The Quest: Burritos in NYC

I am a bit of a burrito snob. There I admitted it. But how could I not be growing up in CA? I began my affair with burritos in middle school and when I was a lot less picky. My sister and I would ride our bikes to El Pollo Loco in downtown Los Altos and stuff our faces with burritos, chips and salsa. I am not embarrassed to admit I liked the burritos at El Pollo Loco. I loved how, after the burrito was made they lightly grilled it. It had something I have sought in burritos ever since and not found until moving to NYC (more on that further down). San Francisco is where I really honed my burrito snobbery. For a while, I was having a burrito at least once a week (awww that fast early 20s metabolism!). On more than one occasion, I may have even pulled a burrito out of my purse while I was in a nightclub dancing and mingling with boys. I couldn’t and can’t get enough of them!

We were warned that NYC doesn’t have good Mexican food. But we’ve actually found quite a few places that are very tasty and that we would highly recommend (Antojitos Mexicanas in East Williamsburg and Taqueria San Pedro in Harlem). What we have had a hard time finding are burritos.

The Comparison: Gordo Taqueria, Outer Richmond, San Francisco Los Hermanos, Marina, San Francisco and El Farolito, Mission, San Francisco. Honestly, how could I pick just one place in San Francisco as my favorite burrito?IMG_8560

My Base Order: Regular chicken burrito with pinto beans, rice, cheese, guacamole, sour cream, and hot sauce. (Sometimes at Los Hermanos I will add nacho cheese for a real treat!).

The distinguishing characteristic of all these places are that they are taquerias. They are meant to be walked into, ordered from and taken out again. They all have the various ingredients you could fill your burrito with, laid out behind a plexiglass window.  There are many places in NYC that call themselves taquerias that are not true taquerias. They are large chains, their meat is overcooked and dry, and the ratio of ingredients to tortilla is always off. However, there have been a few gems that stood up to my snobby standards! A couple in particular...

The Winners: Fatty Daddy Taco, South Slope, Brooklyn and La Gringa Taqueria, East Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Again, how could I pick just one!

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My order at Fatty Daddy: Small spicy chicken burrito with no lettuce. I add sour cream and guacamole.

It’s true Fatty Daddy doesn’t have an ingredient bar to order from, but you can order at the counter and modify any of their pre-configured burrito options. Every time I’ve had a burrito here it has been heavenly. The first time I had it I was speechless. I hadn’t realized just how much I was missing burritos until I tasted a Fatty Daddy one. My only regret is that I didn’t discover this place sooner. There were a lot of dark days when my craving for a burrito almost made me pack up and move back to SF.

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My order at La Gringa: grilled chicken with sour cream, pico de gallo, pinto beans, rice, guacamole and plantains (that were eaten separately).

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La Gringa had a limited ingredient bar, but it was just enough! I ordered from the menu and then added a few things like Guac (which was $1.73 extra!). They are known for making their burritos and tacos with plantains so I went ahead and put those in too. They were a tasty treat, but I ended up having to pull them out because they didn’t make it an equal comparison. My favorite part about the La Gringa burrito was that they grilled the tortilla before filling it which gave it that crunch that I have been searching for since my El Pollo Loco days!

After trying these two burritos I knew my quest was complete!

*An honorable mention goes out to L.A. Burrito in Williamsburg. They served up a solid burrito, but it didn’t blow me away like Fatty Daddy or La Gringa. The pros: the ingredients tasted fresh and the meat wasn’t dry. The cons: it was too large to be eaten without a fork and knife, the tortilla got soggy, I didn’t feel like I could customize it and the guacamole was $2.75 extra! While it satisfied my burrito cravings, it wouldn’t be a burrito I would go out of my way to get.

Our Voyages: A Birthday Trip to Mexico!

IMG_0061Sometimes our travels are for the benefit of both of us (see our Road Trip and Thailand Trip) and sometimes they are strictly for the benefit of one of us (compromise!). Cabo was one of the latter since we were there to celebrate my 30th birthday, but it was also a vacation for Rob, my family and friends.Lodging

We rented two houses from Tooker Properties in San Jose del Cabo. My goal for the trip was to never have to leave the house and these two houses really allowed me to do just that. They were large, had a pool and hot tub, outdoor grill and awesome kitchens and entertaining spaces. The houses and our hosts are what really made this a relaxing trip where we could forget all our worries!

The Tooker Villa

The Tooker Casa

Transportation

We flew in from LA (we made a brief pit stop to celebrate my cousin’s 30th birthday the weekend before) and the flight was easy. Getting through customs was another story. We stood in line, winding our way to the front with all the spring breakers and retirees for an hour and a half. Luckily I knew there was sunshine, margaritas and guacamole waiting for me on the other side so the wait wasn’t unbearable.

To get to the houses we grabbed a cab from the airport. We’d been warned by our hosts, and had previous experience with the taxi cabs soliciting us coming out of the airport, so we were ready to smile politely and say no thank you to their calls. We made our way through customs and past baggage claim to the taxi counter. It has a large sign above it that reads “Taxi” so you can’t miss it! You simply walk up to them, tell them where you want to go and how many people are in your party and they tell you how much it will be and who your driver is. Then you pay and are on your way! Airport Tip--If you need WiFi at the airport, the bars outside have access. We bought beers, chips and guacamole from one, and they gave us the WiFi info. I am willing to bet, however, that they will give the password without having to purchase anything. This was helpful for us as we tried to coordinate with others in our party who were arriving on a different flight and had been delayed. Activities

Like I mentioned, my goal for this trip was to do a whole lot of nothing and that is pretty much what I did. Rob lead a few friends on a walk to the local Mega Store a couple of times, we took walks down to the beach, and a few people went for a walk around the neighborhood where they stumbled upon feral cat families and questioning pugs. But mostly we lounged by the pool, ate and drank. It was exactly the vacation I had been waiting for.

Beach walk!

Feral Cat Family

Guard Pug

Highlights

I really enjoyed this trip as a whole but there were some moments that stick out in my head as my favorites.

  • My Birthday! Of course, celebrating my birthday is one of the biggest highlights.
  • My Friends and Family!  It also meant a lot to me to celebrate my birthday with my friends and family on a dream vacation.
  • Total Relaxation! Zoning out for a week and falling into a total rhythm of relaxation was a huge win.

    Relaxed.

  • Beachside Hangout! We also spent a few afternoons at a beachside restaurant called Zippers. The service was fantastic and the food and drinks were always exactly what we needed when we came in. It was a great spot to end a day at the beach or to escape from the impending bad weather.

And finally, my biggest highlight…

  • Each and Every Sunrise! Each morning the sun came in through our window and after day one, I made it my mission to get out of bed to watch it. Sometimes I would watch for a few minutes and then climb back in bed, but taking in the sunrise each morning really instilled in me how lucky I was to be turning 30 and how lucky I was to be celebrating in such a beautiful location.IMG_0067_2

I have been savoring this trip ever since we got back because it is the last big trip we have planned for the foreseeable future. Of course who knows what will happen in the coming months, but until then I can feel the sunshine, hear the laughter and taste the Mexican food every time I think about my 30th birthday in San Jose del Cabo.

I also want to shout out to Tooker Properties, Cabo Grocery Girls and Chileajos for making our stay the best that it could be by providing us with services that made us feel like the millionaires we hope to someday be!

Happy Sunshine Vibes

This week was the first full week of nice weather in NYC and I was loving it! We had our first Centra Park picnic, took a few walks, broke out our shorts and opened our windows! It has been surprising to me to feel such a strong shift in my mood when the sun is out and warming my skin. I am truly a warm weather kinda girl!     It was also Cinco de Mayo which meant slightly more Mexican food in my life than most weeks and lots of Gipsy Kings on the jam box. I did get a bit homesick thinking about all the burrito places in SF I could have been eating at, but my spirits perked up a bit when I decided to make it my mission to find a delicious burrito in NYC! 

Have a happy weekend everybody!