Burrito bowl GM's new lunch approach
Walking in the Westgate shopping area I realized it was a perfect opportunity for a Burrito Famous lunch.
Like me, most likely for many GLOBers, Burrito Famous isn't normally on my lunchtime radar screen. Nestled just off the corner of University Avenue, and 34th St. with an extremely long concrete median directly in front of the burrito stand makes what should be an easy in-and-out lunch stop opportunity difficult.
A Giant burrito in a bowl lunch sounded like a good idea. With a have-it-your-way thought process conjuring up a variety of taste explosions in my head for a spicy Mexican flavored mid-day meal.
This lunch time adventure became more interesting when Kim, behind the BF lunch counter, said she was a vegetarian and the Burrito Famous Veggie with Artie's Tempeh, plaintains, or avocado ($6,75) was her favorite as a Burrito Famous Bowl salad.
And my fast casual a lunch line odyssey began.
"Would you like beans, or rice as your base," Kim asked reaching for the extra-large spoon.
"No rice, black beans please, " I reply thinking a double order of beans was a lot of beans.
"I put a bed of spinach on the bottom of my bowl," Kim offered. "We have avocado slices and an avocado spread, I select the sliced avocado as my protein," Kim says with an engaging smile.
Voila! What good ideas I think to myself as we move on down the ingredient line ready to fill my lunch bowl with veggie goodness when I spy the assortment of salsas and toppings.
"How about the mild, and the spicy salsa please," I ask eyeing the delicious looking yellow corn salsa for flavor and a dramatic yellow color, and red tomatoes to my lunch time image. Likewise the chopped, fresh jalapeno peppers added a much appreciated smack of heat to my lunch. Grated cheese, onions, and mango habanero chili lime sauce topped off my mountain of meatless delight in a spectacular fashion.
The long, up and down format of the Burrito Famous building left room at the end of the line for several tables inside the burrito stand. There are multiple tables, seating opportunities available around the outside of the burrito stand.
My BF custom salad was spectacular with the spicy salsas awakening each and every one of my taste buds. The textures of the crunchy corn and creamy avocado melded nicely with the heat from for the fresh jalapenos. I could enjoy this being a regular lunch stop, if it was located somewhere else on the Urban GLOB lunch map. (FYI there is a second Burrito Famous in Butler Plaza, Archer Rd. Triangle. . .)
I was feeling smart about my Burrito lunch salad thinking of all the automobiles lined up on University Avenue just outside my lunch table waiting their turn to navigate one of the busiest intersections in Hoggetowne.
Well I left my job about 5 o'clock, it took fifteen minutes go three blocks,
Just in time to stand in line with the freeway looking like a parking lot.
Damn this traffic jam, how I hate to be late, it hurts my motor to go so slow.
- Damn This Traffic Jam
-- James Taylor
'Burrito stand' challenges burrito big shots
By Melissa Kahan, GLOB Correspondent
I don't know about anyone else, but when I crave a burrito, one with exceptional variety and quality of ingredients, my go-to burrito spot is Chipotle Mexican Grill. While not a local food stop, I have always loved the size, flavors and assembly of the large burritos served there; as I typically describe them, they are comparable to "the size of a baby." However, Burrito Famous, close to the corner of 34th St. and University Avenue, is now giving my tried-and-true burrito haven a run for its money.
My friend, Alyssa, has been asking me to go to Burrito Famous for a few weeks. After hearing about the quick and easy Mexican food spot when it opened, which boasts everything from burritos and salads to tacos and nachos, it has been on my to-go list. A few grueling days of studying pushed me over the top, and I took Alyssa up on the study break offer of a satiating burrito. Not to mention that Alyssa and I have frequented Chipotle to a borderline embarrassing degree, so if there was anyone I should venture to a new burrito place with, I could think of no one better.
I approached the small food joint as skeptical as any new customer might be, as I felt like I was cheating on Chipotle in a way. My friend's first reaction to Burrito Famous was an observation: "Wait, this is it? It's a tiny hole in the wall!" Nonetheless, we entered to four employees happily ready to create our meal of choice.
True to form, both Alyssa and I desired a burrito. It is hands-down one of the best features at these small Mexican conveyer line-type restaurants, in my opinion. I was, however, surprised to find that there were multiple options aside from a burrito that I would not find at Chipotle, such as nachos, tempeh, and plantains. It was the available burrito fillings that sent me into indecisive food adventurer mode, as I wanted to try everything and get the most fulfilling experience for my first time there while not overdoing it in response to my overzealous food excitement.
As I often do at newly-visited restaurants, I ask the people who know the product best, the employees, to determine my order. In this case, it was my burrito assembler, Ryan, who guided me through the assembly process. I was glad that he gave me a well thought-out answer, too. I always — and I mean always — order the pork carnitas burrito from Chipotle. I was about to resort to that when Ryan suggested a combination of the beef barbacoa with the pork carnitas for a happy marriage of meaty flavor. He even guaranteed a re-do if I was not satisfied with that particular burrito option, but he added, "I have never had to remake a burrito, and I'm pretty sure you'll think it's delicious."
To continue my surprise, the choice of a veggie burrito with an avocado, tempeh or plantain base; the Baja Fish option; and the Egg N'Chorizo alternative sparked my interest. These are also not seen on the Chipotle menu. Burrito Famous even has the "BFamous Freestyle" menu with pre-combined items. If my food experiences have prefaced anything, I am a huge fan of the pre-selected choices. But to give the burrito joint a true shot, I had to go about it as I always do at these places with an off-the-cuff burrito arrangement. There is a complete Burrito Famous menu at the restaurant web link below.
Selecting the meat base was hardly scratching the surface of the assembly process. As previously mentioned, the topping selection was slightly overwhelming. I wanted to keep it simple with what I feel is the burrito essentials: beans (they only had the option of black), cilantro white rice, medium salsa, shredded cheese, guacamole (which was an extra, but oh-so worth it, cost), sour cream, black olives, lettuce, extra cilantro and tomato slices, all delicately wrapped in a warm, toasted tortilla blanket. I was very tempted by the unique toppings available, though, including plantains, bacon(!), pickled jalapenos and chipotle ranch/curry mayo sauces, among others. Due to the sheer size of the finished product, I was audibly concerned as to whether the tortilla would bend beneath the weight of toppings. Alas, my expectations were exceeded.
Alyssa and I decided the cooler weather was cause to dine at one of the few outside tables — I wouldn't be surprised, though, if there was more seating available outside than inside — and we wasted no time digging in. Her spicier chicken-based burrito, complete with peppers, sriracha sauce and hot salsa, left me wishing I had added a spicy and crunchy element to my somewhat monotone-textured burrito. While one bite of the thick, tender chicken chunks and crunchy spice pleased my taste buds, she said that multiple bites left her mouth searing, the spicy elements overwhelming even the cooling elements of the burrito, such as guacamole and cheese.
My pork carnitas/beef barbacoa burrito set the stage for a completely unique burrito experience, but what I received was an experience reminiscent of so many others I've had. As hard as I tried, I could not help but compare this burrito to that of Chipotle's. Sue me. The noticeable spiciness level of Chipotle's medium salsa led me to select the medium Burrito Famous salsa, but there was not even a hint of spice in it. Honestly, it was a similar experience to a Chipotle burrito. The toppings overpowered the meat, but, when I managed to get a bite of it over the overflowing toppings, it was well-seasoned and juicy, the shredded texture of each meat type complementing each other and the richness of the creamy sour cream and guacamole. The lettuce, which I rely on for that much-needed crunch in a sea of softer ingredients, did not quite deliver, but that could be easily remedied with a few jalapenos or peppers tossed in next time. However, it was a flavor-packed burrito, and it definitely hit the spot.
While Chipotle will never leave the top five spot in my burrito repertoire, Burrito Famous, in a word, delighted. It met my pretty high burrito expectation and left me wanting more. I was thoroughly impressed by the unique selection, homemade ingredients, which is what sold me on the fresh guacamole, and I paid under $7, even considering I combined meat options! Next up (and there will be a "next"): the tempeh burrito or, if I'm feeling really crazy, a bowl, which I have never attempted even at Chipotle.
Is it a 'do-it-yourself taco' if I tell a taco maker exactly what ingredients I want? Whatever you call it, it is a good feature of taco stands to specialize in letting the eater of the taco do the creating. Come on, look at the choices you can load into your crispy or soft (first decision!) taco shell: Pick your rice, pick your beans, pick your cheese, and then mix and match over 30 different toppings, including sour cream, banana peppers, pineapple, Sriracha sauce, guacamole, and jalapenos. Was that enough Meatless Monday toppings for you GLOBers?
I had fun creating my 3-taco (crispy!) Meatless Monday lunch with some very special flavors:
Pinto beans with rice, pico de gallo, onions, fresh jalapeno peppers, and habanero sauce.
Avocado with onions, peppers, fresh jalapenos, banana peppers, cilantro lime slaw, Jack cheese.
Fried plaintains with corn relish, red onions, tomatoes, peppers, guacamole sauce, Jack cheese.
The avocado taco was excellent. The creaminess of the avocado combined with the heat from the peppers made for a bright, eye-opening flavor attack. The fried plaintain taco with a soft banana texture, sweet, pronounced, flavorful Spanish flair was my favorite. Now I wonder if I will be able to remember the fried plaintain taco ingredients on my next trip . . .
The Pluses and Minuses of Burrito Famous:
Burrito Famous + indicators : wide variety; helpful and amiable staff; good price for the portion; many fresh ingredients made in-house
Burrito Famous - indicators: Very Little seating; My Chipotle-influenced mindset speaking . . .
Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Burrito Famous Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments. - THANKS!
- Phone Number: 352 672-6654
- Address: 3412 W University Ave. Gainesville, FL
- Urban GLOB Location: University Avenue
- Web Site: Burrito Famous
- Latitude: 29.652257
- Longitude: -82.372966
The creator of Chipotle, Steve Ellis, is a very smart guy and a really good guy - check out the Wall Street Journal story about him linked at the GLOB Chipotle page. The limited ingredients at Chipotle is an intentiional strategy to maintain quality. Chipotle Bowls are the best! Especially when you can't finish the very substantial serving, it's a great way to have left overs. I do want to try a bowl at Famous Burritos, though.
Angie Shepherd Keen Thursday, 24 October 2013 11:45 Comment Link
Thanks for the review Melissa! Like yourself, I've never tried Burrito Famous and maybe because I absolutely LOVE Chipotle! I think maybe I should give it a shot as well...after reading your review sounds like I will discover yet another really good Mexican hot spot!! I always order the pork for my bowl, but I've often thought Chipotle should have fresh fish too....so I'm dying to try BF's Baya fish with "their" guac and sauces. Sounds yum ;) Now, I can't wait to try BF too!!
Angie S ;)
MICHAEL D. Friday, 16 August 2013 19:51 Comment Link
YUMMY!!! NUFF SAID... about Burrito Famous!