stringy beef, stewed chicken, etc), onions, cilantro and some salsa verde on the side. Delicious! No hard shell tacos served from a cart with a sombrero. No fancy rice or grilled vegetables. The real deal.
When I wrote these things a month ago, I got a number of suggestions for good Mexican food in Midtown- and they all pointed me to the same place: Pampano Taqueria. It was recommended to me as a great place, with delicious tacos and burritos, in the basement of this building on 3rd Ave. btw. 49th & 50th. With visions of Tehuitzinga East running through my head… I ventured cross town in search of some decent Midtown Mexican!
My disappointment, happy surprise, pictures, and the +/- all after the jump…
The lack of good Mexican food in New York City is a well known fact. You saw what happened when Midtown got a Chipotle. It shows how pathetic our choices for Mexican really are. In L.A. (where I used to live) taco stands are a way of life… and it boggles my mind that so few places in NYC are able to recreate something that seems so simple. 2 Soft corn tortillas, some good roast pork or chicken, and some salsa (preferably salsa verde). If anybody wants a place to try after work, trek over to 10th avenue btw. 47th and 48th- Tehuitzinga is outstanding.
Anyway, I’ve heard rumors that Pampano Taqueria on 3rd Ave. is the only worthwile Taco in Midtown- but on this day I was on my back from a failed trip to the Burger Joint (line was too long) and decided to stop at this taco cart that some people from my work had eaten at. And quite frankly, how could you blame me? Could you resist a cart that looks like this one. I mean, nothing says authentic quite like a giant sombrero with a picture of Speedy Gonzalez on it (aren’t there any Trademark lawyers in Midtown?). But that’s typical Midtown for you. Dumbing it down for the business lunch crowd… “Can you tell we’re not a halal cart by our big stupid looking Mexican hat?” I wonder if you can see it from the top of Rockefeller Center?
Despite the sombrero, I decided to try the place out. I love trying dirty, annonymous carts- and this one certainly fits the bill. For $4 you get a Taco with Chicken or Beef, Spanish Rice and Beans w/ melted cheese. $7 will get you the same combo with two tacos. For the sake of comparison (and because I’m a fat bastard), I went with the two taco combo (one beef, one chicken). The minute he started making my meal, I had a sneaking suspicion I was in big big trouble.
Pictures of the food, and the +/- after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »
It’s funny. This will be my fourth post about Chipotle since Friday… and I’m embarassed. Not just for my blog- but for Midtown too. Why is everyone in my office so excited for Chipotle? And why did I get so caught up in it? I don’t even like Chipotle! It just goes to show how starved we are in Midtown for good food. So sick of the same things day after day, a mediocre overpriced McBurrito is like some sort of Holy Grail of dining. Here’s what I said about Chipotle a month ago, when I heard it was opening in my building:
For me, Chipotle is like a bad Chinese Buffet. I have to go back once every three months, and feel sick, to remind myself why I only go once every three months. See, I distinctly remember what my brain told me the last time I ate Chiptole… “Never eat here again”. But that was three months ago, and my burrito starved body is wondering, “Maybe this time it will be different…everyone seems pretty excited… maybe I was wrong about Chipotle.”
Well, it hasn’t been three months… but last night I finally discovered a way to enjoy Chipotle. Eating there for free. Free food always tastes better… it’s just a fact. And Chipotle proved that once again last night. We got one of those passes for free dinner on Monday night, and decided to check it out then, rather then wait on line today during free Buritto day (which is from 11am to 8pm by the way).
What we ate, and the Chipotle +/- after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »