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Burrito Bros. Taco Co.


jamiemaw
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Burrito Bros. Taco Co.

2209 West 1st Avenue

604-736-8222

Burrito Bros.

Kitsilano

I’d been aquiver recently, thinking that a quality taco emporium might be moving into the neighbourhood. Gord Martin hasn’t delivered on the fish tacos promise at Go Fish!, and frequent trips to Mexico remind me just how much I miss them. In Manzanillo, the taqueria stand at the end of our dusty road turns out handsome breakfast tortillas of pulled pork and hot sauce, served with a pint of fresh grapefruit juice, for one American dollar.

Key to quality burritos and tacos is the quality of the tortilla itself. In Mexico, one person feeds hot-off-the-press tortillas to the person stuffing them—with pork, fish, beef or chicken. They are thin and pliant without being spongy.

Unfortunately, the tortillas at Burrito Bros. are a letdown—their taste and texture being identical to the supermarket versions churned out by large-scale manufacturers and bereft of that fresh, slightly toasty corn taste that's a hallmark of Mexican cuisine.

We ordered an early afternoon ‘Taco Trio’ ($6.99), with sides of sour cream (again, supermarket quality only, and heavily over-salted guacamole--$.99 each). With a Coke, the tab, including taxes, was $12.60.

The Taco Trio (soft version) arrived 14 minutes after we placed our order—too long in my opinion. They comprised ‘Mexi Beef’ (spiced ground beef), ‘Fajita Steak’ (chopped sirloin with vegetables) and ‘Baja Fish’ (small pieces of breaded cod with salsa crema).

The fish and steak versions were passable, slightly elevated with the routine hot sauces provided—Tabasco, Frank’s Red Hot and Tapatío picante. Missed opportunity there—why not provide some more interesting smoked chipotle versions—or housemade condiments? The ground beef version—a mush of angrily-spiced but characterless meat, was a write-off.

The menu also features burritos, burrito bowls (an oxymoron waiting to happen), and ‘Quesa-Dealios’—jack cheese, jalapenos, salsa and sour cream.

There’s a short Mexican beer list that numbers the usual victims and glasses of 1516 are available for $4.70; margaritas are $4.91, or $6.40 for a double. Breakfast burritos are $6.99, but beware the bait-and-switch pricing; sides such as the aforementioned guac and sour cream are additional. The salsa verde was average, and, although fresh tasting, a trifle mild for our taste.

Burrito Bros. occupies a popular corner (adjacent to Adesso) near 1st and Yew in beautiful downtown Kitsilano, where walk-in traffic is a necessity because parking is tricky, especially at this time of the year. Complimentary sombreros are available to sun-challenged patio patrons.

There are about 30 seats inside and half a dozen tables on the patio. The restaurant appears to have been decorated—from menu boards to faux-Mexican movie posters—entirely by Chalkstar.com.

And perhaps that summarizes my disappointment with this restaurant —the closer you get the less autentico it gets--it’s as trite as a lime in a bottle of breakfast beer and equally as false. It has every appearance of a small-footprint concept-restaurant chain in waiting but doesn't achieve the ‘do one thing very well’ that other practitioners execute upon; it certainly didn’t revive my latent love for quality Mexican cooking, or even its Tex-Mex equivalent.

How to improve?

1. Make regulation 6.5” tortillas by hand, in-house with fresh maze flour. Tortilla presses cost next to nothing. Make the tortilla station an eye-contact point and brand it.

2. Drill down on the fillings. Brown the ground beef before spicing.

3. Up the ante on the fillings—they seemed frugally portion-controlled to the extreme; Mexican taquerias are famously ‘free-pour’.

4. Add some interesting condiments, such as Dan-T’s smoky chipotle hot sauces, or create some interesting housemade condiments. Get some quality sour cream such as Avalon or Blackwell Dairies.

5. Ask the chef to taste his own cooking—the guacamole, otherwise well-made, could melt snow.

6. Get some spoons to convey the sides to the tacos—Burrito Bros. only offered knives and forks.

7. Hasten the food delivery time by at least 5 minutes. When we were there the restaurant was busy but hardly slammed and there was an abundance of service staff dawdling near the pass.

8. Add a quality, cabbagey cole slaw to the menu.

9. Serve soft drinks in a glass, with ice and lime.

10. Hang some garlands of smoked dried peppers over the pass; use them in the cooking.

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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Rumour has it that there will be another little Mexican Place opening soon on Davie Street so, James, all is not lost. Perhaps these chaps will take your advice to heart and perhaps do it just that much better.

If all else fails, we could open our own little taco stand. With you taking care of the food, and me taking care of the marketing and promotion ................................perfection !! :laugh:

Neil Wyles

Hamilton Street Grill

www.hamiltonstreetgrill.com

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We had Burrito brothers (to go) this weekend, and our experience was just about the same as yours - though I was happy with the fish tacos and the salsas (verde and traditional) that came with it.

The guac was oversalted by half and the ground beef was, as you say, angry, so I will stay away from both next time. We didn't eat in, so I can't comment on the atmosphere.

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Last Thursday a friend with my wife and I tried Burrito Bros. I think Jamie's breakdown is very accurate of the meal and service we had there as well. My wife ordered the Burrito bowl with Steak and was disappointed with only a few bits of meat in this Taco Salad. My friend and I both had the Beef burrito's. Overall impressions we're that they we're alright but a bit bland. I found myself reaching for the Hot Sauce with each bite.

A pet peeve of mine with Mexican restaurants is when they don't just serve Chips and Salsa, but instead you have to pay for them. I think they charged $2.99 for them. Obviously it's not the $ but it's the fact that I think it's just annoying to pay for something that is so inexpensive and IMO should just accompany the dish.

All in all even though one of my favourite foods is Mexican, I don't think we'll be back.

I think if someone in this town actually could make a good Burrito / Taco meal at a decent price point they would make a killing. Because I know all of my Mexican food loving friends are seriously left wanting.

The closest, pretty good place we found is Banano's on Pacific.

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I went there today and while I was not very impressed, there is a lot of potential here.

First, I don't think we can ever expect homemade tortillas here and to do so sets expectations so high that it is no surprise that you would be disappointed. Even the great burrito places I've been to in LA and San Diego rarely use homemade tortillas. This is not a mexican place, but a tex-mex joint.

I had the chicken burrito and the meat was well seasoned, although there was no hint of the chipotle marinade they supposedly used. I do agree that it was quite understuffed. There was plenty of meat, but not enough of the other fillers, like rice and beans. Rice and beans are incredibly cheap, so it's odd that they don't put a little more in. I don't like leaving a burrito shop hungry.

There was a bit of a wait, but that's not surprising in a new restaurant. The staff was incredibly nice and even offered complimentary chips and salsa to make up for our wait.

It wouldn't be hard to make this into a decent burrito place.

I wanna say something. I'm gonna put it out there; if you like it, you can take it, if you don't, send it right back. I want to be on you.

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