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

CHARCOAL GRILL (5.25)

Posted in Downtown, Historic Core by burritowizard on August 6, 2011

108 W 2nd St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

(213) 687-8040

www.thecharcoalgrilldowntown.com

 

Measurements: 9″ circumference; 7″ length (standard size)

Build your own burrito $6.57 after tax

 

Vegetarian burritos are subtle by nature.  The simple nuances are key to a burrito’s success or failure.  Most are relegated to mediocrity.  The median is a fruitful category.  It’s rare for a clean, fresh, healthy burrito to fall below the average.  Charcoal Grill has achieved this rare feat.  Flavorless, pointless, and possibly the worst salsa in the history of time.  As a burritophile this place makes me contemplate anorexia.  The one plus: if you don’t add meat or veggies, you can build your own burrito for $5.99 + tax = $6.57.  With Chicken $9.26.

 

 

WIZARD’S SCORE: 5.25

 

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EL COCHE 6.25

Posted in Business District, Downtown by burritowizard on October 14, 2010

505 S Flower St
CIty National Plz
Los Angeles, CA 90071

Measurements: 8″ circumference; 7″ long (smaller than average)

Bean, Rice and Cheese burrito $3.84

For the past few years foodies, trend-trackers, and the general public seem to believe that tacos and burritos from food carts taste better than those cooked in a conventional kitchen.  Enter El Coche; located in the food court under the Arco building in downtown Los Angeles.  This food cart themed restaurant turns the tables on those sentiments, offering some of the fun and aesthetic of a food cart, with the enforced health code of a restaurant.  I have a soft spot for unique one-offs in food courts.

Decent standard issue salsa bar

Value: good for downtown

WIZARD’S SCORE: 6.25

LA SALSA (6)

Posted in Business District, Gringo, National Chain by burritowizard on April 5, 2010

601 West 5th Street

Los Angeles, CA 90071

(213) 623-6390

www.lasasa.com

 

Califonia (basic veggie) Burrito $5.54 after tax

Measurements: 8″ circumference; 7″ length (smaller than average)

Sitting in La Salsa neither enjoying, nor dis-enjoying my experience,I try to think of a way to describe it.  I can’t stop thinking about the novel Grendel, by John Gardner.  A heartwarming recounting of the epic Beowulf from the monster (Grendel’s) perspective.  The point is that you need to have ‘evil’ to create a ‘hero’.  But, Burrito Analysis is far more complicated.  The ‘great’ and ‘bad’, are easy to recognize.  We need mediocrity to determine the nuances between what is esculent, palatable, and delectable.  This is why La Salsa needs to exist, it is the bare minimum one should accept from a burrito place.

 

The salsa bar is beautiful, but none of the salsas are worth mentioning.

 

Value: blah

 

WIZARD’S SCORE: 6

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LALO’S (7.5)

Posted in Fashion District, Skid Row by burritowizard on February 17, 2010

400 E 7th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90014
(213) 891-1069

Vegetarian Burrito: $3.75 after tax

Measurements: 9″ circumference; 7″ length (standard size)

As the new fangled continues its march, places like Lalo’s are the last bastion of what once was.  For good or for bad, Lalo’s is as real as it gets.  Walking up to order, you cancel the rest of your appointments for the day assuming you will become deathly ill from whatever you eat.  But, it’s not that type of place.  Lalo’s is vegetarian friendly, with a burrito that is the prototypical Los Angeles style: re-fried beans, Spanish rice, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, avocado, cilantro, and onion.  Their salsas are fresh and well constructed.  I can’t help but compare this place to the food spot in the movie Colors (1988).

Usually they have their chile de arbol (left) and spicy tomatillo (right), both are excellent.  Sometimes they have a spicy tomato salsa (below)

Value: cheapest full sized burrito I’ve ever seen

WIZARD’S SCORE: 7.5

TACOMOLE (7.5)

Posted in Fashion District, Gringo by burritowizard on February 9, 2010

Located in the food court at the California Mart near the intersection of W 9th St. and S Main St.

110 East 9th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90079

(213) 689-1370

Veggie Burrito: $7.08 after tax

Measurements: 9″ circumference; 7″ length (standard size)

In the Fashion District Tacomole has been flourishing since 1985.  Probably the best burrito I’ve had from a food court, with all of the punch and integrity you’d expect from multigenerational family cooking.  Option for real pico de gallo, whole pinto beans, and everything you’d expect from a learned burrito maker.  But, as a Burritophile, there is something missing.  Maybe it’s their 3rd Division location in a food court that keeps their expectations and exposure down.   This place will not blow your mind if you seek it out on a burrito quest, but it should.  Clean, healthy, trustworthy, and off everyone’s radar.  You should know about Tacomole.

Value: Depends on what you order, but generally pricey considering other options for burritos in the area

WIZARD’S SCORE: 7.5

MAD BURRITO (6.25)

Posted in Business District, Downtown, Gringo by burritowizard on January 10, 2010

700 S Flower St
Los Angeles, CA 90017 (MACY’S PLAZA UNDERGROUND FOOD COURT)

(213) 489-5503

Measurements: 9″ circumference; 7″ length (standard size)

Vegetarian Burrito: $6.59 after tax or Been and Cheese Burrito $5.49 after tax (Whole Black Beans Only)

In Latin “Salsa Bars Omnia Vincent” means: Salsa Bars Kick Butts.  Mad Burrito should be: B.Y.O.B., bring your own burrito, but their salsa bar does kick butt.  Probably better than any salsa bar you’ll find in a corporate food court.  Macy’s Plaza, Downtown Los Angeles Business District, think Taco Bell (with actual edible food products), on steroids.

Nice thick red and green sauces, pico de gallo without jalapensos, sweet mango salsa (not pictured here), and many other fix-ins

Value: not good

WIZARD’S SCORE: 6.25

SENOR FISH – DOWNTOWN LA (8.5)

Posted in Downtown, Eagle Rock, Little Tokyo, South Pasadena by burritowizard on August 11, 2009

Senor Fish Exterior

422 E 1st Street Los Angeles, CA 90012

(213) 625-0566

www.senorfishla.com


Measurements: 9” circumference, 7” length (standard size)


Veggie or Tofu burrito = $6.53 after tax

Bean + Cheese burrito = $4.34 after tax


Pulitzer Prize winning food-ologist Jonathan Gold praised Senior Fish in his review almost a decade ago. Shocking to vegetarians, Burrito Wisdom has deemed Senor Fish one of the best veggie burritos in L.A.  It’s one of the best because of their fresh ingredients, original recipes, 5 different sauces at the self serve salsa bar, and fresh pico de gallo w/ jalapenos.


I awarded the Downtown Los Angeles Senor Fish with the “Best Vegetarian Burrito in Los Angeles” for the first half of 2009, but in July 2009 they tweaked their recipe and decreased the size of their burritos.  These changes lowered their score and knocked them out of the first position.


Vegetarian burrito: Zucchini/ corn based vegetable medley, whole pinto beans (no lard), Spanish rice (red), guacamole, crema, cabbage and cheese in a flour tortilla.  The Tofuritto is great!  Not a big fan of tofu in Mexican, but this works.  Breaded tofu sauteed in a Sriracha sauce (Thai hot sauce).  Similar to the veggie burrito minus the zucchini based medley, plus marinated tofu.


Best sauces: Habanero (hottest), and house salsa (mildest). In between: Chipotle, Guajillo, Verde. The habanero is a light reddish orange that has a distinct spicy flavor. The house salsa is a great burrito compliment too.  Senor Fish is unconventional, their burritos and salsas are outside of the box.  If you are a conservative burrito eater you may not “get” Senor Fish.


senor-fish-piano-salsa-bar

Value: Fair considering the salsa bar


WIZARD’S SCORE: 8.5


Downtown Los Angeles/ Little Tokyo

South Pasadena

Eagle Rock

www.burritowisdom.com

EL HUARACHE VELOZ (THE FAST SANDAL) (6.5)

Posted in Historic Core by burritowizard on August 9, 2009

camera-jan-08-0542

510 South Broadway Los Angeles, CA 90013

(213) 617-7058


Measurements: 9” circumference, 7” length (standard size)

Vegetarian Burrito = $5.83 after tax


El Huarache Veloz translated directly is the fast sandal, but is denoting huarache (their specialty dish).  Huaraches are oblong fried pieces of mesa with varied toppings, differing from sopes in shape only.


The vegetarian burrito is not on the menu, it consists of: re-fried pinto beans, Spanish rice w/ corn, peas, and carrots, grated cheese, lettuce, tomato, sliced avocado in a grilled tortilla.  Beans taste lard free, rice probably made with chicken stock.

camera-jan-08-0521

No salsa bar.  Burrito comes with salsa verde: a light yet hearty mildly spiced and hearty perfect compliment to the burrito.  You can ask for the red sauce: a rich pastier spicy sauce that resembles enchelada sauce.


Three locations: Pacoima, Van Nuys and downtown on Broadway (I’ve only been to the downtown location).


Value: so so



WIZARD’S SCORE: 6.5