burrito (boo re'to) n. "a Mexican dish consisting of a flour tortilla wrapped around a filling of meat, cheese, fried beans, etc.
First, there was the exploitation of the bagel. Then, the gross impersonation of New York-style pizza. Now, as we turn to a new century, comes the corruption of the burrito. It was bound to happen sooner or later.
It's true that the concept of the burrito has been in flux for a while. It started with the newly-popular wrap. Wraps, as we all know, are basically fancy, bourgeois burritos; combinations of different gourmet ingredients with a tortilla, or tortilla facsimile, wrapped around them. Rare is a bean and cheese wrap, you might notice. Unless you're talking mung beans and smoked Gouda. But at least the stolen concept for this unique food fad was given a different name.
The same cannot be said for the new Boston Burrito, on North Tejon Street. Formerly the New York Burrito, the location and concept are the same. Different owners. As the menu says, "Same concept, better city." Except for one thing -- Boston is not known for their fabulous burritos. Baked beans, food on a stick, the Bruins, the Celtics, but not burritos. (Or their rich Mexican heritage for that matter.)
Since the restaurant's name migrated north to Beantown a few months back, I've been curious -- if not suspicious -- of the continued burrito theme. The name New York Burrito was suspicious as well, but then, you figure anything is possible in New York. But Boston? Maybe it's just me, but a big ol' green shamrock next to the word burrito is an oxymoron at its finest.
After walking by the giant shamrock for weeks, my curiosity finally got the better of me. What was that saying about curiosity and the cat?
Boston Burrito offers six different types of burritos, on either plain or garlic flavored tortillas. And I use the term burrito loosely. So do they. The menu starts out innocently enough, with the "original burrito" -- a choice of chicken, beef or steak with refried beans, rice, lettuce, tomatoes, green chiles, cheese, salsa, sour cream. Pretty standard stuff. And actually quite tasty.
At most places, the vegetarian burrito is usually pretty innocuous. Here, too, I figured. A meatless version of the above, the only thing that really threw me were the Kalamata olives, little chunks of cauliflower and raw baby carrots. But then again, the term "vegetable medley" is wide open for interpretation.
With the next entry, though, things get a bit obscure. The "teriyaki" burrito is next on the list, which, with just rice, the chicken and teriyaki sauce is not bad. But it gets burrito-ized with a tortilla, sour cream, guacamole, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes. Just say no.
Next up is the "BBQ" burrito. Again, your choice of meats, mixed with rice, coleslaw, pineapple, tomatoes, onions, cheese and barbeque sauce. Wrapped in a tortilla. Huh?
The "Thai chicken with peanut sauce" burrito, while again, not exactly Old World tradition, could stand on its own but for two things: the lettuce and refried beans. But why ask why?
Finally, we come to burrito No. 6. As Dorothy once said to Toto, "We're not in Kansas anymore." She's right; we're at Fenway Park, eating "chili cheese dog" burritos. You almost expect to hear some guy yelling, "Get yer chili cheese dogs 'ere. Fresh and hot, two dawgs, chili, cheese and onions, wrapped in a fresh, hot tortilla."
Each of the above mentioned burritos is huge and only cost $5, which includes tax. So its a deal if you're really hungry. Just leave your traditional burrito thoughts at the door. Think of your Boston Burrito experience as artistic, experimental, filling.
I'm holding out for the corned beef and cabbage burrito. Or a fresh seafood burrito. Now those say Boston. And both seem wrappable. Because remember: Rice, beans, guacamole, sour cream and cheese wrapped in a tortilla does not a burrito make.