BURRITO WISDOM – a vegetarian burrito quest www.burritowisdom.com

BURRITO WIZARD CHATS WITH JOHN ROMAN

Posted in Interviews by burritowizard on February 21, 2010

The Burrito Wizard chatted with the ubiquitous John Roman of Pittsburgh through a series of emails (2/10/10 -2/17/10)

BW: As a native of Pittsburgh, what is your take on burritos?

JR: Growing up in the suburbs of Pittsburgh during the seventies, burritos were almost like some strange exotic foreign dish.  Everyone takes burrito access for granted now, but I never even had anything passing for a burrito until Taco Bell started to open franchises in our area sometime in the early to mid eighties.  I knew this wasn’t the genuine article, but I kept my eyes open for anything resembling such fare. It wasn’t until around 1990 or so that I was able to find a place that sold burritos and it wasn’t even in the city limits.  Places boasting Mexican food in this area are still somewhat scarce in these parts compared to say San Diego or Chicago.  They’re a bit more abundant, but you still might have to chomp on some turds before you find a place that you can rely on.

BW: I don’t have many nice things to say about Taco Bell these days, but there is no denying what a pioneering effort they made in spreading burritos, and Mexican Food throughout the U.S.  You mentioned Chicago and San Diego, do you have a favorite place, or several worth mentioning??

JR: There’s a place in San Diego that I’ve been to a couple of times.  I think it’s called Pokey’s (Pokez) or some shit like that.  It’s been awhile, but I remember getting hooked up pretty nice for around seven dollars. The place has atmosphere too.  The places in Chicago are a dime a dozen and all look pretty much like anything you’d expect out of that town.  File under “functional”.

BW: I feel like Chicago is to burritos what Chicago is to pizza.  You don’t meet a lot of people outside of Chicago calling it the best.  Speaking of pizza, Pittsburgh: Squirrel Hill: Murray Avenue: who has the best slice?  Are there any good burrito spots in Pittsburgh?

JR: Out of all the places on the Murray Ave strip in Squirrel Hill, Napoli’s is by far my favorite.  Somehow, they get the crust right in that crispy, but not too hard or soft kind of way. Their toppings aren’t bad either.  Pepperoni and roasted red peppers are a recurring combination of mine.  A lot of people tend to lean towards Mineo’s or Aiello’s which are a block down from Nap’s and those places are O.K. I guess, but seem to lack something in the way of craftsmanship.  Napoli’s staff is also a little more personable and it seems like it’s mainly been the same 5 or 6 people forever. Outside of the city there’s Vincent’s which is a whole different ballgame when it comes to pizza.  I don’t think they serve by the slice.  It’s a place that you go to when you have an hour or so to sit down.  Their pizza looks like the surface of the moon and the toppings are piled to somewhat of an obscene degree.  Imagine pepperoni that was chopped up in a tree shredder and whole hot sausage links chopped into about six huge chunks and you start to get the idea.  I guess this sort of tells you what kind of burrito spots there are in Pittsburgh.

Check out John Roman’s current musical projects: microwaves; Brown Angel

Wizard recommends the uniquely Pittsburgh Black and Gold Burrito @:

Mexico City

111 Smithfield St
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

(412) 391-2591

Advertisements

DOUGLAS ARMOUR

Posted in Interviews by burritowizard on June 21, 2009

douglasarmour.jpeg

The Burrito Wizard interviewed singer/ songwriter Douglas Armour through a series of emails between May 17th and May 26th 2009 :

BW: When I was in D.C. last week I went down to the Union Station food court, and found that the last remaining “original” recipe Burrito Brothers has closed.  As one of the original “Burrito Brothers” what are your thoughts?

DA: Yeah, that’s a bummer.  But I kind of feel like Burrito Brothers died awhile ago.  Once they were run out of Georgetown, Dupont Circle and Adams Morgan, it was over.  They were kind of too simple for their own good.  Looking back I feel like half the time I went there they were inexplicably closed or the person working there was nowhere to be found… this was the Adams Morgan spot specifically.  The only one that’s left in D.C. is the one on Capitol Hill, right?  There is one out by Tyson’s Corner in Northern Virginia, which is my old stomping grounds, but I’ve never been there… (Whoa, just felt an earthquake!)  Not sure if it’s the original recipe there or not. I left D.C. in 1996.

BW: I think the Virginia location is closed as well, I tried calling them and the number has been disconnected (next time I’m in the area I will try to stop by in person).
In 1996 you moved from D.C. and Burrito Brothers to S.F. what was your first impression of S.F. burritos?

 DA: When I moved to S.F. I moved into the Mission District (into an art-school and punk rawk group house on Mission Street called “the Mission House”.)  I think the first place I went to was Taqueria Cancun. Glorious.  I was in burrito Mecca.  Cancun is still my “old standby” place in S.F. … if I’m only there for a day and want to get a burrito I’ll go there.  Pancho Villa’s probably makes a better burrito but the vibe at Cancun is much better.  I mean, you could go there and just have a beer and it wouldn’t feel strange.  I think we can agree that S.F. has the best packaging of burritos out there.  Tin-foil rolled super-tight.

BW: In S.F. you lived lived away from burritos but near former “Burrito Brother” and inventor of the Hardflip Dan Gallagher ( according to Rodney Mullen )

You moved to L.A. in the late 1990’s, what are your thoughts about Los Angeles burritos???

DA: Yeah, the last year I was in S.F. I lived out in the Sunset District on 42nd Avenue a few blocks from the beach.  It was pretty bleak out there.  Not much in the burrito department but I do remember ordering vanilla and being sold Durian flavored ice cream at a Chinese ice cream place in the Sunset… yikes.  I moved to LA (the first time) in the summer of 1998.  I really think of LA as being a taco (and bacon-wrapped hot-dogs) town.  I love the taco trucks (El Taco Movil is my local truck) and the newer, higher-end specialty kind of places… like the Best Fish Taco in Ensenada, Loteria or Malo (Oaxacan cuisine, etc…)  It seems that your typical “historic” family-style Mexican place in LA like Castitas del Campo, Lucy’s El Adobe, or that place down on Western and 9th (who also run El Coyote) are really nice to hang out and have a margarita or four, but the food is kind of gnarly and expensive for what you get… a big, hot plate with refried beans, overcooked, over-seasoned rice, and melted velveeta cheese.

My favorite burrito when I first moved to LA was the vegetarian chile relleno burrito at Tacos Delta in Silverlake.  Nowadays, it’s the bean, rice and cheese burrito at Mariela’s Tacos on 3rd Street in Koreatown.  But on a whole I’m still shocked that no one in LA has come close to making a solid Mission-style burrito.

Last Spring (2008), the Burrito Wizard and Douglas Armour met up for a burrito at Washington’s Union Station for what they didn’t realize was their “Last Burrito” at Burrito Brothers, sacrificed, hopefully to rise again.

If you Haven’t seen Douglas Armour’s Headbanger video for the song Flushed and Flamelike Themselves click on this link: VIDEO

 

Burrito Wizard chats with Mick Barr (Oldest, Krallice, Ocrilim, Octis, Orthrelm, Crom-Tech)

Posted in Interviews by burritowizard on April 9, 2009
 
mick-barr-burrito-wizard

BW: In the spirit of all great talk shows, do you have something to promote?  I hear you have a new project with Brooks (Headley) that I’m excited to hear?

 

MB: –yes, me and brooks have a new band dubbed oldest. we just recorded a demo. i am excited about it. it kind of sounds like voivod and darkthrone and maybe crom tech.

 

BW: Burrito wise, what areas of the country, states, cities, or neighborhoods do you pay attention to burritos?  (the big ones: San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Chicago, New York, Texas)

 

MB: –i am probably one of the many who holds san francisco burritos in high regard. LA seems like more of a taco town. san diego seems more taquitos or enchiladas or maybe even more huevos rancheros. chicago is a burrito of a different ilk than i can understand. in NY i’ve just recently discovered that great burritos hide in the back of mexican groceries. and in texas i usually ignore the burritos and go for the barbeque.

 

BW: Can you name a single favorite burrito?  Or a few that are up there?

 

MB: –when i was living in san francisco i would go to a place called castillito pretty much everyday. the one on church street right across from safeway, not the one in the mission. at first i wasn’t completely blown away by it, just thought it was a solid hefty good burrito. but as i explored other burrito spots in town, i always went back to castillito and was really happy. and i never once got sick of it. i would mostly go for the veggie burito with the spinach tortilla, pinto beans and avocado instead of guacamole. it wasn’t bad guacamole, but it was always too cold.

 

Check out Mick’s latest project Oldest here: OLDEST

 

Download the Oldest tracks here: DOWNLOAD

 

 See Mick on tour with Krallice this May/ June: TOUR DATES with Wolves in the Throne Room and A Storm of Light.

 

EL CASTILLITO 
136 Church St San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 621-3428