"[C]ritics Casey Deeha, Chipp Oatlay, Sal Savirdy and 'El Presidente Mole' promise to provide 'not merely a description of burritos, but a more writerly experience that gives the attention to burritos that they deserve.' Yep. You heard it here, folks. - Jay Barmann, SF Grubfest
"[Casey Deeha] also thinks it could be a matter of cultural heritage and sense of place why a Mission-style burrito is thought to taste the best in San Francisco." - Tamara Palmer, Zagat
"Bay Area Review of Burritos -a must read for anyone remotely interested in foil-wrapped tube food" - Kevin Montgomery, Up Town Almanac
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Taqueria Mexican Grill, Locust St., Walnut Creek
Written by Chipp Oatlay
There is a point to always asking why. While this may irritate and anger some people--mostly conservatives--I have found that deconstructionism deftly explains the (d)evolution of modern society. Take Imperialism for instance. Often its sterling legacy is sullied by genocides and unfortunate inquisitions. Yet, the true value of Imperialism should not be overlooked. It can be found in every cup of tea, match of cricket, football and tennis and in every bottle of Bombay Sapphire gin. It can also be found in the economic and utilitarian creation of the burrito.
Walnut Creek is an interesting meeting point for burrito joints. Somewhere among the stupid no-left-turn-even-though-there-is-no-median-and-two-fucking-lanes-to-turn-into, retail shops and trying to find parking within 5 blocks of Peete's Coffee, there is a collection of cantinas, taquerias and mexican grills that present the burrito lover with enough choices to keep one eating pseudo-Mexican food at least two or three days a week. The line was out the door at Cinco de Mayo, so I walked across the street and entered Taqueria Mexican Grill.
The decor is a considerably upscale compared to other restaurants of the ilk. It is also much larger than comparable competitors, which makes it feel expansive because the line will not cue around your table while you are eating. If you do not want to watch football while eating your lunch, then you can sit in the back and not be watched by the three 42" flat screen TVs that grace the upper walls of the taqueria.
I ordered a carne asada “Giant Burrito”--black beans instead of refried--and two tacos. For the purposes of this review, I know that I should stay clear of the tacos (right?), but my conscience will not permit me to overlook the taco tortillas soaked in oil. Obviously, I am a frustrated writer with delusions of grandeur, but I was also once a cook and I do actually care about people's culinary experience. Stay clear of the tacos.
On the other hand, the burrito was one of the best I have had in Walnut Creek (not renowned as a haven of burrito enlightenment). The carne asada was succulent and flavor full. Its taste was reminiscent of this little cantina I ate at years ago outside of Miguel Hidalgo in Jalisco. The secret is usually rendering the beef fat and cooking the meat in its own juices--here, the menu says “marinated”. The meat soaked in fat tends to eliminate those dry ends of the burrito by exuding rivulets of meaty juice that make you grateful for the gratuitous tortilla that is folded in at the end to make this little cylinder of joy. My hunger was satisfied and my carne asada “Giant Burrito” was delicious. The salsa verde was piquant and well-balanced between tomatilla flavor and spiciness. The black beans were adequate and the burrito was not overstuffed with lettuce. When judging a carne asada burrito, the other ingredients are inconsequential. In the end, it is all about the quality of the steak.
Salsa Rating: Medium