A burrito for two

dscn3398I’ve seen a lot of burritos in my day, but when the waiter at Taqueria y Fonda la Mexicana (968 Amsterdam Ave., Manhattan–map) in Morningside Heights placed a giant carnitas burrito in front of me, I was momentarily speechless. It may not have been big enough to be mistaken for a terrorist’s weapon, but it could easily have passed for a body builder’s forearm.

Once you tackle the challenge of how to get it in your mouth, the results are heavenly. The pulled spicy pork is tender and meaty, offset perfectly by rice and black beans. With the addition of three different salsas–red, green, and spicy avacado–that come with your gratis tortilla chips, the burrito has just the right kick and plenty of flavor.

The burrito will run you about $9, but have no fear. With the tortilla chips to back it up, the package is easily enough to fill two people. And the hole-in-the-wall decor of the restaurant belies excellent service, generosity, a wide range of authentic fare, and even a classy glass of wine for $4.

Burrito bribery: Free Chipotle next Wednesday

chipotle_burritoHere at the Penny Palate I like to feature the authentic over the Americanized, the little guy over the big chain. But sadly enough, two little words are enough to send my scruples packing: free burrito.

According to New York Magazine, Chipotle will celebrate the opening of its final location of the year by handing out free burritos at the new branch in Murray Hill (274 Madison Avenue at 39th St–map). The giveaway happens next Wednesday, December 10, between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.

If you’re a die-hard corporation hater, look at it this way: Chipotle is bleeding money for nine hours in hopes of luring you and your wallet back for more. What better way to stick it to the man than to take his freebie and walk?


Does this tortilla make me look fat?

When pennywatcher Claire G recommended a mythical $3 burrito I assumed one of the following had to be true:

1.    It was the size of a fingerling potato.
2.    It contained only rice. Maybe a few beans.
3.    It made customers horribly ill.

burrito1But after ordering and savoring a delicious burrito and waiting an entire week for any adverse effects to materialize (they didn’t), I can tell you that Spanish Harlem’s Tacolandia (2131 3rd Avenue, Manhattan–map) is a cheap eater’s hidden treasure.

In this single room hole-in-the-wall, you can watch the women at the counter stuff a tortilla with so much meat (we recommend the spicy pork), rice, beans, lettuce, tomato, and sauce that its innards inevitably explode out the bottom onto your plate—the plastic forks and knives aren’t just for show. What the bulbous giant loses in presentation points it gains back in spicy flavor.

If you get burrito-ed out, try tacos for $2 or huaraches and tortas for $4. No matter what you choose, it’s near impossible to spend more than $5 on a meal, unless you want to come out looking as over-stuffed as your burrito.

A romantic taco at Sunset

mThis far from the border, authentic Mexican food is harder to come by than a seat on the rush hour 4 train. But the Mexican community in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park has proven that, in fact, you can take it with you.

The best of the barrio is Tacos Matamoros (4508 5th Avenue, Brooklyn–map), where you can load up on delicious tacos for $1-2 a piece. It’s a homey family restaurant that’s great for a casual meal. And it’s just a block from Sunset Park itself, so on a nice day you can grab your tacos to go, spread out on the grass, and actually watch the sun set.

tacosMatamoros boasts a vast range of meat fillings to sample. The tastiest options are the pork—carnitas (spicy), al pastor (rotisserie), and chorizo (sausage). But you can also experiment with different flavors of chicken and beef. And if you’re feeling adventurous, try the crispy and salty sensations that are the tripa, lengua, and cabeza. That’s tripe, tongue, and brain. Remember, we’re in a recession. Why let those tasty morsels go to waste?