About a year ago, the old A&W location on Washtenaw that had been vacant for years had a sign out front advertising that a burrito joint called Pacific Beach Burritos would soon move in. This caught my eye because I am a burrito fanatic. They’re like beauty wrapped in a tortilla sleeping bag. It saddens me that I don’t have a place around here to get a quality burrito to go. Sure, we have Qdoba, Chipolte, Panchero’s, and Moe’s within a 15 mile radius, but no actual burrito joints. Big Ten Burrito is great and all, but it’s a ways to drive for me. About three months ago the place finally opened and I was there.
The following is a multiple part piece. I have been to Pacific Beach Burritos several different time and have had mixed feelings on the food I have received each time. The food given to me during one of my visits was enough to make me never go back again. I decided to return today to give them one final shot. They had one final opportunity to earn my love. This sounds like some sort of VH1 reality show, but hey.. I take my food seriously. Especially my burritos.
During my first visit to Pacific Beach Burritos , I noticed several things right away. First, there were several cars parked right out front, but no actual customers in the place. Apparently these first few spots out front are for the employees. One of them drives a Mercedes. Weird. Second, there is a salsa bar. To me, salsa bars = success. Give me the freedom to sample every kind of salsa you have and control how much goes on my food and you might have a loyal customer just because of that. Bland food? That’s OK. I’ll cover it in salsa and things should be alright between us. Third, the cooks in the back are wearing actual white chef coats. There’s not just one guy wearing a T-shirt in the back rolling up your burritos. There’s three or four guys in full chef attire making burritos and whatever else they do back there.
The menu consists of burritos, tacos, tortas, combo platters, and salads. The menu is simple but the few options that they have are very diverse. There are 13 different types of burritos, 7 different types of tacos, 3 different tortas, 6 combination platters, and 4 salads. There’s a side section where you can add quesadillas, nachos and other items to your meal for only a few dollars more. You can also add items from the “extras” menu, such as mexican carrots, tortilla chips, jalapenos, pico de gallo, or guacamole. Most of the items are available with Carne Asada steak, chicken, or pork. The menu is very impressive and is available on their website.
I ordered the Macho Ypsilanti Burrito which consists of Carne Asada Steak, pico de gallo, rice, and beans. I figured this was the best burrito for me to try because it consisted of ingredients that I was most familiar with. If this standard issue burrito was good, I figured I would return and sample some of their other menu items. I stopped by the salsa bar and picked up some of the spicy and mild salsas, as well as their green salsa verde. I was impressed so far.
The burrito I got was good, but nothing great. The size was large, but nothing close to the burritos I had heard stories about on the West Coast. The steak was very tender and juicy, but really lacked flavor. The fillings were light, and most of the burrito consisted of tortilla. The most disappointing part was that the salsas completely lacked flavor, as well. Not only was the spicy salsa not spicy, but it really didn’t taste like anything at all. The mild had a little flavor, but was almost as bland as the spicy. The salsa verde was the same story. The meal ended up being rather bland and I was not impressed. I was actually rather disappointed. I figured I would have to give them another shot at a later date.
About a week later, I returned to give Pacific Beach Burritos another shot to earn my love. I decided to switch it up and order the Chorizo Burrito, Enchildas Combo Platter and a Shredded Pork Burrito. This may seem like a lot of food for one person, but I wanted to give them every chance to impress me. Unfortunately I didn’t bring my camera so you’ll just have to trust me. The Chorizo Burrito consists of chorizo, of course, and eggs. Pretty simple. What I got was a gigantic burrito stuffed with about 99.85% chorizo with the rest being egg. It was completely overwhelming and I couldn’t even get through a quarter of it. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some chorizo but as the only component in a burrito? It just seemed completely ridiculous to me. The Enchiladas Platter was/were ONE ENCHILADA that was the size of a frozen taquito that one might purchase at the grocery store, and topped with a flavorless red sauce and a drizzle of sour cream. It was horrible. Somehow, the pork burrito topped each of them. The Pork Burrito was the same as the Chorizo Burrito, in that it was all pork. This would be excusable if the pork is flavorful and juicy, but it wasn’t. It was tough and lacked any flavor whatsoever. I ended up taking two bites and throwing it away. I immediately wished I had brought my camera, because Pacific Beach Burritos would have felt a Tio’s like wrath on Epic Portions. I swore this would be my last visit.
Recently, I decided to give the place one more shot. I’m not sure why, but I wanted to like Pacific Beach Burritos. The place the kind of charm that I look for in a joint and I had been waiting forever for it to open. It couldn’t be that bad, could it? We would find out…
This particular visit, I decided to order the San Diego Burrito, which consists of Carne Asada steak, french fries, cheese and sour cream, and three Rolled Tacos with chicken and guacamole on the side. I asked for several cups of the hot sauce hoping they had adjusted their recipe due to massive amounts of customer complaints.
The burrito was a little better, but it still shared that bland taste with the other burritos I had tried. The steak was once again juicy and tender, the fries were crunchy and made a nice addition, the cheese was a little heavy(and yellow), and the sour scream was a pretty scarce. It was filling and tasted pretty good, but it just wasn’t what I had expected when I first saw the place. The salsa was once again tasteless and not impressive at all.
The rolled tacos weren’t too impressive either. Actually, they were rather terrible. They resembled the same microwave style taquitos that came with the enchiladas. They were tiny and sprinkled with what looked like just a bunch of random toppings(tomatoes, onions, ect.). I ordered mine with chicken because I had stuck to the Carne Asada in every other item I had ordered and was horribly disappointed by it. I guess it’s rare that you actually get chicken that’s anything special at a Mexican or Southwest joint, but this chicken just wasn’t good. The beef made up for a lack of flavor with juiciness and the chicken completely lacked that. It was dry and tasteless. I will say that the guacamole was good stuff, which made the tacos edible.
It’s been a pretty disappointing few visits to Pacific Beach Burritos. I had very high hopes for this local burrito joint, but every thing I’ve eaten has either been very average or fallen completely fat. I can’t decide whether or not I will give them another chance, but the fact that they’re about to start offering delivery will probably mean I’ll give them a chance for redemption for the simple fact that it will be convenient. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not terrible and I would recommend that you give them an opportunity. I just wasn’t horribly impressed by them.