Okay, we almost feel bad about posting this article.
We at the Tucson Homeskillet are not in the food blog game to put anybody down, smear against restaurants that we deem shameful and gross or even turn our nose up at places that make us mad because the service sucks as well as the food. If the place doesn't do it for us we just move on and focus on the stuff that does make us happy.
Yeah, we did feature what we knew to be the worst burrito in Tucson but...we didn't give out the name of the place and we never will. And, sorry, it was kind of funny.
That's sort of the case here.
Well, a lot of you have been asking if we could do this particular challenge and, yes, we did (with a heavy sigh) and to not let you down we went ahead and published the results. So without further ado, here is our take on a place that claims to have the best burger and burrito in Tucson!
(Apologies to those who know who we are talking about and more apologies to the place in particular...because you know who you are. But maybe this can be an inspiration to not ride on the results of a readers poll from years past. Just sayin'...)
|Well...the chips and salsa were good, so...that's a positive|
The Tucson Homeskillet has been meaning to do this piece for a while. Since winning a readers poll back in 2013 for Best Burger in Tucson, this casual Mexican concept up on Broadway also won the same poll for Best Burrito in 2015.
Best burrito and best burger in town? Now that, my friends and dear readers, is quite the boast in a city literally overflowing with amazing burritos and burgers. So on a rather hot afternoon, the Homeskillet crew rolled in to see if the food lived up to the hype.
|The mole was choco-chocked and that's about it|
The place itself is nice. Its clean with easy to follow instructions on how to order and a menu that is extensive without being overbearing. Thing is, it was high lunchtime on a Wednesday and the restaurant was nearly empty. Not always the best sign, especially for a eatery that is boasting the best burrito and burger in Tucson.
The best huh? Man, this establishment should be booming then. Lines out the door even. If you have huge banners outside advertising the fact that you make the ultimate burrito and burger you'd think folks would be beating at the doors and windows trying to get in.
Nope. Just us, two old ladies and an Asian man on his laptop who looked rather confused about something. Possibly his food.
|We give you: The Best Burrito in Tucson!|
We get to the counter and order the burger, the winner, medium rare, and the burrito, the winner's circle one as well.
Since there was three of us and two items didn't seem like enough, we also got the mole fries appetizer and the chicken flautas, because if you are a Mexican food joint and screw up flautas, you need to rethink what you're doing and just go into the pest control industry or something.
|And...the best burger?|
The first item up was the mole fries. Seemed like a decent enough start to the judging of the restaurant's bold claims. We love poutine and fries covered in a good spicy mole sauce sounded pretty good at the time seeing as we were all rather darn hungry.
Let's just say our stomachs were in control and definitely not the brain. Or tongue.
The mole was weird. No real flavor or spice but a definitive chocolate taste overcame the thick black gravy. It clung to the piping hot crispy fries for dear life much like caked mud on a boot. The dish just didn't make any sense. In fact, it just kind of made us sad. It was as if they melted down some Hershey's Kisses into a paste and sprinkled sesame seeds on top. Really odd and really flat.
"Maybe if I just keep powering through my tastebuds wont mind after a while," Chili said as he chomped another tarred up pile of fries.
Nope. It didn't help. So we left the bowl half consumed hoping the entrees would live up to all the hoopla.
|The presentation was nice and it stopped there|
The flautas were the next to arrive and, sadly, they didn't help much.
The side of rice was cooked nice and the greens were fresh, but the black beans (much like the mole) were gloppy and tedious, without any real flavor and kind of a pain to eat.
The worst though was the flautas themselves.
"Tastes like dog food," chimed She-Ra as she threw one down on the plate, laughing in spite of her spite. So I took a bite and confirmed her observation.
"Yeah," I said wincing. "This beef is terrible."
"Um, that's chicken," she reminded with a grin and grimace.
Oh yeah. Oh wow. Man, so far this place isn't doing us any proper. Oh no.
But the burrito and burger...c'mon, they have to be good, right? No...the best!
|Oh, there it is...yeah, it's kind of medium rare, if you squint|
Eventually the two winners of a Tucson reader's poll arrived.
The burrito looked really good and was presented nicely; cut in half and stacked on top of itself with some greens, radishes and salsa on the side. As did the burger, smothered in a chipotle aioli on a decent looking brioche bun and, yes, served with those fries. Sans mole.
But the results on the actual taste of both the (supposed) best burger and the best burrito in Tucson?
Not good. Sorry.
|Chili says: These fries put the poo in poutine|
First off the burger was not cooked medium rare, not even close. It was "cooked", that we knew, but it didn't have a red center until we got deep down into it, and then only if you looked hard enough for it. The bun was okay, the chipotle aioli was fine but the meat seasoning was not all that great and at the bottom of it all was a collection of mystery "greens".
They looked a bit like watercress, didn't really have a distinct flavor but one thing was for sure they were really tough, so much it made cutting the sandwich in half quite a chore. Was it...grass? It might have been grass. Anyway, the patty was juicy enough to pass for acceptable but it was a far cry from being the best burger in Tucson. By far! Most dive bars with kitchens and old school steakhouses put this meager meat flounder to shame. A lot has changed since 2013 and the Tucson burger game is a tough one to beat. Getting people to vote for you via social media seemed to have worked once but I doubt this'll hold up against the magnitude and magnificence of the burgers we have here today.
Might be time to take that banner down.
|Please let it end|
But what about the burrito?
Yeah, what about it?
The first thing we got was salt. It was really salty. Packed with grilled vegetables such as corn, carrots and red onions, it was also filled with grilled chicken, rice and black beans. And...so what? That's it? That's all you got? C'mon best burrito in Tucson.
It was bland. But salty.
How can this be the best burrito...in Tucson? TUCSON! We are basically Mexico and the Mexican food here in unreal. I've had amazing burritos from small carts parked outside of gas stations, burritos ten times better than this one, one that garnered a "readers poll best of" over three years ago. There was absolutely nothing outstanding about the burrito or the burger, in any capacity. There are way, way better options out there and waiting for you.
Trust us here.
See, we went into this assignment with a bit of hope; we wanted to like the burger and we wanted to like the burrito. A small family run establishment beaming about how they hold the trophy for best burger and best burrito in Tucson? Great! Let's see what you got.
Unfortunately we had to stop what we were doing and just call it a day. This challenge was a bit of a fail, so we left a bit grumpy, a little hungry, and crawled into the oven like car to try and find some immediate salvation.
Sorry little place up on Broadway but the Tucson Homeskillet didn't like your food. And good luck with holding onto the "Best Of" votes for that burger and burrito. We just...yeah.
|It says John on my shirt and that's where this food belongs|
Anyway, our salvation came in a large icy goblet filled with rum, gin, brandy and lots of fruit juices from a dark and cool lounge just up the street. The Scorpion Bowl at Kon Tiki put us back in order and put smiles back on our faces.
Huh...and the food here is good too. Did you know that?
But that is another story all together.
|This goblet of firewater made the bad man go away...temporarily|
Camera, Typing and (unfortunately) Eating
"Metal" Mark Whittaker
Early June, 2016