With Nick Foote, Layout Editor
Anchorage is a melting pot of cultures, especially where food is concerned. There’s everything from Italian to Thai and classic American to Indian, and this week, The Northern Light checked out Mexican food. Anchorage Food Quest part two features local chicken burritos.
Burritos sound easy to make — and they are — but making them stand out takes both skill and an eye for detail. TNL judged the five burritos we sampled based on the flavor of the chicken, the meat to filling ratio, the quality of the tortilla, overall taste, presentation and cost.
5. La Mex: Chicken Burrito - While one of the cheaper burritos in town, it certainly isn’t a quality one. The burrito is tiny, smaller than some gas station burritos, and costs $8.75. The only thing that comes with the burrito (which was just plopped on a plate haphazardly) is the restaurant’s complimentary chips and salsa. In addition to being small, the tortilla is mushy on the bottom (from runny salsa) and a little burned on the top from grilling. And while there is plenty of tasty shredded chicken on the inside, the complete lack of rice or beans guarantees the burrito at La Mex’s Spenard location a solid fifth place.
4. Burrito Factory: Large Chicken Burrito - Burrito Factory is a locally owned burrito joint hidden inside the Chevron on the corner of Boniface and Northern Lights. At $7.99, it’s the cheapest burrito and not a bad size for the price, but it doesn’t include any extras. Unlike La Mex’s burrito though, it includes both beans and rice on the inside. The salsa is a bit runny, and so makes the tortilla moist and sticky. And, while the salsa delivers a delightfully unexpected kick, it also carries all the flavor of the burrito, outshining everything else. The shredded chicken is also a bit dry and tough to chew. All in all though, it isn’t too bad and is worth visiting.
3. Gallo’s: Deluxe Chicken Burrito - The Gallo’s near Dimond and Arctic has a fairly good burrito, with moist chicken that stands out as a key flavor, rather than a hidden one. The burrito, which costs $10.25, is also stuffed with beans, but very few; it is mostly chicken, borderline too much. The salsa is mild and runny, and makes the tortilla too moist, but is tasty nevertheless. What killed the experience of this burrito was the 30-minute service time in the virtually empty restaurant and the unprofessional behavior of the server, who threw the menus down and walked away, not even staying long enough to seat his customers. If you plan on going to Gallo’s for a burrito, go to the one on Dimond and Old Seward instead.
2. Taco King: Pollo Burrito - The Taco King on Tudor is a staple for students who live on campus, both because they deliver and because they are well within walking distance. Thankfully, their burritos are worth the walk. The Pollo Burrito is stuffed with refried beans, lots of chicken, cilantro, cheese and onions. The dish includes sides of both rice and beans, making the $9.75 bill more than worth it. The chicken is moist, but cut rather than shredded; there is a lot of it, too. The tortilla is warm and soft rather than moist and soggy, despite being coated in sauce. The onions are mostly raw, making their flavor a hint too strong, but they add a nice crunch to the burrito’s texture that is refreshing. College kids rejoice — good burritos can be found less than a mile from the dorms.
1. Bear Tooth Theatre Pub: Chicken Colorado Burrito - By far the best burrito in town is located at Bear Tooth. The $8.95 burrito comes with tortilla chips and is stuffed with shredded chicken, rice and cheese, and is a monster in size. It is easily the fattest burrito of the bunch, and while there is definitely more rice than chicken, the rice has a nice southern flavor that blends well with the chicken, and adds a different enough texture to keep it interesting. The chicken itself is a bit spicy, but not overly so, and is shredded thickly enough to be enjoyable. The tortilla is dry but warm, and doesn’t stick to the roof of your mouth; if anything there’s a bit too much tortilla, as if a smaller one should have been used. While the chips are a bit boring as a side, this burrito is designed to be a hands-only food eaten in a movie theater, which makes it more acceptable.
Be sure to tune in to the next issue of TNL, where we will be examining local hot dog stands for the best reindeer dog. If you have a favored hot dog cart, please check out our Facebook page and let us know which one!