Thursday, March 27, 2008

Finally, a decent burrito

Veggie friendliness: Four out of five stars

It's sort of terrible that a national chain restaurant is by far the best Mexican in the Boston area. But really, Chipotle's burritos are an order of magnitude better than any other place I've been in Boston. Anna's Taqueria is just bad, with no salsa options, cheese in American slice form and weird, tasteless vegetables that should not be in burritos. And their rice is not vegetarian. I liked the burritos at Piquante in Central Square, but Chipotle in the Dedham Mall is the only really decent burrito I've had since moving away from my beloved Illegal Pete's in Boulder.

Chipotle is veggie friendly too, which maybe isn't so authentic (the slogan at another Boulder Mexican place was "Praise the lard") but I'm not complaining. There are tasty sauteed peppers and onions, two kinds of vegetarian beans--pinto and black--and plenty of flavorful salsa options. And, the rice is just so yummy, with cilantro and lime. The tortillas are just right and they have the big warmer/steamer thing for them. The guacamole is also excellent. The only thing that could be improved is if they mixed all your burrito fillings together at the end before wrapping. But that was always what set Illegal Pete's apart, so if that's the only thing missing, I can happily eat Chipotle's burritos until my next Colorado visit.

Also, Chipotle is cheap and they have a big vat of real brewed iced tea. They're in Dedham, Somerville and Brookline that I know of in the Boston area so far.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Vintage's gnocchi is newfangled

UPDATE on 3/25: Apparently Vintage is now closed. It must have closed in the past week or of my fellow Restaurant Week diners drove by over the weekend and saw it was closed, and read that the restaurant had financial troubles. Sad!

Veggie friendliness: Three out of five stars

I can't believe how much I enjoyed eating at a steakhouse, but my food was really, really good at Vintage, in West Roxbury. I went during Restaurant Week, and couldn't get anything on the RW menu because it was almost entirely meat-based (there was one good looking salad, but they don't let you order just one part of the RW menu). I ordered a basic salad to start, with Boston lettuce and a tangy dressing--so delicious and pretty too. There's only one vegetarian entree on the menu, and it's not specifically described--it's just called "for the vegetarians" or something like that. The night I went it was a gnocchi with caramelized onions, peppers and fontina cheese. It wasn't a traditional gnocchi in little dumpling shapes; it was gnocchi dough formed into two spirals with the vegetables and cheese wrapped up inside, with a dab of sauce on the plate. It was really delicious and the texture was also great. The "gnocchi" part of the spiral was a little grainy, almost like polenta.

Vintage is a really nice place; it still feels pretty new and the atmosphere is not very Route 1 at all. We had great service too -- no funny looks from the waiter when asking veggie questions. I don't know if I'd go back there for a non-RW dinner since it really is meat-focused, and it's also pretty expensive. My entree was of course much cheaper than steak, but still over $20. But if I was dragged there by steakhouse-loving friends, I wouldn't be too upset about it.