|Can't we all just get along?|
The Burrito Bar's take on Mexican food is very similar to Guzman Y Gomez; informal dining, inexpensive food, and a focus on burritos. They also both have a condiment station and a pretty simple menu with dishes that use lighter, fresher ingredients in the 'Baja' style. This is a bit different to Rosa Mexicano over the road, where it's more of a formal dining experience and the dishes are a bit closer to 'traditional' Mexican.
I wanted to try a few things to get a feel for the place, so I chose a small burrito with chipotle pork filling, some corn on the cob, and a serve of Mexican fries. After placing my order at the counter, I took my number and took a seat at an empty table. The decor is very bright and colourful, with chairs and stools painted bright green and yellow. The walls are decorated with enormous murals of skulls, faces and flowers in an effort, I would guess, to evoke a Mexican 'Day of the Dead' feel.
My friend and I had been seated only about 5 minutes and were in the middle of deciding whether to go get some beers from the bottleshop next door when our food suddenly arrived. But not on plates. As I discovered, all dishes are served on glossy cardboard trays and black plastic containers that immediately made me think of American truck stop cafes. I'm sure that helps with the washing up at the end of the night, and it certainly adds to the informal dining feel, but it means presentation is pretty poor. Still, it smelled amazing, so I quickly got down to the business of unwrapping my burrito.
I was pleasantly surprised by the burrito. It was stuffed full of rice, salad, guacamole and the chipotle pork. The pork was very tasty with a spicy kick to it, and was well balanced with the freshness of the salad and the texture of the rice.
The corn looked rather unappealing on the tray, and turned out to be unappealing on the tongue too. It was just two cobs of corn covered in sour cream and chilli powder/paprika. The corn was crunchy and well cooked, but it certainly wasn't grilled (which is what I was expecting).
The Mexican fries weren't so great either. They tasted like home oven-baked chips, rather than crispy, crunchy hot chips pulled straight from a deep-fryer. The seasoning had a nice little chilli hit, but there was an awful lot of it. I guess that's what makes them Mexican.
Overall, it was a fairly average experience. The burrito was great, but not as good as the chipotle pork burrito I had at Guzman Y Gomez. Somehow, the guys at GYG just manage to fit more into their burritos and still manage to keep it all together with some excellent tortilla-wrapping techniques. The corn was lacklustre, the chips even more so, and the cardboard trays don't do anything to make the food look more exciting. But having said that, the prices are good (most dishes around the $10 - $13 mark) and the service was very quick and friendly. I'll definitely go back to try some of the other dishes, but the lasting impression of the food I had is that it's probably best enjoyed after a long session of beers when you're not worried about complex flavours or how the food looks on a plate (or tray).