Thursday, January 21, 2016

Rosita's Place

I found myself trapped on 82nd Avenue, again. In need of some major burrito therapy, I figured if I saw a taqueria, I'd go for it.  As fate would have it, wedged between Papa Murphy's and KFC there's a parking lot with a few food carts, one being Rosita's. This was just North of Powell Blvd. I couldn't figure out where to park, so I circled around and got stuck in a huge strip mall parking maze... but I was eventually able to dig my way out. I'm pretty sure you can just turn right in and park next to the carts if you want, I was just being awkward.

The owners were super friendly and welcoming, and the pictures on the menu were tasty looking. I noticed carnitas was MIA though.

Asada Burrito

Price: $5.50

Ingredients: Steak, rice, beans, fresh salsa, cheese, sour cream

Sides: Green and Habanero salsa

Size: Filling

I opted to take this puppy home, as the weather wasn't the best and I just wanted to eat in peace. 

Upon initial unwrapping, this burrito looked quite appealing. It had that grilled and sealed tortilla wrapping that always adds such a lovely texture and prevents soggy sadness. It's also an indication that whoever made it actually cares, and wasn't rushed into haphazardly throwing ingredients together.

I enjoyed chowing down on this guy. The tortilla had a saltiness that tickled my tongue, and ingredients were nicely dispersed. The steak was tasty, though a couple bites were a little sinewy. There was a bit too much rice- I would have loved more beans instead. It had the perfect amount of sour cream, but more cheese was in order! The fresh salsa was a nice touch. It did what it needed to do, but it didn't blow me away.

The Rating:

3.5 out of 5

Would I go here again? 

Yes, I'd like to try some other things, like the fish tacos (but that's not a burrito).

Friday, January 8, 2016

La Morenita

La Morenita is one of the many mexican food options along Hawthorne Blvd. It's a food cart at 32nd. Almost 4 years ago, my first burrito review was from Neza, which sits just a block up the street. Who knows if that review is still accurate. 4 years... where has my life gone?  My memories are shaped by whichever beans I happened to be eating at the time, my emotions tamed by that belly-full-o-love. Anxieties melt, like cheese atop a heaping pile of sizzling beef, or pork. Some people have God or animal spirit guides, some people pop pills or run marathons... I have burritos.

The Morenita Burrito

Price: $7.00

Ingredients: Steak, chile relleno, beans, cheese, lettuce, pico, guacamole

Sides: Red and green salsa, chips, lime wedge

Size: Large

What an elegant presentation, like a green checkered angel- fallen to earth. Or perhaps a bird on the wing, soaring high above that which the human brain can fathom.

 ...ok ok, it's just a burrito, sorry.

There were cheaper options on the menu, but I can never pass up steak and chile relleno together in one being, as you may well know.

My cheeks warm as I gently inhale, chewing each bite contemplatively and wholly. I let the flavors marinate on my tongue, as steam radiates up and out into the cool January air. Seesawing between splashes of spicy red sauce and soothing green, I tease my brain with simple pleasures. The pepper is stuffed with soft creamy cheese and has a nice crisp casing. The cooling pico and lettuce add a fresh crunch. Morsels of steak are finely chopped and offer the perfect amount of meaty chewy goodness. While the textures balanced precisely midway through, I felt ingredient dispersion was a bit off- too much lettuce at first, then all meat at the end. I didn't pick up on much guacamole, and it could use a bit more beany cheesiness. Something about it felt delicate, as though a lot of thought and love went into its creation.

The Rating:

3.8 out of 5

A great option if you're walking down Hawthorne. I would choose this a million times over cha cha blah.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

A look back at 2015

It looks like I reviewed 10 new burritos in 2015. Not bad, but not great! How many burritos did I actually consume all together though? Only the lord knows... and honey, that's my personal business with him. J/k, let's think about this... I usually go out for a burrito once a week, maybe twice! Plus there's the breakfast burritos that I make on weekends sometimes. Here's another dirty little secret folks: sometimes for a snack I will eat one of those little frozen "El Monterey" bean and cheese burritos. Don't judge me! It's just you know, some people will eat an apple or some cashews for a snack... but I take one of those little frozen guys and cover him with cheese and hot sauce and dip him in sour cream. It's a perfectly fine, healthy snack.

So, let's see... a conservative estimate for number of burritos I ate this year would probably be- 100.

As far as new burrito reviews go, it was a rather average experience this year. I rated 7 of my burritos at or below 3 stars. My top rated burrito this year was the carnitas from Gonzalez Taqueria. I am also extremely happy about the Portland Mercado coming into existence, though they aren't just about burritos.

I am looking forward to another year of burrito hunting, and I will continue to branch out! I also want to return to some of my favorites to see if they are staying up to par. Thank you to everyone who reads this ridiculously delicious blog!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Taqueria Villanueva

This festive food cart is located on SW 3rd and Oak. We stopped by before going to see the symphony at the Schnitz. Classy, right? They were open on a Sunday, though according to yelp, they are usually closed Sundays. It looks like they are open 10-4pm M-Th and on Friday and Saturday they are open until 3am. Perfect for a post clubbing preemptive hangover cure? I apologize for the absolutely horrid cell phone pictures. I was not prepared for this!

The Chile Relleno Burrito

Price: $6.00

Ingredients: Chile Relleno, beans, rice, pico, lettuce, sour cream, guacamole, cheese

Sides: Red and Green Sauce

Size: Filling

Again, I apologize for the cell phone pictures. I enjoyed this burrito, even after standing in the cold and eating it in the car- it was pretty satisfying. Ingredient dispersion needs improvement. At first I had some really scrumptious bites of cheesy steamy relleno and beans, then towards the middle I got into a lettuce jungle. This burrito had a creamy quality, a smoothness about it- with little hints of spice interspersed. A textural aspect was absent- some nice morsels of meat would have done it, but that's my fault for picking the meatless burrito! Anyway, it was good while sober and would probably make a really nice after hours snack.

The review

3 out of 5 stars.

Would I go here again? Probably, I'd like to give a meatier option a try.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Fernando's Alegria

Click to view large
I returned to my most favorite food cart pod in Portland, my own special Disneyland- The Mercado. It's located on SE Foster and 72nd. As I parked across from this utopic wonderland of delight, the smell of peppers and spice and everything nice permeated into my brain, making me viciously salivate like a monster! I ravaged my way over to the burrito cart, Fernando's Alegria. Alegria means happiness or joy, so let's see if they brought me such feelings of contentment...

Fernando's Special Burrito

Price: $8

Ingredients: Steak, grilled onions, jalapenos, tomato, rice, beans, sour cream, cheese

Sides: Red and green sauce

Size: Monster!

I went on a rant a while ago about 8 dollar burritos. It's tough to rationalize what on earth makes a burrito worth 8 bucks. Some places in town use words like "made from scratch," or "artisanal" to make their burritos sound fancy and worthy of the 8 dollar price tag. Other spots have hip atmospheres with apathetic staff, and for some reason this automatically makes the price higher. Fernando's doesn't do any of these things. They just serve up an honest, hearty, gargantuan burrito. Nearly as wide as it is tall, it took at least 3 bites to make it across one row of this beast. 

The tortilla was kissed with a crispness, which I usually like, but this one cracked and crumbled a lot. The ingredients united playfully on my palate, with the morsels of smoky steak twirling around with the pops of perfectly cooked pinto beans. The grilled onion had an enticing sweet crunch, while the tomatoes added a refreshing splash of acidity. The flavors balanced well, but I would have liked more punch from the jalapenos. I may look like a gringa on the outside, but I can take heat with the best of them. The cheddar cheese was melted against one side of the tortilla, while it should have been more central. Though I usually complain about burritos being too dry, this guy was too juicy. The sour cream liquefied and became muddled with the other ingredients, loosing it's calming creamy coolness. The green salsa tasted like how I would imagine licking the back of an iguana would taste- green, grassy, herbaceous, psychedelic! This dude was dense, and if it did indeed contain rice, I didn't even notice. It could easily be made into 2 meals for the average person. I however, devoured it whole in about 5 seconds with my huge, fat, monstrous mouth.

The Rating:

3.5 out of 5

Would I go here again?

Oh, I'll be back at the Mercado. I have more carts to try!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Sanchez Taqueria y Panaderia

Venturing beyond the safe, reassuring walls of Portland, further and further Southwest we went; through an endless desolate land of strip malls and cul-de-sacs, ranch homes and parking lots... Until finally we spotted the bright red and green sign on the left side of 99W, with a happy taco mascot welcoming us to this strange, yet homey establishment.

The atmosphere reminded me of some of the spots I visited in La Paz, Baja California Sur. Tiled floors, bright walls, simple tables and chairs. All that was missing was a large central condiment bar of every imaginable salsa and pickled pepper, crema, etc... (Oh man, do I miss Baja).

Carnitas Burrito

Price: $6.95

Ingredients: Pork, rice, beans, onion, cilantro, cabbage

Sides: Red and Green Salsa

Size: Colossal! 

We sat expectantly as a stream of saucy steamy plates of food flowed past us to other eager patrons. Our hunger growing by the second. Then, our mammoth burrito babies finally arrived. So beautiful.

Have you ever received a gift, so exquisitely wrapped, that you were afraid to open it? The tortilla was so warm and light and fresh, it left a fairy dusting on my fingertips that said it was made that morning. 

Have you ever opened that gift, only to find something mediocre inside? You smiled and said "thank you," even though you were disappointed, didn't you? Well, I wasn't blown away by the inside of this guy. It was ok, but I want more pizzazz! Though the carnitas had a nice texture, the flavor was weak and it lacked juiciness. There was too much rice and not enough beans. It needed some cheese, maybe some crema. Haters gonna hate, but I need cheese!!! The salsas were delicious, but I had to rely on them for the added flavor. I think this was a typical case of an establishment having some tasty items, with the burritos being a safety net for the faint of heart. I wish I would have gotten one of the enormous plates of steamy food, or maybe a variety of tacos instead. I had such high hopes, but this guy fell flat. Gimme the greasy spice, gimme the heat! Gimme some fucking cheese!

Thank you.

The Rating:

2.8 out of 5 stars

I hope I just ordered the wrong thing...

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Super Burrito Express

I was driving in circles around the outer fringes hunting for burritos today, and I passed 3 abandoned taquerias before deciding just to go here. It's in Milwaukie, next to the Safeway at SE 42nd and King Road. Milwaukie... what can I say about this... town? It's truly weird. They don't have to try to be weird, it just flows through their veins! It's as though the entire place exists inside of an alternate universe where Walmart is the overlord.

The looks of Super Burrito Express are a turn off. It's a local joint, but the facade screams out corporate fast food hole, only grimier.

The Super Burrito

Price: $6.80

Ingredients: Steak picado (cooked with tomato, onion, cilantro), chile relleno, refried beans, avocado sauce

Sides: Red and green sauces, pickled jalapeno and carrots

Size: Big but not toooooo big

My feelings for this one are conflicted. The steak picado was rich and savory, with the tomatoey oniony peppery sauce adding a comforting allure, followed by a wave of spicy gusto. The texture, though, was a bit off. Some slices were too fatty, spawning an unappealing chewiness, while others weren't chopped small enough, making it difficult to get that perfect mouthful. Ingredient dispersion was out of balance, with the first 5 bites or so being almost all bean. The relleno's cheese was not melty enough and had a squeaky texture. There was no rice or lettuce taking up space (yay!), but that also made it very heavy in the belly. I couldn't twist at the waist after finishing up, and I kind of wobbled out to my car, uncertain about who I was or where I was or what I was. I think I sprouted an extra roll of fat above my love handle. Each day I get closer to becoming a circle person with stick arms and legs!

The Rating

2.2 outta 5 stars

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