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

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

AVOCADO GRILL (7)

Posted in Gringo, Larchmont by burritowizard on February 8, 2010

217 N Larchmont Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90004

(323) 962-3880

Bean, Rice & Cheese Burrito: $6.53 after tax ($.75 to add guacamole)

Measurements: 8.5″ circumference; 7″ long (slightly smaller than average)

In Larchmont, one expects to see jogging moms, and dad’s with baby carriages, but not a decent burrito spot.  Enter Avocado Grill, not a landmark for burrito enthusiasts, but better than many spots semi-coveted by the burrito elite.  In the hopeless argument to determine who has the closest example of a Mission style burrito in L.A., Avocado Grill has been mentioned.  Five adjectives: authentic, confused, clean, California, misunderstood.  Dim lights, no smoke, no music; Avocado Grill leaves one wondering how, why, and again how this place has not been taken over by the Napoleonic Chipotle??

Salsa Bar:  Red Sauce (far right/ left of the jalapenos) = thumbs above neutral; Green Sauce = thumbs significantly above neutral; hodge podge b-b-q red sauce (far left) = not sure exactly what they were thinking?  They give you chips to enjoy their sauces, but none of their sauces have any business getting near a burrito.  P.S. Nothing says “Gringo” like calling a pile of tomatoes pico de gallo.

Value: Great if you stay away from the specialty burritos

WIZARD’S SCORE: 7

TARASCOS (7.5)

Posted in Silver Lake by burritowizard on February 3, 2010

3319 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026
(323) 669-3300

www.tarascoslamexicanrestaurant.com


Vegi-Burrito: $6.59 after tax

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

Both black and re-fried beans are vegetarian (no lard)

Rice is made with chicken stock

Tarascos is the best example of a vegetarian burrito taqueria in the Silver Lake/ Echo Park area.  Nice outdoor seating, ample parking and complimentary chips and salsa make it a great place to hang out.  They have several types of veggie burritos, including a San Diego style California Burrito, so read the menu carefully before ordering.  Their salsa is exquisite, particularly their chile de arbol salsa (pictured below upper right orange/ red) .  The habanero is as hot as you’d expect from one of the spiciest peppers (pictured lower center).  Tomatillo is mild (pictured upper left green).  Their house salsa fresca tastes like they’ve been working on the recipe for decades (not pictured).  They have whole black beans or re-fried pinto beans.  Open until 3 AM on weekends.

Again, read the menu carefully, and order carefully

Value:  Good for the area

Hours of Operation:

Monday – Thursday 5:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Friday 5:00 p.m. – 3:00 a.m., Sat 10:00 a.m.- 3:00 a.m.

Sunday 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.

WIZARD’S SCORE: 7.5

LOS JALAPENOS (7)

Posted in Pennsport, South Philadelphia by burritowizard on July 6, 2009

Los Jalapenos Exterior

1800 S 4th Street Philadelphia, PA 19147

(215) 468-1828

www.threejalapenos.com

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

Guacamole Burrito $5.99 plus tax.

Quaint owner operated taqueria/ grocery store located in Philly’s south side Italian neighborhood.  After a day of driving around Philadelphia (one of the country’s most livable cities) on our way back from the FDR, we stopped at a Los Jalapenos (after passing on El Fuego).   Embodying the best qualities of an East Los Angeles vegetarian burrito, Los Jalapenos is muy authentico.  All vegetarian: the usual ingredients; refried beans only.  Perfect red and green sauces, divine fresh juices and groceries, how can you lose?

Los Jalapenos Burrito

WIZARD’S SCORE: 7

Calexico Cart (6.25)

Posted in Soho by burritowizard on July 2, 2009

Calexico Cart

www.calexicocart.com

Measurements: 8.5″ circumference, 6.5″ length (smaller than average)

Black Bean Vegetarian Burrito $6 after tax.


For those who can remember hanging out in the suburbs and exurbs of today’s bustling epicenters, you may remember the glorious adventures to Taco Bell at 11:30pm on a school night.  That’s what Calexico Cart feels like at it’s best (although only open for lunch).  At its worst, its “bachelor kitchen” burritos should offend even the simple coffee and bagel cart vendors.  But, the price is right at Calexico, and it’s fun getting a burrito on the street amidst the Soho feeding frenzy.  Probably the best and most informative website of any burrito spot i’ve seen.  And, let’s face it, carts are “in” right now, especially taco carts.  Like Michael Jackson, they’re all over cable news, and have set the world aTwitter.  Lindbergh would be jealous of the love and attention taco carts are getting from the public and media.  Sometimes carts are good, but rarely great, especially for vegetarians.  Calexico: tastes like they use the Taco Bell sauce (from the packets) in their food.. pico de gallo con vinegar.  Still better than Chipotle.

Calexico Burrito

WIZARD’S SCORE: 6.25

UNCLE MOE’S (6.5)

Posted in Flatiron, Gringo, Park Slope by burritowizard on June 26, 2009

Uncle Moe's Exterior

14 West 19th Street New York, NY 10011
(212) 727-9400

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

Vegetarian Burrito $7.95 after tax

All rice and beans are vegan

uncle moe’s menu

To view the menu click the above link, which will direct you to a comment screen, then click on the link one more time to load the pdf file.

Touting an East Los Angeles theme, but reflecting the whole of California, Uncle Moe’s is one of the few authentic feeling taquerias  in the NYC area.  The menu is complicated, so take a minute to look it over and feel free to ask questions.  The Vegetarian comes with guacamole, or you can order one of the other burritos and choose a filling or two.  Offering black or pinto beans and a slew of veggie fillings (some of which change seasonally) Uncle Moe’s gives you the variety you need.

Uncle Moe's Burrito

Also, one of the only places to offer a salsa bar (an L.A. staple) in the NYC area.  Some creative spicing choices that may or may not jibe with conventionalists.  The first Uncle Moe’s opened in 1991 in Park Slope, I visited their second (of 2) stores in Manhattan.  I’ve been to the Brooklyn store as well ,many, many moons ago…

Uncle Moe's Salsa Bar

WIZARD’S SCORE: 6.5

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

 

JULIO’S MEXICAN GRILL (7.75) CLOSED FOR BUSINESS

Posted in Hancock Park, Miricle Mile by burritowizard on June 17, 2009

Julio's Exterior

CLOSED!!!!! CLOSED!!!!! CLOSED!!!!!

5174 Wilshire Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90036

(323) 931-5868

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

Garden Burrito $5.90 after tax

Julio’s sub rosa storefront near the corner of Wilshire and La Brea is known only to a few, which may be the side effect of locating inside strip mall real estate.  Centralized location near LACMA,  Julio’s is a sleeper burrito shop with a great vegetarian menu.

Originally opened sometime around 1994, the current ownership took over about 8 years ago keeping all the original recipes, decor, and Carlos the inventor of the Atomic salsa (an alien looking salsa that’s Balls to the Walls hot).

Julio's Salsa

(ABOVE TOP LEFT: ATOMIC; TOP RIGHT: MEDIUM NEGRO; BOTTOM LEFT: HOT SRIRACHA; BOTTOM RIGHT MILD TOMATILLO)

Three types of vegetarian burritos: (1) Standard: beans, rice, cheese, guacamole, and pico de gallo; (2) Garden: zucchini, potato, carrot, broccoli, rice, cheese and guacamole; (3) Fajita style.  Take your pick, but the Garden Burrito is unique and has a synergy with the salsas that the other two don’t.

Julio's Burrito

(ABOVE VEGETARIAN BURRITO)

Julio's Garden Burrito

(ABOVE GARDEN BURRITO)

Value: very good for the area

WIZARD’S SCORE: 7.75