subject: L's Burrito and Juice Company
take-out vehicle: aluminum foil and a paper bag
6/8/10 update: L's has closed.
I'll be honest: I wasn't looking forward to reviewing L's. In fact, I'd been putting it off for months. See, I went there twice last year. I was so excited the first time. I remember ordering two pork tacos...then disappointment punched me like I was Charlie Murphy in Studio 54.* Everything about them was bland, from the meat to the hot sauce. I was just totally underwhelmed.
The second time I went hoping the first was just a fluke. Still wary of the pork, however, I ordered a beef taco and a chicken taco. To my continued disappointment, they ended up tasting just like the pork ones. So, I resigned myself to that fact that, whatever I chose, I just didn't like L's food.
Then, after months of gestating, it hit me. It was so simple—foolproof, even. If this didn't work, then nothing would. When it was finally time to order, L greeted me as I suspected he would: "Hey, friend. What would you like?"
Then shrewdly, brilliantly, I put my plan into motion. "Yeah, uhh...what would you get?"
"Me?" he said. "Well, the pork burritos are good."
Success! "I'll have one of those, please."
Once made and laden with all the optional toppings (except for sour cream...blech), I made it back to my desk. Extracting it from it's bag, I was immediately impressed by one thing: the burrito was so big, so stuffed with pork, pintos, rice, veggies, and guac, that the aluminum foil wrapping was too small to fit around it. At least I was getting my money's worth. But it was time to eat.
Sadly, while certainly better than the tacos of last year, L's pork burrito didn't quite do it for me. First though, my compliments. The beans were great. They were rich and well seasoned, and there were just enough to appreciate but not overpower. The chopped green chiles were a nice touch, too. They were mild, to be sure, but I liked them. In combination with the hot sauce, I had a pleasant lingering heat well after my meal.
Unfortunately, I found the pork to still be underwhelming. Perhaps it's great by itself (it was too difficult to extricate for a separate tasting), but with all the competing elements, its flavor got lost. I also had an issue with the fresh chopped white onions. It's a personal thing, but I'm not big fan of the bitter tang of raw white onions. The texture was good, but I think a red, yellow, or vidalia onion would have been better.
My biggest gripe, however, was due to the guacamole. I paid a dollar extra for it, and I got a good amount, but it was completely lumped into one end of the burrito. It made me very upset.
To combat my upsetedness, I knew of only one solution. I marched back to L's cart, fist clenched.
"Hey man, what's up?" he said.
I threw out my upturned fist and opened it, exposing the six quarters inside. "I'd like a cookie, please."
Little known to me before I ordered my burrito, L also offers homemade chocolate chip cookies which he bakes daily. It cost a bit more than I would have liked, but it was closer than Cappellino's, and needed my fix.
It certainly did the trick, but after finishing it, I couldn't help but feel like I'd just eaten 3 eggs and a stick of butter. Better than nothing, don't get me wrong, but it was heavy, and walking a few more blocks to Cappellino's would have been well worth it.
I've yet to taste L's limeade (which is supposed to be great), but I think I've now had enough of his food to make a fair judgment. Letting L choose my meal was an excellent idea, but the burrito just wasn't good enough for me to pass up all the other temptations the Downtown Mall has to offer.
* I know it's not the most sound analogy, but I love the video. It's NSFW, btw.