Soledad en masa

La guerra del burrito [Edited Jan. 21]

with 11 comments

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.


Written by soledadenmasa

January 20, 2008 at 10:56 pm

Posted in College

11 Responses

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  1. felipes has another location in New Orleans. They copied all recipes from Anna’s. Anna’s copied all recipes from Gordo’s in SF.

    chipotle doesn’t use spanish rice either… both chipotle and qdoba use a cilantro lime rice. neither are even remotely mexican.

    boloco is hardly mexican and doesn’t try to be. have you tried the buffalo or the summer?

    enjoyed your post.


    January 21, 2008 at 12:04 am

  2. I always heard people rave on about Chipotle also, and I finally tried it last year when in Denver visiting my Denverite friend. That cilantro rice doesn’t cut it, it was very disappointing overall. Besides, it’s owned by McDonald’s. Nuff said.

    Here in Philly there are tons of Qdoba’s. I had never noticed them before in LA (are there any?) but I don’t’t plan on eating at one anyhow. Thanks for confirming what I already suspected about the place! Taking one for the team.

    The quality of Mexican food here on the East Coast is not quite up to par.

    Chicana Skies

    January 21, 2008 at 7:19 pm

  3. White rice in a burrito is criminal, as is the Teriyaki I spotted on the boloco menu, check out their HR’s, also just totally wrong! Boston has a way to go to catch up, good luck out there!


    January 21, 2008 at 10:17 pm

  4. Stan,
    I’m well aware of the Felipe’s/Anna’s connection. I think Felipe’s was once an Anna’s, but changed to Felipe’s and retained the same recipes and menu.

    Chicana Skies,
    What is it about Denverites and Chipotle? I figured there were enough Mexicans in Denver that the city would have access to real Mexican food. I guess it’s the same with LA people and Original Tommy’s or In-N-Out. Chipotle was once owned by McDonald’s, but not anymore. I checked out the Qdoba website and they have a number of Qdobas in California, but almost all are in suburbia (Alhambra, West Sacramento, Valencia, Redlands, Westlake). There’s one in Downtown LA! I’ll be at UPenn in two weeks, so I might try some of the “Mexican” food out in Philadelphia.

    I’m not going back in Boloco. I’ll pass on the HRs. Maybe you should try them? I’m considering beginning a series of food reviews on Mexican/”Mexican” restaurants out in the East Coast.


    January 22, 2008 at 3:42 pm

  5. I believe Qdoba is owned by Jack in the Box.


    January 31, 2008 at 12:28 am

  6. For burritos, Felipe’s is tops on the Cambridge side of the Charles, with Picante sometimes offering up the goodness. Except that Picante has burritos whose size rival those of El Tepeyac. They’re monstrous. And ah-yeah, Felipe’s has Sidral. I’m with you there, Diego. I don’t go to Anna’s unless I’m really hard-pressed for a good burrito.

    On Boston-side, there’s El Pelon, which serves up some nice southern-style burritos. And now that they’re open. Pupuseria La Guanaca serves up the good Salvadoran food in Jamaica Plain, and, strangely enough on . Tacos El Charro, run by Pepe “El Tapatio” Gutierrez of Mariachi Mexamerica, though is the only place I’ve been able to find my menudo on Sunday.

    I’ve yet to venture out into Eastie, la tierra Mexicana in Boston if there ever is one. But I’m waiting and scheming. There’s some good stuff in Lawrence, I’ve heard, too.


    February 12, 2008 at 5:46 pm

  7. Bentrogena

    February 15, 2008 at 10:49 am

  8. Gert-man,
    Thank you so very much for that. I can walk there! I hope Friere is doing a good job.


    February 15, 2008 at 12:32 pm

  9. You’re on to me! How do you know about Freire? She used to be at South Gate High School. Is that right?


    February 16, 2008 at 2:14 am

  10. Yes, she was. As fast as she arrived at SGHS she left for Roosevelt.


    February 16, 2008 at 10:00 am

  11. […] mío, ¿por qué? Jump to Comments That Chipotle “restaurant” I blogged about a few weeks ago is set to open this week or weekend. Tomorrow, they’ll have a “free […]

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