Papalote: Bargain Burritos in NoPa
Papalote Mexican Grill
1777 Fulton Street @ Masonic
Papalote’s known for its fresh and healthy Mexican food. The original one (that I know of) is on 24th & Valencia. (Thanks to the resident ABM who took me there). Though that time I got a Mole Taco and felt it didn’t taste that authentic compared to the fare in Southern California, this time I ordered a basic Pollo Burrito with black beans and a spinach tortilla for $5.45.
I think this burrito was a bit small for my usual “cheap AND huge” award. (The test is if I can finish it in one sitting, or if I get to save a 1/3-1/2 for another meal.) However, here’s what impressed me about it:
- The chicken breast for my burrito was grilled on the spot. No scooping of pre-chopped and unseasoned chicken from a bucket.
- Yes, the chicken was seasoned in something that gave it a slightly more orange tint…but it was good.
- I could choose the type of beans to go into my burrito without extra charge. (Black, to try to stay healthy)
- I could also choose the type of tortilla. Some places charge extra for picking essentially a tortilla with a tint of color in it.
- They try to keep costs down. There was no salsa bar where I could make off with cups of “free” toppings. I was given some excellent smoky salsa to go. And the chips were scooped into my brown paper takeout bag. And they charge you $1 if you need to charge for your meal and it’s under $10. How’s that for efficiency?
If you have a big appetite and are looking for value, I’d steer you to Cocina Poblana, which I reviewed earlier this year. For $0.80 – $2.00 more, depending on which beast is in your burrito, you can get a huger one. Along with that salsa bar (which you’re already secretly paying for).
Is it as legit as some other Mexican burrito joints? Well, I cringed when the Gen Y-er in front of me scruffily requested the “Paul Oh” burrito. (That’s a phonetic butchering of the word “pollo” which is pronounced “POY-yoh”, which stands for “chicken”.) Dude, it’s California, and it’s chicken. The El Pollo Loco chain should have educated enough people about that!