Tuesday, November 9, 2010

You call that a burrito, Atlanta?

Posted By on Tue, Nov 9, 2010 at 9:27 AM

Where are you, burrito of my dreams?
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  • Where are you, burrito of my dreams?
I'm sorry. I have tried to muster enthusiasm. But the new burrito offerings in Atlanta don't particularly raise our stature as a burrito-making city in my mind.
I love a good burrito. Yes, I lived in San Francisco's Mission district, as well as Oakland, which are basically the burrito capitals of the universe. Yes, I'm spoiled, and a snob. No, I couldn't find a decent burrito in New York when I lived there either. But I have found good burritos outside of California. I know they exist. One of the best burritos in the country as far as I'm concerned can be found in Carrboro, N.C. at a place called Carrburitos.
In Atlanta, I've never found a burrito I loved. So I was excited when two new spots sprang up offering burrito hope. The first is awesome in part because of its pioneer spirit: Hector Santiago, chef of Pura Vida, has set up a burrito stand on weekends in the parking lot across the street from his restaurant. Drive by at noon on Saturday and see folks sprawled out, sitting on curbs and seats, chowing on Hector's burritos. I went by last weekend and tried one. It was tasty; stewed chicken wrapped in a grilled tortilla with spicy sauce and a lettuce/radish mix. The only problem is....that's not a burrito! It's more like a big taco. Which is fine. But...no beans, no cheese, no rice...I'm sure somewhere in the world that's what they call a burrito, and I'm not dogging Hector's efforts - it's great he's doing what he's doing. But to me, what he's doing in no way fills the emotional void caused in my life by the lack of burritos.
The other newcomer to the burrito scene is Bell Street Burritos in the Sweet Auburn Curb Market. This is an exercise in nostalgia for the defunct Tortillas, a restaurant I never ate at. The idea is to perfectly recreate the Tortillas burrito. According to everyone I've talked to who've tasted Bell Street's version and remembers Tortillas, the imitation is pretty accurate. To me, the burritos at Bell Street are...fine. They have the requisite smoosh and glop. But honestly they seemed a little bland. I added salsa and cilantro to my chicken burrito, but I couldn't really taste them, nor could I taste much seasoning in the beans or chicken. I know the green chili burrito is the signature, but dammit, I want a decent chicken burrito.
Anyone care to point me in the direction of a great Atlanta burrito? Because if Chipotle is as good as we get, then friends that's a problem. Humph.

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