Elise and the Ravioli Restaurant Reviews #2: BURRITO BATTLES

Located a mere three hours away from the Mexican border, Camarillo, CA is host to a hub of authentic Mexican cuisine that has amassed a large following among the residents. Last weekend, we visited four local establishments in search of a conclusion to the long-disputed debate: who makes the best burrito?

To make the burritos comparable across the board, we ordered similar items from each restaurant. Omeed tackled the chicken burritos, while Elise ordered whatever constituted the vegetarian burrito option.

Stop 1: Olas Mexican Grill.

Photo by: Omeed Tavasoli

Omeed: Upon my first bites through the rather bland tortilla, I noticed a strange, yet pleasant sensation. A tidal wave of chicken juice crashed upon the shore of my jaw as I sawed my way through the surprisingly tender poultry. Proceeding the invasion of pollo, a crescendo of beans and rice clamored along my taste buds and coated my mouth with a rustic blend of numerous spices. However, after smacking my lips, I was left slightly unfulfilled by the burrito’s few ingredients. With its large size and cheap price of $4.95, the Olas burrito can best be described as a rather safe, yet, satisfactory attempt in comparison to the other burritos, giving it an overall score of 7.4/10.

Elise: Olas offered a wide range of contents in its no-meat burrito (a refreshing change from the common option of “beans and rice” or “rice and beans” at other joints): rice, beans, guacamole, pico de gallo, lettuce, and cheese. I have high respect for a burrito that has been grilled after its assembly-not only did it melt the cheese on the interior, but it also gave the tortilla a delightful crispness on two sides. The beans were slightly liquidy and the burrito lacked an overall zing of flavor; however, its diversity of ingredients, large size, and exceptional guacamole (best of the four restaurants, by far) earned Olas an overall score of 8.1/10.

Stop 2: Establos Meat Market.

Photo by: Omeed Tavasoli
Photo by: Omeed Tavasoli

Omeed: After brief confusion in paying for the burrito, Establos presented me with one of the best burritos I have ever devoured. With an already satiated appetite, I bit into the burrito expecting the same, banal organization of Mexican ingredients: Boy, was I wrong. Salsa and rice danced upon my palette as onions and pieces of chopped chicken playfully wrestled my taste buds. A spritz of lime amplified all of the ingredients and delivered a refreshing touch to the burrito. What I learned from this burrito is that if you love something, you have to let it go, and I let that burrito slip out of my hands, directly into my stomach. There isn’t much left to say about this burrito other than 10/10 would inhale again.

Elise: Establos made me wish that the phrase “you are what you eat” were true, because after taking a few bites, I decided that there was no higher aspiration in life than being as close to that burrito as possible. I wanted to cocoon myself in its tortilla and fall asleep in the grilled, greasy warmth. It was a simple bean, rice, and cheese number with guac; however, it was gigantic, contained flavorful Spanish rice, and came with a delightful little assortment of grilled peppers, limes, and radishes that added a distinctive zest to the meal. My only complaint was with the guacamole*; the smooth consistency and rather plain taste did nothing except make the bottom end slightly soggy. Nevertheless, the rest of the burrito’s sheer magnificence brought Establos’ overall score up to a whopping 9.4/10.

*(Since the day of the Burrito Battles, I returned Establos and ordered the same burrito without guac. Perfect 10.)

Stop 3: Taqueria El Tapatio.

Photo by: Omeed Tavasoli
Photo by: Omeed Tavasoli

Omeed: El Tapatio presented what I would call the Napoleon of Burritos as its promising demeanor gave way to a rather mediocre reality. The chicken was juicy but incredibly minute in flavor when compared to the overpowering salsa and spices. The rice and onion gave the burrito a pleasing texture, but, as I progressed through the burrito, I noticed the bites becoming more and more like mush. After about halfway through the meal, my hand was sopping in burrito juice, and I was forced to wrap my lunch in a displeasing “burrito diaper” as I struggled with the watery mess. If it weren’t for the overpowering and overflowing amounts of salsa, El Tapatio’s burrito would have been a truly bold counter to Establos’ presentation, but, alas, the reality is a wet one. 7.4/10

Elise: El Tapatio’s burrito told the centuries-old tale of wasted potential; my eating experience was drowned out by a tragic overabundance of salsa. I had to wrap napkins around the burrito because the juices kept on dripping onto my hands, which is fun for some people, but it completely distracted me from the rest of the contents. Aside from that, the burrito was the largest of the four and came with a promising assortment of beans, cheese, guacamole, and lettuce. In the future, perhaps we will meet again, and El Tap will dazzle me with an appropriately moist offering. For anyone trying El Tapatio, I recommend ordering the salsa on the side. Or bringing a poncho. Score: 6.9/10

Stop 4: Taco Bell

Photo by: Omeed Tavasoli

Omeed: After delving into the abyss that is Taco Bell, I was left with what can only be described as a serious mental-breakdown. Having savored so many great burritos, Taco Bell’s joke of a cuisine literally made me sick to my stomach and forced me to contemplate my life upon this seemingly hopeless earth. Existential Crisis/10.

Elise: I’ll admit, at this point my burrit-o-meter was suffering an imbalance from the three burritos that I taste-tested prior to our final stop, and the inauspicious listing of my “Cheesy Bean and Rice Burrito” on the dollar menu didn’t do much to raise my spirits. I secretly hoped that this underdog would blow me away; unfortunately, an unbearable soup of nacho cheese smothered the mush of beans and rice from the second bite (undercooked tortilla dominated the first). What’s more, the thing was the size of a banana (though a large banana, I suppose). In other words, I received what you’d expect from a dollar menu item at a fast food restaurant. Sorry Taco Bell die-hards. Regret/10.

The results of Burrito Battles 2015:

1st Place: Establos (19.4/20)

2nd Place: Olas (15.5/20)

3rd Place: El Tapatio (13.7/20)

Last-th Place: Taco Bell (Existential Crisis+Regret/20)