Eating Companion (EC) and I are down on Stickney Point Road, waiting for Ladyfriend at Burritos Mexican Grill. Though late-February it feels more like early-May, the sky a very bright blue, winter a distant memory. We’ve been promised epic guacamole and fairly authentic Mexican food, which is all it takes to get EC and me riled up.
Seated inside, the restaurant is all Mexican decorations, beer signs and terra cotta tile, a marker board that promises the “Best guacamole in Sarasota” and a ridiculously adorable kid carrying a basket of chips and salsa towards our table. Whoever gelled his fauxhawk did a fine job. Ladyfriend can barely stand the cuteness.
Our waitress, presumably the child’s mother, is right behind him, ready for our drink orders, but, alas, they don’t have horchata, which is in my world a major problem -- horchata (a creamy, nutmeg-y, cinnamon-y, rice milk concoction, for those unititiated) being about 27 percent of the reason I even enjoy Mexican cuisine. I take a deep breath, order water, then see they have Tecate. It’s barely noon ... don’t judge me. I try to convince EC and Ladyfriend to go for margaritas, if for no other reason than to make me seem less ridiculous drinking this early in the day. They decline and look at me as if to say, “Really?” We also order some guacamole, insisting the little dude bring it out.
Burritos’ menu does seem rather authentic. Pictures accompany the entrees’ descriptions, which is odd considering how un-photogenic, and homogenous-looking Mexican food tends to be. There are shredded pork and chicken tamales in corn husks, stuffed pimientos, a few options for ceviche, some seafood entrees with mango cilantro salsa, and an a la carte taco selection. But the real draw here is, as the name implies, the burritos.
For something like 40 bucks you can take on the Mongo Burrito, an eight-pound beast, or you can sign a waiver and brave the Atomic Burrito, which claims to be the hottest burrito in Florida, clocking in at over a million on the Scoville Scale. There are a number of special burritos, as well, with most of them available “wet” — smothered in cheese and either ranchero or enchilada sauce — a Burritos specialty, and there are regular and one-pound versions.
We’re feeling tame today and order some standards. Ladyfriend has been abstaining from flesh and orders a regular-sized veggie burrito ($5.50), which contains actual vegetables — broccoli, cauliflower, carrots. EC goes for the “Tiajuana (sic) Combo” (a tamale, burrito, and a enchilada, all “wet,” $9.95). I opt for shrimp and steak tacos ($2.45 and $$2.75), as well as the Siesta Burrito, regular-sized ($6.95). Our little man is back with the guacamole, drops it on the table then dashes to the front door to watch a fire truck drive by, lights flashing, sirens blaring.
The guacamole is, indeed, very good, a rather simple take, just avocado, tomatoes, lime, some seasoning and cilantro. Super light and refreshing. The rest of the food shows up in a flash, carried by our watress this time, as there is no way our little dude could carry these plates. Mexican food has some serious heft to it.
Ladyfriend’s veggie burrito is a little strange, chopped broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots not exactly SOP for burritos, but it is quite good. EC’s “Tiajuana combo” is ridiculously large. He digs into it, yelps, actually says, “Whoa! Hot tamale!” He composes himself, stares at the enormous plate of meat and beans and sauce and tortillas in front of him and says “You might hurt. You might be regrettable.”
The “wet”-style is a popular Tex-Mex variation, and Burritos does a good job of it. The sauce is mild, a little smoky, with ample amounts of queso. The shredded chicken and pork are heavily seasoned, almost too seasoned, though the sour cream, as well as the lettuce and pico de gallo tone things down a bit.
The Siesta Burrito is a fairly perfect lunch burrito, easier on the cheese and beans than the other options. The steak tacos turn out to be a little tough and dry, with a ton of cilantro. The shrimp tacos, on the other hand, are perfect. I’m considering ordering more, but there’s just no way. For thirty bones we’ve just inhaled about four pounds of fairly killer, rich food, and we’re out the door.
I’ll be back to try the fish tacos, for sure. It will take some convincing to take on the Mongo; maybe if I bring my own horchata.
BYOH. Now there’s an idea.