I have taken it upon myself to find the best burrito in the Nati. My only rule was that it had to be from a burrito joint; not just a restaurant that has burritos. The burrito places being ranked are: Burrito Joe’s, Chipotle, Currito, Habanero’s, Javier’s, and Qdoba. There are probably other burrito places around town that I did not get to. Send me the names and I will go there and place it appropriately. Without further ado, from Worst to First:
6. Qdoba–Someone had to finish last, and Qdoba gladly accepted the assignment. Qdoba is very similar in form and style to Chipotle, only the quality of their ingredients and the flavors of their salsas are much worse. If you really want to eat a burrito, and Qdoba is the only burrito around, I guess you should get it.
5. Burrito Joe’s–OK. I did not eat at Burrito Joe’s. So here is a guest rater, The Wife! To be fair, I’ve only been to Burrito Joe’s once, but for me, once was enough. I had the Buffalo Chicken burrito. The ingredients weren’t fresh, the chicken was over-sauced, and the tortilla was rubbery.
4. Javier’s–Javier’s reminded me of being back in Philly and ordering a cheesesteak at Pat’s. I was unfamiliar with the menu, so I wanted to ask questions, but they kept demanding to know what I wanted, so I just started yelling out ingredients and then they gave me a burrito. I do not blame the Javier’s people for this; I love ‘the no soup for you’ mentality. I simply choked. Not liking the food, however, is on Javier’s. I ordered a chicken burrito. It did not have rice and beans in it, which is strange for me, but did have cheese, hot salsa, and some veggies. The chicken was not seasoned, the salsa was hot, but not terribly intricate, and worst of all the burrito was put together in such a way that there were hot and cold (temperature) pockets. I could not get a bite that had both; it was either hot or cold, and I really dislike bites of cold burrito. I will not be going back, though I did read something about a liquor license…
3. Habanero’s–It was a tough call between numbers two and three. I prefer to go to and eat at Habanero’s as compared to the joint I ultimately put in second place. The reasons for this are I like the Gaslight and the laid-back atmosphere, and a few other reasons I will discuss in a moment. But if we are just talking burritos, Habanero’s is so wildly inconsistent that I could not give it the nod. There salsas are never quite the same, especially the hot salsa, which I really like (and is really hot–I am guessing they use habaneros) when it is made well. The same is true with their various meat options. When they are good, they are good, never seasoned enough, but fine. All too often, however, the meat is overdone and almost inedible dry. Even the beans have at times been underdone. Still, this is the first of the list that I will actually go to again.
2. Chipotle–The wife was pulling for this at number one, but I could not do it. I like my number one much more than Chipotle, though judging by the lines at both places, I am completely alone in this. In my mind it is the Starbucks effect. Sorry to all those lovers out there, but Starbucks is awful, awful, awful coffee. A whole generation of coffee drinkers don’t know any better because Starbucks is the most accessible brand. I don’t care if people drink swill (I have a special place in my heart for diner brew. It always has a slight hint of dish soap.) they should just know it. Now, I am not picking on Chipotle or my wife. Chipotle offers much better burritos than Starbucks does coffee, but it is not nearly as good as it giant crowds. I actually lament that my favorite place will soon fall victim to Chipotle.
The reason I did put Chipotle at number two is because it is wildly consistent, which is generally the case with better chains. The meats are always cooked well, the salsas are good (I really like the flavors in their hot sauce; not too hot, good depth), and their ingredients are always fresh. My one complaint, and this is a personal taste matter, but I am not a huge fan of their cilantro rice. This is the one place where I do find Chipotle inconsistent. Sometimes there is a ton of cilantro, which can overpower the rest of the burrito. Other times, there is too little, which causes the cilantro to get lost in with all the rest of the ingredients.
1. Currito (formerly Bo Loco; soon to be: closed)–I love Currito. Their theme is world burritos. You can get your classic ‘Mexican’ (American) burrito, but you can also get burritos with flavors from all around the world or combine regions to your liking. I have not tried all of Currito’s regional flairs, so there may be some flavors they miss on, but I like all of the ones I have tried. The reason Currito is the best, though, goes beyond its worldly nature. The roots, the basics of a burrito are all done consistently well and with a little more variety than usual, allowing for somewhat healthier options. Here is my regular: whole wheat tortilla–never rubbery, brown rice–never overdone (you can also get plain white rice and cilantro white rice), black beans–in a slight, nice sauce (pintos also available), chicken–seasoned and never overdone (regular meats, meat substitutes, and veggies also available), cheese, sour cream, and buffalo sauce (I love buffalo sauce). Put it all together and it is my favorite burrito in town. Seriously, though, there is never more than two people in their so if you want to try it, you better go soon.
Best burrito place to get a cookie: Habanero’s–Habanero’s chocolate chip cookies are great. Always moist, sugary, a bit of butter, big chocolate chunks. They are my favorite, non-homemade, cookies. Honorable Mention: Currito’s chocolate chip cookies. Not nearly as good as Habanero’s, but it is a chocolate chip cookie.
Best burrito place to get a drink: Again, Habanero’s–They always have a handful of good microbrews on tap and will blend you up a decent liquor-driven smoothie.
Let me know what burrito places I am missing out on and I will add it to the great (and mediocre) burrito challenge!