Friday, July 7, 2017

The Great Big Burrito Search

Some of you probably saw my recent Instagram post about digging Mexican food. Yeah, I've been craving it lately. But I'm also on a personal mission to find the best burrito in town.

Before you get too excited, I should clarify that I'm pretty picky about my burritos. I want a bean burrito without cheese. (I like cheese, but not with beans.) I don't label myself vegetarian, but I'm not a big fan of meat, or the spices used on meat at Mexican restaurants. So I'm looking for a bean or vegetable burrito. I like avocados, but only in chocolate banana pudding, so hold the avocado and guacamole. (Plain avocado tastes soapy to me.) Enough criteria? Okay, okay. Moving on to the burritos, here I'll review each burrito's ingredients, tortilla, price, and overall flavor. Then I'll give a star rating. I am a BIG fan of salsa, so restaurants with good salsa get extra points!

1 star: Blah. I wouldn't go here for a burrito again.
2 stars: Okay, but not overly flavorful, or having some off-putting element 
3 stars: Getting there, but lacking some of my favorite flavor components.
4 stars: Yum! I'd go here again.
5 stars: The perfect veggie burrito. (I'm not sure this exists.)

Bean burrito (no cheese) at Garcia's (Prescott Valley, Arizona)

Ingredients: Refried beans inside the tortilla, topped with red enchilada sauce and a side of lettuce and tomato.

Tortilla: Run-of-the-mill food service.

Price: Don't remember, but I thought it was too much.

Flavor: Lacking. I took most of this home to doctor up. After adding chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and more salsa, it was decent.

Overall: 1 star

Bean burrito (no cheese) at Oliva's Mexican Food (Prescott Valley, Arizona)

Ingredients: Refried beans inside the tortilla, with red enchilada sauce on top and a side of lettuce, tomato, and an olive.

Tortilla: Likely traditional food service. Large and soft, but nothing special.

Price: $7.50 for an a la carte burrito

Flavor: Decent when I added salsa.The beans were a bit liquidy, though, and the enchilada sauce was too plentiful.

Overall: 2 stars
Bean burrito (no cheese) at Plaza Bonita (Prescott Valley, Arizona)

Ingredients: Refried beans inside the tortilla, with red enchilada sauce on top. I asked Dad for his pico de gallo, too.

Tortilla: On the small side and tough enough to have come from a store-bought package.

Price: I don't know. Dad paid for this burrito as my birthday dinner.

Flavor: Great!

Overall: 3 stars for the burrito, but knocked down to 2 stars because of poor service. If I ordered this again, I'd order to go.

Vegetarian burrito (no avocado or olives) at Cafe 51 (Ahwatukee, Arizona)

Ingredients: Lettuce, tomatoes, chopped bell peppers, and cilantro, with sides of sour cream and salsa

Tortilla: Not homemade, but extra-large, flaky, and soft

Price: $6.39

Flavor: Excellent, given that this burrito contained no beans. The cilantro balanced perfectly with the veggies.

Overall: 3 stars
Vegetable burrito (no guacamole) at Alfonso's Mexican Food (Prescott Valley, Arizona)

Ingredients: Rice, beans (refried with a few whole pinto beans), green pepper, onion, and pico de gallo).

Tortilla: Definitely homemade, or at least cooked fresh on the grill! Thick and hearty, but a bit crispy in places.

Price: $4.95

Flavor: A little bland, but authentic. The peppers and onions were crisply sauteed, which I appreciated.

Extras: Salsa bar with red and green enchilada sauce and three types of salsa, plus radishes, limes, and pickled carrots and peppers.

Overall: 4 stars

Veggie burrito at Riliberto's (Prescott Valley, Arizona)

Ingredients: Refried beans, rice, lettuce, tomato, and some kind of sauce (possibly avocado based, but I didn't mind it).

Tortilla: HUGE! (I could only eat half of this burrito). Probably food service.

Price: $5.99

Flavor: Excellent! The sauce added good flavor and the balance of fresh lettuce and tomatoes to beans and rice was excellent.

Extras: Salsa bar with red and green salsa, a green sauce, and a creamy red sauce, plus some pickled vegetables. I went back probably five times for more.

Overall: 4 stars

Veggie wrap (no avocado) at Sweet Potato Cafe Restaurant (Prescott, Arizona)

Ingredients: Black beans, tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, and chipotle sauce. This isn't technically a burrito, but it had similar ingredients. 

Tortilla: Factory made, but soft

Price: $7.99

Flavor: Not a traditional bean burrito, but great as a wrap

Extras: Served with excellent sweet potato fries!

Overall: 3 stars as a burrito, 4 stars as a wrap

Veggie burrito at Los Taquitos (Ahwatukee, Arizona) 

Ingredients: Super smooth refried beans and rice (mixed together) with tomatoes, peppers, onions, potatoes, cilantro, and pico de gallo.

Tortilla: Possibly homemade. Soft and yummy where wrapped around the burrito, but a bit hard on the edges.

Flavor: Excellent! I didn't even need to add salsa.

Extras: The red and green sauces pictured were spicy and bitter. Luckily, I only tried them on the end of my burrito, and the burrito itself tasted better without them.

Price: $5.00

Overall: 4 stars

Winner so far? Alfonso's!

Arizona friends, what other burritos do you recommend I try?

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