Saturday, August 05, 2006

Taco Tour: Great Burrito

I decided to embark my Taco Tour in my own backyard, Chelsea. In a neighborhood drowning in high-end Mexican restaurants (Rocking Horse, Suenos, Crema) and Chinese-owned taquerias, I was surprised to find a true Mexican-owned hole-in-the-wall only a block away. I had passed this place many times, but had never been convinced it was worth a visit due to its lack of air conditioning and the swarming flies and dirty floor. But I've been to Mexico, and have eaten in places far worse for aesthetic value. And hey, when tacos are concerned, the quality of food can sometimes be in an inverse proportion to a restaurant's atmosphere. So I decided to give Great Burrito a chance.

I would love to report that I found a true gem a block away, but unfortunately, that's not the case. I ordered 3 tacos: el pastor, chorizo and carne asada. And one out of three wasn't bad. But that's the only good news. The rest was depressing. First, the tortillas. I saw the cook pull them out of a bag and throw them into a pizza oven (yes, the place also serves pizza, along with tortas, tostadas, burritos (natch) and enchiladas) for a few seconds. He shouldn't have bothered. The tortillas were cold, tasteless and yet still fell apart. Completely useless. So I ate my taco fillings with a fork.

Now what about the meat? Save for the pork, which was succulent, juicy, had a nice char, and a good cinnamon and lime flavor, the other two meats were inedible. The carne asada was all gristle with a bad "been sitting in the freezer" flavor. And the chorizo tasted like sweet, rubbery Italian sausage. The toppings were disappointing as well. Each taco was sprinkled with onions and cilantro--a good beginning and a fine ending. But Great Burrito also poured on some weird avocado salsa, that was like guacamole mixed with water and tomatoes. It had no flavor, no substance and no heat. And if any salsa was added (there was none on the counter for me to put on myself) I couldn't taste or see it.

Maybe Great Burrito makes great burritos. But I'd stay away from the tacos, save for the el pastor, and expect to eat it with a fork.

Recommendation: El Pastor taco. Request weird avocado sauce be left off taco.
Score: 3
Location: 23rd and 6th Avenue, Manhattan

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