La guerra del burrito [Edited Jan. 21]
Chipotle is about to open its first franchise in Harvard Square sometime in September. This increases the number of burrito/Mexican (or “Mexican”) restaurants in Harvard Square; there is a Qdoba, a Boloco and Felipe’s Taquería, the only one that is not a chain restaurant. I’ve entered all four restaurants and had different experiences in each one.
I went to a Chipotle in Medford the second weekend of college in September with my roommates and a few others in the entryway. One of my roommates is a proud Denverite and supports Denver-founded Chipotle wholeheartedly. My other roommates wanted some, too, and I came along mainly to get to know my roommates and partly to try this Chipotle, which I had only heard about and also somewhat in the spirit of Chavo’s reviews of huevos rancheros. What amazed me about Chipotle was the sheer size of the burritos. I got a burrito with arroz, frijoles, crema agria, and barbacoa. It was a lot of food for me to consume, but it tasted good. Their selection of meats was ok, but what hurt it a lot was the size of the burrito and the drink selection. I don’t like having Coke (unless it’s in a glass bottle from México) with Mexican food. I’d rather have horchata or Sidral (my favorite), and Chipotle had neither. Overall, Chipotle as acceptable, but not somewhere I’d eat with any sense of regularity.
Qdoba is across the street from my dorm and I went in sometime in October just to try it out. I went in and saw that they use white rice instead of Spanish rice, which was an instant loss of two points. I ordered a burrito de carne asada. The whire rice was somewhat gummy, the beans were tasteless, the carne asada was cold and the tortilla was chalky. From that day on, the only thing I buy at Qdoba is nachos because they are acceptable and the proximity of Qdoba is a big factor when the sidewalks are covered in black ice.
Last week, I decided to go to Boloco with my roommates just to check it out. I walked in and almost immediately walked out. Boloco advertises itself as a burrito place, but it’s more of a wrap place. I saw the menu and after experiencing the environment inside, I walked out. Boloco is, in simple terms, cold and clean. There is no smell coming from behind the counter. It’s all designed to be shiny in order to appeal to those who are cleanliness freaks.
Felipe’s Taquería is my favorite and the closest to Mexican food in the Square anyone can get. Upon entering, one notices that there is music playing in the background, anything from rancheras to banda to norteñas to even mambo. When I first entered Felipe’s the first week of college, the people working the counter must have seen mi nopal en la frente because they addressed me in Spanish. After I ordered a burrito de carne asada, I took note of other characteristics. You see the food being cooked behind the counter, the different meats they offer (Felipe’s is the only one that serves al pastor and chorizo), the variety or drinks (other than the standard Coke-brand fare, they have Jarritos, Sidral, horchata and jamaica) and the foods others don’t serve, such as tostadas, flan and arroz con leche. Because of what they serve and the service I get from the people working the counter, I am a supporter of Felipe’s. It’s the most Mexican food in Harvard Square.
Now that Chipotle is about to enter the fray at Harvard Square, the question that is on my mind is which of the others will go first? I don’t care who leaves, as long as Felipe’s remains at the Square to serve actual Mexican food. My roommates will probably go to Chipotle, but I know that I will forever go to Felipe’s and eat there.
UPDATE, 3:27 p.m. I’ve gotten hits from the Boloco email server. They must keep tabs on whoever links to their site.