Food Gold: Southwest

Posted on Oct 27th, 2008 in Food Gold > Uncategorized by Mr. Goldbar

I’m sitting in the airport in Phoenix, where due to an unfortunate circumstance (I’m an idiot) I’ve arrived 4 hours early for my flight back to NYC.  In the meantime, I figured I would share some of the highlights from my recent trip to the southwest, namely, the Mexican food.

I think my appreciation of this south-of-the-border fare dates back to when Boca Grande opened down the street from my house in the early 90s.  I have a vivid memory of the first time I ate there and of the realization that THIS was a true burrito.  Not some taco night or Taco Bell bullshit, but a giant steamed tortilla filled with 100% quality ingredients wrapped and sealed up so tightly that you could throw it like a football.  Later on I learned that this style of burrito is known as the San Francisco, or Mission Burrito named after the Mexican-American district of that city.  You can sample a taste of such a burrito at Chipotle, but don’t expect it to be the real thing, as their rice is terrible and they don’t melt the cheese in the tortilla steamer, they put it on at the end so that its cold.  If your in San Francisco, I recommend Gordo or La Taqueria, but if you’re in the Boston area you should really check out Boca Grande, or the slightly inferior cousin Ana’s Taqueria.

But I digress… I arrived in El Paso after a long day of travel, hungry to get down with some of the local fare.  My host Joe and I headed over to Chico’s Tacos, a local chain that specializes in rolled tacos.  As you can see from the photo, these small fried corn tortillas filled with ground beef swim in a bath of mild tomato salsa, a unique presentation.  Not pictured is the extremely hot green chile sauce which you douse over the cheese mountain, creating an ideal spice / dairy ratio.  Also not pictured is the aftermath of my first bite, where the flimsy plastic fork pictured in the upper left melted on contact with the fry-o-lated taco ejecting a geyser of salsa onto my face, shirt and pants.  Regardless, these tacos were juicy, flavorful and altogether awesome.  Shout to Cosmo Baker who I know is a fan of Chico’s.

Then I djed in a club that someone tried to professionally burn down earlier that week, but this post is about food damnit!  The next afternoon we made a stop at Bonny’s Cafe before heading up to Albuquerque.  At Bonny’s I encountered a burrito unlike any I had tasted before.  First, it was extremely long (I’m gonna guess 14″) and filled only with one ingredient: Meat.  I included a normal sized straw in the photo to give a sense of scale.  There were a number of options on the menu, and I decided to go with Chicken Mole.  Basically the whole story was an unedibley large amount of shredded chicken in mole sauce wrapped inside a fresh flour tortilla.  The mole was quite tasty, if a little bland, the tortilla was quality.  The whole experience was a solid B with a little extra points for the novelty of the size, but points off because it was impossible to finish.  On our way north, we passed John Mcain’s entourage traveling the other direction (heading South, just like his campaign) and I had the honor to spend the night in Albuquerque in the same hotel as the next President of the United States (I don’t believe in jinxes, this is called positive thinking. GOBAMA!)

The dance party in Albuquerque was a lot of fun, but I was potentially more excited about a return visit to the world famous Frontier Restaurant.  I’d eaten there 5 years ago on a road trip, and I’ve basically thought about it every other month since then.  Frontier might be best known for there Krisyp Kreme-esque approach to the production of their home-made tortillas.  I ordered Huevos Rancheros topped with some of the city’s famous green chile, eggs over easy.  Now, I have to say that the experience was not what i remembered.  The tortillas were not quite as fluffy as I remembered and tasted a bit off, and the green chile wasn’t spicey enough.  Still, it was damn good meal and this place is a must stop if you ever happen to be in that city.

On Sunday it was off to Phoenix to play with the PRPL HRTS crew.  After settling in, my host Jacob and I went to dinner at this french restaurant where I ate an amazing burger with some french fries covered in truffle oil.  Unfortunately for this burger, it wasn’t made of mexcian food so It’s really not too relevant here.  Props to the crew in Phoenix for being extremely on top of their game; even though you guys had the worst Mexican food, you were the best party!  Shouts to my man Fashen who was in town and came out to see me do my thing.  Well, I’m still waiting in this airport, but I’m gonna sign off for now.  Perhaps I’ll report again soon with other food adventures.

I’ve never had this flavor of Lays before, and I don’t know if they have them in New York or not, but I HOPE THEY DO!  Chile Limón Lays are the new Chilli Cheese Fritos.  These chips were so good that they literally swept me off my feet.  The funny thing is, these don’t really test like southwest mex food.  In my opinion, they bear a much closer resemblance to Thai flavors.  Wow, i wish I had some of these right now.