Can Mexican food be better than sex?

Originally @ Stanford Daily

Given that it is now officially Dead Week, and most people reading this newspaper are struggling frantically to reconcile the demands of their classes with their procrastination, some light reading is in order. Discarding the more cerebral topics of moral philosophy and social psychology for some culinary advice is the best way to accomplish this. Specifically: burritos.

The nice part of being a columnist is that I can write exclusively about my personal life and pretend people care or I can make attempts to indoctrinate students to my political beliefs through 750-word snippets, like some columnists. I could depart from the normal litany of cynical armchair reflection to write a poetic ode to the United States of America. Or I could use my writing to pen an incendiary commentary about blowjobs and male domination in an effort to extrapolate my personal experience onto an entire gender. Instead, I’ll use this space to help out other burrito fanatics.

I am from the East Coast. Accordingly, I like boat shoes/shorts dotted with lobsters, old money elitism and Massachusetts Democrats Republicans. One West Coast import I allowed into my cozy mid-Atlantic sphere, however, was Chipotle. As such, I was astonished to arrive at Stanford and meet a local named Danny Zuckerman who passionately hated Chipotle. With his help, I went on a whirlwind tour of all the Mexican outlets the immediate area had to offer (on the ASSU’s dollar, too – so that’s where your Special Fees are going). He and I now hope to give you a survival guide to locating good burritos around Stanford.

Danny lists four aspects to consider in a Mexican restaurant: “price, proximity, authenticity, atmosphere.” In a burrito: “the ingredients’ temperature, whether they are mixed or clumped, quality of meat, variety of salsas…” Also, Danny’s own criteria: is the last bite the best? “It should be because all of the sauces from the meat, salsa, guacamole, sour cream and beans should sink down to the bottom [...] so the last bite should have everything plus the extra juices that make a burrito taste good in the first place.” Now onto the spots…

The Best On-Campus Burrito Award: The only thing I like more than cheap Mexican labor and cheap Mexican vacation destinations is cheap Mexican food, and it doesn’t come any cheaper than Jimmy V’s, which has burrito day every Thursday for $5. Added bonus: ask them to grill your tortilla.

Best Convenience Burritos Award (a quick drive): Taqueria El Grullense on El Camino Real. A “truly authentic” restaurant with a sister (or hermana, as they say in Mexican) taqueria in Redwood City listed among the top 20 burrito joints in the Bay Area. Frequented by possible gang members, so possibly not the safest eatery. Great salsa bar, though. A close runner-up: Sancho’s, a brand new outlet in downtown Palo Alto, with the easiest good burritos to get to. Also, delicious fish tacos.

Best Local Sit-Down Award: Sometimes eating good burritos just can’t be accomplished while standing. Celia’s is a great alternative for those who like to sit down for their food. A good bar, great menu and authenticity all add to the experience. So whether you’re looking for a good place to have a sit-in to protest a janitor’s firing, or you just can’t rise to the occasion, try Celia’s.

Best Burritos Around (Danny’s vote): Karlita’s on Woodside Road. The biggest, best stuffed and definitely sloppiest burrito you’ll ever have. Don’t make plans for the night afterward unless they include a restroom. The taqueria at Chavez Supermarket in Redwood City boasts the best meat around (they take out a slab of meat and chop it up right in front of you), huge quesadillas and steamed tortillas. The downside: no free chips and salsa, and also relatively expensive (though, to be fair, this is relative to that taco truck that drives around campus at noon). Finally, Taqueria Los Charros of Castro Street in Mountain View.

Best Burritos Around (my vote): La Costena, a Mexican supermarket and burrito factory conveniently located in Mountain View. You’ll think you died and went to heaven, but then they realized it was not your time, so they sent you to Mexico instead.

Finally, the Worst Burritos Award: shared by the place in Tresidder, The Treehouse, Uno Mas and the worst of the worst: Chipotle. In Danny’s words (as he wants them in his epitaph): “A good burrito does not start with a McDonald’s branding or end with white rice.” Thank you, West Coast, for teaching me that Chipotle is the Ke$ha of burritos.


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