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El Sarape: Burrito

El Sarape is a place you don’t want to find yourself, but you repeatedly will. That’s life, what with the number of El Sarape type spots around the world. You know the kind, where the menu is the size of a book, proudly proclaiming suspect dishes like the Mexican pizza. I’m not saying there is no such a thing as a good Mexican pizza, mind you, I just have never had it, and I’m fairly certain I never will.

It’s not a book to inspire much excitement either, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you end up at the ever prevalent burrito section. It’s about the only page you have a shadow of chance to find anything worthwhile.

And the carne asada burrito might not have been downright horrible, but rather offensively average. The same type you get at any of these generic Mexican restaurants.1 I’m not expecting every burrito to jump up and dance the foxtrot in my mouth or anything, but come on… A bland tortilla wrapped around flavorless carne asada… Would it take that much to do something a little different? Kick up the guacamole a notch? Add something, remove something? Something, anything to differentiate yourself?

The problem isn’t you, of course. Or maybe it is. Maybe tortillaphiliacs are to blame, with our impossibly high tortilla standards? There aren’t enough of us out there, and thus the purveyors of Mexican food cater only to the proletariat.

El Sarape, is just another dull face in the crowd, a concept our friends at Arrested Development many times have touched on.

1 And there are many of them.


Remi’s rating…
Score: 1 out of 4 stars

Visit them…
5409 Capitol Blvd SW, Tumwater, WA 98501

… or socialize with them on… Website Facebook


Egg tortilla breakfast taco

Touché, Taco Bell, touché.

Thumbnail for Egg tortilla

I’ll admit I had expected the bacon taco shell to be the most breakfast-y of all tortilla offshoots, but I’ll be hell if The Bell didn’t one-up it. A fried egg «tortilla»? Points given for creativity.

There is no way I would actually go to Taco Bell and try it, mind you. I have my doubts they would use anything close to even an egg substitute, but still… I was intrigued enough to try making one myself.

The ingredients

  • An egg.

The steps

  1. Fry the egg.

I mean, good grief, it’s a fried egg—there really isn’t much more to it.

If you really want to get into the nitty-gritty, one thing you need to keep in mind is that you’ll need a spatula to stop the egg from spreading out to all sides. Make sure you adjust the egg into a circle while it is cooking. The size should be something akin of a traditional corn tortilla.

And despite Taco Bell’s promo shots of beautiful, over-easy eggs1, this really needs to be done over-hard. Don’t cook it until it’s rubber, but you don’t want the yolk running all over your fingers while eating, either. You’d look like a freak!

Top it with some steak, bacon, guacamole, pico de gallo, and cheddar, and you got a pretty legit breakfast taco going. The «shell» should hold up just fine, and will only be as greasy as the butter you put in the pan.

Eat, safe in the knowledge you once again beat The Bell at its own game.

1 Which I’m too lazy to find a link to.


Tortilla Union: Taco

Tortilla Union does everything right. Or, as it is, Tortilla Union does everything the right way. There’s a slight, but important difference between the two.

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Imagine the scenario: You’ve watched an average movie, feeling averagely hungry, and hey, what do you know, you’re in a mall. What better place to find an average meal? You’re lying to yourself and you’re lying to us if you claim this has never happened to you. We are all guilty of it. We want convenience, but we don’t entirely want to give up on our ideals. We don’t want to lower ourselves to Red Robin.

And that is why Tortilla Union exists.

This is the place you tell your friends you went to after watching Suicide Squad, in a strange daze, feeling somewhat distraught at the lack of Jared Leto1. You «wanted something quick and simple to go with a drink». And you know what? Tortilla Union does that perfectly averagely. You won’t lose face going there—as long as you present the story with a roll of the eye and a chuckle—and you will walk out having forgotten the experience pretty much as soon as you’ve paid the check.

It’s like it was created for a mall, Tortilla Union2. It’s as inoffensive as it possibly can be. Gluten free options abound, and tacos complementing the average beer selection. You can happily eat and drink and socialize, well in knowledge of the two first not getting in the way of the third.

It would be charitable to call the carne asada «gently seasoned» as opposed to «bland», and the pickled onion really doesn’t add much to the party. The tortillas themselves? Well, they hold it all together at least.

It is what it is, Tortilla Union, and what it is, is either perfectly or criminally average, depending on your point of view.

1 Words I never thought I’d say, but what the hell, right?

2 Or malls were created for it.


Remi’s rating…
Score: 2 out of 4 stars

Visit them…
808 W Main, Spokane, WA 99201

… or socialize with them on… Website Facebook Twitter


Cheddar cheese taco shells

It’s a special and intimate, the relationship between you and your tortillas. Maybe you’re a traditionalist who goes with the classic corn variety, or maybe you travel the flour route. This is a safe space—we do not judge!

Thumbnail for Cheddar cheese taco shells

The Tortillaphilia™ Syndicate, too, like to get saucy now and again, and we have no issues trying «something out of the ordinary». Example: cheddar cheese taco shells.

The concept might sound wrong in most every way, and it kind of is, but the end result is actually not too far from a more traditional American taco shell. It’s kind of rubbery, but not as much as you would think.

The recipe for one «tortilla»

  • 1/2 cup grated medium cheddar. We recommend Tillamook.
  • Any spice you might want to add. A bit of paprika works great—Simply Organic is our go-to.

(Yes, those are Amazon Affiliate links—support your local tortillaphile!)

To assemble:

Preheat oven to 400º.

Spread cheese into a six inch circle on a baking sheet. Make sure to at least use parchment paper, though a Silpat works better. You really do not want the cheese to stick.

Bake in the oven until the edges start to brown. About 8-10 minutes.

While tortilla is baking, put two glasses upside down on a towel, and bridge a spatula between them. (See illustrative photo above.)

Let tortilla cool for about 3-5 minutes. Then carefully pick it up, and hang it over the spatula. It should take the shape of a taco shell after about five minutes.

That’s it—fill the shell with whatever your heart desires, and you’ll have one hell of a taco going. And dont’t deny yourself anything. Adding extra cheese is perfectly acceptable.


Barrio Mexican Kitchen & Bar: Burrito

Give Barrio this—and I am about to give them a lot: they truly know how to keep the riffraff out. Here you have to search for a wooden door the size of a city block, one that is pretty much a CrossFit workout1 to open. Hey, it’s not a place for just everyone.

Image of burrito

The food, meanwhile, is quite stellar, and a testament to what good corporate restaurants2 actually can be. Don’t get me wrong, there are things on the «eh» side of things. Particularly the slow service will slap you around a bit, Sean Connery style, but in the end, it’s all worth it.

Getting a truly stellar burrito is a rare thing, but I’ll be damned if Barrio didn’t get this one right. Unnecessary plating aside, the flank steak variety hit it home nigh-perfectly, with flavors both deep and subtle. A paradox, you may ask? Not really. The habanero salsa is something one might expect to be gut-punching, but here it just added to the flavor. That is particularly impressive, seeing I rarely find myself in support of the habanero pepper. Sure it adds heat, but flavor-wise it usually is… eh… Whatever was mixed into it at Barrio both kept the heat balanced, while adding some niceties to the palate. Not bad at all, and as importantly, the steak was both well-spiced and tender.

On the side, the pickled onions (and there was a lot of them) were perfect companions. Nice and fresh, tangy, with just a bit of a kick… It’s what someone like you would want, someone who truly «gets» the tortilla.

And Barrio gets the tortilla just fine and dandy. Take the time to find that door—it’s not just for decoration despite what one might think—and you’ll have yourself one good time.

1 One can’t help but wonder how a slim hipster can get in, mind you…

2 The spot is operated by HRG, kind of a «restaurateur’s enterprise» if you so like.


Remi’s rating…
Score: 4 out of 4 stars

Visit them…
1420 12th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122

… or socialize with them on… Website Facebook Twitter Instagram