Tucked in a small shopping center on Jordan, Burrito California’s most distinctive feature is the cheerful cartoon donkey decal on the window as part of their logo. Heading in on a Friday night, the hubby and I were greeted happily and given our choice of tables.
The small seating area mixed orange painted walls with large brick sections, painted dark purple and lime green. Paintings hung on the wall and a small TV suspended in one corner played Spanish TV just a little too loudly for the post dinner crowd quiet. The TV competed with the whir of fans to provide the ambient noise, though the fans had the advantage of cooling the restaurant to a pleasant temperature. Wooden tables mixed with a few plastic wrapped high tops.
Our server took our drink orders promptly–a bottle of water for the hubby and a “Mexican water” for me. Based on our server’s description “Mexican water” sounded similar to Gatorade or Tang, she said it was made with a powder and was tamarind flavored.
When she returned with our drinks we placed our order–Huaraches with carne asada for me and a chicken California burrito for the hubby. I was eager to try my drink, which came served in the same foam cups used for sodas or tea. Lighter than soda, the flavor was initially tart and mellowed into a fuller flavor. My guess at it being Gatorade or Tang-like was not bad as my closest point of reference was drinks made from a powdered lemonade mix. I enjoyed the flavor and will keep my eyes open for similar drinks in the future.
As I was trying to pinpoint tamarind flavor, our server appeared with an appetizer plate. Slices of cucumber and radishes were arranged with a lime wedge on a small plate.
Throwing caution to the wind we squeezed the lime over the vegetables before sampling them (this is how we live dangerously in the Dragon household). The cucumbers were crunchy, the radishes fresh and raw. The lime juice added a tart tang. Together the cucumber and lime reminded me of stronger version of cucumber water–refreshing with a punch of flavor.
As we were finishing up the cucumbers, our server reappeared with red and green salsas in squeeze bottles, followed shortly by our dinners.
My huarache (shown at the top of this post) featured a masa (corn dough) base which tended to split through the middle, as though it had been folded over itself during the cooking process. As near as I could tell, there was a wafer thin layer of beans spread between the two parts, which contributed to the splitting. The edges were tightly sealed and a touch crunchy. Being a corn dough, I wasn’t too surprised to realize that the texture and flavor were akin to eating a fluffy corn tortilla.
The toppings included a thin layer of salty smooth beans, small pieces of lightly flavored and slightly chewy beef, bits of grilled onions, shredded iceburg lettuce, and soft, smooth Mexican cheese. A thinned sour cream, drizzled attractively over the top, completed the dish. The portion was generous, enough so that I made two meals out of it. I had estimated size looking at the price, but I could have easily made a meal from the sope (a similar, but smaller, dish) instead.
My husband enjoyed his burrito, saying it was “veggie filled” and “good!”. Our server was observant–noticing both my struggles to cut the masa with my fork and my husband’s sampling of the hot sauces. She brought over a knife and asked him if he would like a spicier sauce. When he responded in the affirmative, she brought out a housemade sauce, also in a squeeze bottle. He reported the original red sauce at a medium and the housemade sauce as a step up. The green sauce was the mildest with no impact at first, but developing into a steady burn.
Once we completed our meal, our server brought us the check and a couple of punchcards–buy 10 meals, get a free item from half a dozen or so choices. We chatted for a few minutes more and then took our check up front to pay. The cooler under the register was unrefrigerated and full of personal sized bags of potato chips. To our left, a beverage case held both American and Mexican soft drinks.
The atmosphere at Burrito California is casual, the small dining room set up for a majority take out business. The food was tasty and I was happy to see some more unusual fare on the menu (Huaraches! Sopes! Non American soft drinks!). The appetizer plate with fresh veggies was an unexpected alternative to chips and salsa. Their menu includes homemade tamales and I was pleased enough with my huaraches to believe that those will be well worth trying as well. If you are in the neighborhood, stop in and give them a try.
Total for the meal: $16.33 (Includes one burrito, one hurrache, one Mexican Water, and one bottle of water)