Dos Hermanos Mexican Kitchen

It’s too bad a small grocery market couldn’t make it in the 222, but having it replaced by a traditional, street-food-style Mexican spot? That’s something we all can gather around, and Dos Hermanos is decidedly a solid spot for authentic tacos.

Their menu is simple, and that’s not a bad thing. Tacos, burritos, enchiladas — you get what you would expect, and nothing more. (Granted, menudo on the weekend might be a curve-ball for some, but it should come as a welcome one.)

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The tacos are as simple as the menu: fresh tortillas, baked in-house, are vessels for suitably sparse, yet tasty fillings. Even the omnipresent chicken has something going for it. Here it comes in stringy, semi-spicy pieces, topped with a decent, if not overly exciting, salsa. Lime wedges are served on the side, though I only got two with my three taco meal, which, at one cent shy of $13, also gets you rice and beans.

The latter is prepared in just the right consistency and properly accompanies the tacos. Not too runny, but thin enough that you can either eat it by itself or on top of the taco. The rice has a bit of a Spanish kick to it as well.

Bonus points go to some well-thought-out interiors. A mural and a color-pop from the bar add a pinch of pizazz to an otherwise austere space. The seating is comfortable enough to warrant a special mention of its own. It’s a good locale, with a view of the market apt for people watching. And everything on the menu can be prepared vegan style to boot.

Now granted, authentic tacos aren’t that out of the ordinary these days, but they’re a bit of a rarity outside of trucks in Oly. Bless spots like the QB for taking their spin on the classics, but once in a while, the real thing is what the heart wants. That’s not what the El Sarapes of the world serve.

Dos Hermanos, then, is in a great location where they serve good tacos. Team OlyCOOL™ emphatically consider it a great addition to downtown.

This post is part of Tortillaphilia, a category for those with a special relationship with anything tortilla related!

Quesada Burritos & Tacos

One can learn a lot about a country’s tortilla-based culture from a franchise. Does the public get to enjoy decent, assembly-line Mexican-ish food? Are things a step or two up from your average fast-food offerings? Can Canada best The Bell?

At Quesada Burritos & Tacos we threw caution to the wind and tried a quesadilla, namesake dishes be damned. Here, your tortilla-professional throngs together your meal, safely guiding you to your port of call.

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OK, I am being somewhat flippant. If one was to believe a Subway employee is a sandwich artist, its Quesada equivalent is a tortilla auteur. There’s nothing wrong with that per se, but the delivered works are rarely anything to put on display.

You can too easily replicate the quesadilla at home: A pair of tortillas and a jar of salsa are all you need to dress up the Kraft-style cheese, all conveniently available from your grocery store. The optional guacamole and corn are on the next shelf.

It’s disappointing. I cannot recall if I ever have tried anything from Chipotle, but word has reached me they deliver decent, fresh dishes, a step above their franchise-ilks. For whatever reason, I had expected Quesada to be similar: Not necessarily a mind-blowing meal, but one that would make you smile and nod. That’s just one assumes from Canada. Something more… Canadian.

Glass half-full, though: It is better than The Bell.

Luckily, our previous Canadian exposé found better options. Check out The Ruby on Johnson, for the country at its finest.

This post is part of Tortillaphilia, a category for those with a special relationship with anything tortilla related!

Paco’s Tacos

Fashionably nested between a barber shop and a paint store in Lacey’s strip-mall meadows is Paco’s Tacos. It might not be the most desirable location to visit — the ambiance takes a hit when your view is the rear of a Ford F-250 — but then, hole-in-the-walls often deliver the goods.

Paco’s, a purveyor of my latest obsession, the California-style burrito, is an example of the proverbial exception that proves the rule.

There is something sad about a bland the burrito. In your heart and mind, you have expectations for the San Diego incarnation. A mélange of all things good in life, the burrito should feature French fries in a harmonious dance with traditional Mexican flavors, each providing their distinct moves. Call it the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers of burritos if you so like.

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Things did not go well at Paco’s. Soggy fries make the burrito instantly eligible for disqualification, and flavorless carne asada does little to help the situation. On the other hand, a decent guacamole did make its best effort to save the stumps. And give Paco’s this: You can take advantage of a very decent spice-bar. The salsas kick, and the pickled vegetables have the flavor and bite the burrito is missing. Utilize the bar, and the burrito becomes salvageable.

That, to me, is not enough. A burrito should exist on its terms, and performing salsa-based CPR makes for a moot experience. Assembling your own burrito is something to be done in the privacy of your own home.

Not every hole-in-the-wall delivers the goods, then, and Paco’s is a sad monument to that.

For a proper local California burrito, try Don Juan’s — they treat you right!

This post is part of Tortillaphilia, a category for those with a special relationship with anything tortilla related!

Biscuit House

I’m a torn man.

I approached Biscuit House with the expectations of it being an entry in The Great Burrito Chase. My philosophy has always been, if it’s on the menu, it should be up to the standards of whatever cuisine they have specialized in, no matter if it’s something out of their comfort zone. Like the Biscuit House’s breakfast burrito. It is good, for sure, if not overly noteworthy. And that should be the end of it all. Yet…

There are too many things to like about this spot, even its location inside a Toyota dealership. That is admirable — who on earth opens a restaurant inside a car dealership? No longer are you greeted by a maître d’, but rather by three salesmen? (All of whom were very nice.) Madness!

No, this is one of the few times I found the need to get past a good, but not fantastic burrito. And by all means, if the mood strikes, you could do a lot worse. You get three eggs stuffed in a chipotle tortilla, with your token cheese and sausage, all very flavorful. The packaged sour cream and what I assume is La Victoria salsa pull the impression down. A good meal in itself, but quite possibly not worth the trek to a car dealership.

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It is all moot, though, as the biscuits are excellent. Sample a plain one, and you’ll find no need for gravy. The bite is good, and the flavor is pronounced. It’s something you’d want to take home and drape in any and all crazy toppings. Jam; ham; lamb; it’s all OK.

Yet, their signature dish, the Sunshine Pizza, is what it is about. The crust, as one would expect, is all biscuit; the sauce is all gravy. No surprises come with the sausage and ham toppings, nor the cheddar cheese. Where it all comes together, though, is the core of it all — two eggs, over easy, sitting right on top. The combination is delicious, and sure, I get how you might think this sounds like just another biscuit sandwich. It isn’t. It is so much more, and with each part prepared just so, you get a picture you want to get familiar with.

I don’t think it was downright wrong to go with the burrito — my points above still hold. If it’s on the menu, and you charge for it, the dish should be as good as any of your signatures. And the burrito isn’t bad. I don’t regret ordering it.

Luckily, our intern, who meticulously prepared the outing, did go with the recommended dish, and it has to be said: It’s the way to go.

Yes, it is bizarre walking into a car dealership for a meal, but whatever. When what you get is an excellent meal, then the indignity is more than worth it.

Memo’s Mexican Food Restaurant

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That fellow tortilla-lovers flock to Tortillaphilia should be a surprise to no-one, and recommendations are often flung upon us1. On Twitter — follow us, if you would so like — @emmettoconnell gave Memo’s in Tacoma a somewhat reserved thumbs up, yet not reserved enough not to undertake a fact-finding mission to the place. What we found was good. Not great, but a type of meal that benefits any rational society.

Memo’s is a classic Cali-Mex drive-through, with minimal seating in a space that is almost chambre séparée2. (This is the 6th street location — others take more of a traditional restaurant route.) It’s open 24 hours a day, which typically means it caters to the late-night crowds: Large burritos at fair prices is something many crave at certain hours. My chorizo burrito ran for a cent less than $4, and it was stuffed full of flavorful sausage. Not only cheaper than Taco Bell but — obviously — tastier, too.

Despite not being under the breakfast menu, the burrito additionally prominently featured eggs, which, while surprising, pleasingly soothed the spicier sausage. A bit of cheese finished out the profile.

A good burrito, certainly, though not entirely mind-blowing. Memo’s holds the typical Cali-Mex drive-through standard, which by all means is delectable for what it is in all its simplicity. And again: $4. With that, I’d at least make Memo’s a late-night stop3 had I lived in the area.

The actual interiors are sparse, and while they have a certain distinct charm, I’d still recommend sticking with the drive-through. A burrito like this can, and probably should be enjoyed at home.

Lastly, a word about the accompanying salsa: It’s hot. Really hot. I can take spicy, but I’d be hard-pressed dressing my burrito up in the salsa verde. The chorizo had enough of a kick by itself.

Simple, tasty, and not overly remarkable… That is perfectly fine for this kind of spot. Memo’s delivers what it promises, and that’s good enough for us.

Oh, and tweet us or email us at if you have dining suggestions. We are, apparently, open to everything, everywhere.

1 … twice, but let’s not split hairs.

2 A solitary dining area. We’re all about the pretentious words here.

3 Granted, late is sort of a relative term for me these days.

This post is part of Tortillaphilia, a category for those with a special relationship with anything tortilla related!