The Toronto Burrito Tour: Part 2

I’ve been meaning to write about burritos all week but it looks like the Toronto Star’s food critic beat me to it. She seems to speak very highly of Chipotle Mexican Grill. I was a little surprised since she seems very critical of even the fanciest restaurants and Chipotle only scores a 6.5 out of 10 on the Burritophile scale according to a former co-worker of mine. See link for ratings:

This past weekend was gorgeous outside (well… relative to the winter) so I decided to venture out and try a new burrito place in Kensington market, Mexican Salsas. Kensington market seems to be a haven for great Mexican food with pleasing pupusas from Perolas and tastey tacos from El Trompo.  Mexican Salsas boasts, “That’s right! Just like Being in Mexico”.  All I have to say is that Mexico is delicious!  The narrow restaurant appears to be run by a Mexican family who, for the most part, only speak a little bit of English.  The staff was throwing meat and tortillas on to a flat grill while the veggies and meat were resting in trays behind the counter.  I ordered a carnitas burrito with spicy salsa and everything you can put on it including hot peppers, guacamole, onions, tomatoes, pinto beans, etc.  As soon as they pulled out the tortilla my eyes widened in shock and excitement… IT WAS HUGE!  It was like the girl was waving around a pillow case! (Okay, maybe not that big but definitely one of the biggest tortillas I’ve seen).  They packaged everything together and I sat in the back and ate.

The picture above makes it look like they grill it like Burrito Boyz or Big Fat Burrito.  They only place it on the grill for a few second to seal it so the tortilla has not hint of crunchiness.  In fact, it’s soft, warm and chewy.  Well I should put this out there to start, burritos don’t really photograph well.  I’m flipping through the pictures of burritos I’ve eaten and they don’t look that appealing.  

First off, it was hard to eat since it was so big but that’s a good thing.  The pork meat was very rich in flavor.  All the flavors from the guacamole, veggies and sauces (which they went a little lighter on… I like this since I find by the time I get to the end, the whole thing is a bit of a mess) were all tasty and worked well together.  The spicy peppers and hot salsa added some real kick.  I was sweating a little bit half way through.  Overall, it was simply a really good burrito.  It was simple, tasty and one hell of a bargain.  The burrito was only five bucks… including tax!  I left so full I was in a bit of a food coma afterword.  In terms of satisfaction per dollar, this has got to be one of the best places in the city! 

Another burrito shop in Kensington I had mentioned earlier is Big Fat Burrito.  This has to be one of my favorite burritos in the city.  It’s filling, it’s tasty and I like that they grill the tortilla until it’s a little crispy. 

The meat I found wasn’t as flavorful as Mexican Salsas but their sauces are really good.  This is the steak one.  The one below is pork…I think.

I think the first burrito I had in Toronto was from the institution known as Burrito Boyz.  A group of us wondered in after a night at the bar and I remember thinking to myself, “This is the greatest thing ever!”.  I finally made it back several years later and have to say, it’s still pretty good even without being under the influence.  It’s really saucy but I find the beans to be a little too starchy so I usually opt out of the beans.

Their fish burrito is really good too… probably my favorite one actually.  There have been many nights when I’ve walked up to this place and considered the dual burrito-poutine combo since Smoke’s poutinerie is right upstairs.  It sounds pretty amazing doesn’t it.  I’m sure my doctor is glad to hear I haven’t tried it yet… maybe someday.

The burrito shop I frequent the most is a place in the Grange food court, Mission Burrito.  Apparently they brought their tortilla steamers straight from San Francisco.

I really like this burrito.  The meat is hot and full of flavor.  The veggies taste fresh but are always really cold.  This makes for an interesting experience since half the burrito is a cold while the other side is hot.  The mix of temperatures in my mouth was a little shocking at first but I got over it and have devoured many of these burritos.  I probably frequent this place the most due to it’s close proximity to where I live.  The one problem with this burrito is that it’s a little small. If you order the regular, I find I can fit just a little something more in and am tempted to get a small cheeseburger from the McDonald’s next door.

I tried another steamed tortilla burrito up in Little Italy from a place called Burro Burrito.  Maybe I was just having an off day or perhaps it was the amazing fish sandwich I had before hand, but my taste experience at Burro was a little disappointing.  It had some heat but I remember the meat being a little bland.

The guac was good… but then again guac is always good.  That is one thing that annoys me about some burrito shops, they charge extra for guacamole!  Why?!  It’s just not a burrito without the guac.  

Quesada Mexican Grill has several locations around the city.  I went to the one on Church St. and left feeling a little disappointed.  The veggies, tortilla and sauces were all good but the meat was a little bland.  Again, maybe it was just the day… I did get rained on… for an hour… without an umbrella.  I’ve always enjoyed watching how people react when it begins to rain.  There are those who have brought on umbrella, these people plan ahead and are typically on the ball.  There are those who seek shelter.  Timid, fearful or maybe just smarter than I am.  I’m the type that just keeps walking, almost enjoying it.  Some of my favorite places include my bed, my couch and the shower.  Walking around in the rain always felt like being in the shower, except I can walk around and see more stuff… and I have clothes on… most times. Anyways, I digress.  I tried the Bloor St. location of Quesada and thought it was a lot better.  The meat had more flavor but I thought the sauce was a little bland.  It was still pretty good but I think I prefer the other burrito shops to this one.

One of the worst burrito I’ve had in the city is actually from a place I like to eat at a lot, Tacos El Asador.  Their tacos and empanadas are AMAZING but there burrito was a huge disappoint.  It was small, bland, lacked any sort of kick or outstanding flavor.

I won’t go into  detail about the other items at El Asador. I think I’m saving the taco discussion for another day.

I remember the first time I passed by New York Subway on Queen St. and was surprised to see that the sign read, “Specializing in Gourmet Burritos”.  Hmmm.  I thought it was a sandwich shop.  Well, either one is a win for me so I tried it.  I tried this on one of my food walkabouts so I split a small one with a friend since we had planned on eating at a few other places that afternoon.

The meat was really tasty!  Other than that, there wasn’t much to it.  They don’t have a great varieties of veggies or sauces to choose from but it was still satisfying.  I think I’m going to make another trip back and try the large version.  Hmmm. Just thinking back now I remember the meat being REALLY good.  I’ll have to go back to confirm.

There is a western fast food chain that opened a location right across the street from me, Taco Time.  I have some very fond memories of Taco Time since there was one close to my junior high school.  Ahhh, all those cups of hot sauce I needlessly ate to outdo my friends… kid me was a bit of an idiot and probably had some digestion problems. Anyways, I have to give props to this place for having such a unique and unhealthy burrito on their menu, the crisp meat burrito.  It’s deep fried and filled with only ground beef and cheese… yes it’s as good as it sounds!

There are still many burrito shops left to try.  I recently heard of a place that serves “Chinese” burritos.  What the hell could that be?!  It’s sounds wonderfully interesting.  Until part 3, feliz comiendo!


~ by jlowjlow on March 12, 2010.

One Response to “The Toronto Burrito Tour: Part 2”

  1. Toronto clearly should be on the map, and considered amongst the other great cities for burritos.

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