Mexican rice, pinto beans, chicken, plenty of sour cream, cheese – the staple of my student diet.
Burrito bars have taken Dublin by storm and have established themselves as a cornerstone of student food and socializing. To say that I like burritos would be to say that Cristiano Ronaldo likes the odd look in the mirror. And what I have learned from my obsession is that burritos have five important factors: choice of filling, salsas, aesthetics, atmosphere and, most importantly for you, value. I’ve embarked on a journey across Dublin’s burrito bars to individually assess them for you and rate them on a spicy spice-o-meter. Whether you’re a seasoned burrito veteran or a meek fresher who has never before dipped a toe into Mexico’s finest export since tortilla chips, this article is for you.
My first port of call was one close to home – Tolteca on Suffolk Street. Tolteca was the first place I tasted the creamy mixture of bean, sour cream and cheese, and so it holds a special place in my heart. Only a brief walk from Trinity’s Nassau Street entrance, Tolteca’s waiting line was about five minutes long, which was the shortest of any bar with a queue that I visited. They hosted a wide range of chicken, pork, steak, barbacoa beef, vegetarian and even vegan options to choose from. I chose chicken with white rice, pinto beans, sour cream, cheese, spicy salsa and nachos crunched up inside. For anyone who hasn’t tried it, ‘crunch’ inside a burrito is like putting chocolate sauce on ice cream – basically, making a great thing even greater. The total came to €6.95 using the student deal which includes a drink (refillable on the sly) and a loyalty system which gifts a free burrito after eight orders. The salsa was spicy and flavourful but, although the busy atmosphere was enjoyable, the chairs were hard, the burrito was small and the staff were rather rude. I’ll leave them with three out of five chillies on the spice-o-meter.
“The mango salsa’s sweetness contrasted beautifully with the sweet potatoes’ savoury flavour, leaving me with what can only be described as an orgasmic taste.”
Keeping close to home, Dawson Street’s Little Ass Burrito Bar was next – a tiny shop with a burrito rich in flavour. Abandoning the usual Subway-like ordering style, Little Ass keeps a set menu with added extras. The queue was non-existent and I ordered myself a Cinco de Fryo with crunch – a chicken burrito with sweet potato and a mango salsa. The mango salsa’s sweetness contrasted beautifully with the sweet potatoes’ savoury flavour, leaving me with what can only be described as an orgasmic taste. Little Ass has little or no seating inside and out but Britney’s classic Hit Me Baby One More Time was playing which is enough to sum up the atmosphere. The student deal for €6 gives them four chillies on our spice-o-meter, which has been brought down only by their lack of seating.
Mama’s Revenge at the end of Nassau Street (for all of you Hamilton science geeks) was next. A 10 minute queue was worth the wait for the nicest vegetarian burrito I have ever tasted. Decorated like a secluded local bar in Mexico, it gave a homely vibe and the amiable attitude of the staff was a lovely addition. The student deal came to €5 with spicy salsa, and pop hits from Brown Eyed Girl to David Guetta’s Sexy Chick provided an upbeat atmosphere and leaves many Trinity students’ favourite burrito bar with four and a half chillies on the spice-o-meter. Every 10th burrito free on their loyalty card was the icing on the cake.
If you’ve been enjoying some afternoon €2 pints up in Dicey’s on Harcourt Street then a trip to Burritos and Blues on Camden Street nearby may be worth your while. While their €6 student burrito with a drink is great value for money and classy jazz music created a jovial atmosphere, the salsa was bland, the seats were plastic and hard, and the options were limited. Although my steak burrito was creamy and soft, the burrito wasn’t mixed enough which led to one side being entirely rice and the other side entirely steak. A lack of crunch and a loyalty system leaves them with just two chillies out of five.
Moving to the northside, Boojum on Millenium Quay is not to be messed with. A wait of nearly 15 minutes around dinner time started me off on a bad note but the large choice of chicken, pork, barbacoa beef, chorizo, chilli con carne and vegetarian options, followed by a sizeable burrito, quickly turned my mood around. I paid €7.25 for my student burrito and a drink with a loyalty stamp. If you collect 10 stamps then you can avail of a free burrito, while 40 stamps gets you a Boojum addict t-shirt. The high bar stools, loud rock music and the artwork painted on the restaurant walls creates the cool hipster but not too hipster atmosphere that Trinity students love. They even stock Arizona Iced Tea for those of you feeling A E S T H E T I C. Despite having no outside seating, the waiting time, lack of crunch and distance from college, I’m awarding this fine eatery with four chillies, although on any other day I may have given it five – my burrito was that good .
My concluding burrito bar was Saburritos which earned a whopping 0 chillies – €9.50 for my burrito and drink and a sick feeling afterwards. I would avoid this place at all costs and stick to the nicer (let’s face it) Southside burrito bars. The closer to college the better.