I love a good burrito...
When I moved from Santa Monica, CA to New York, I was worried I'd miss out on my Mexican fix which is a staple in SoCal. I'm so addicted to Mexican (the good kind) I'll search for it in every nook and cranny.
One of the first burrito bars I went to was this place called BurritoVille, recommended by a friend who used to live in the city.
It was very industrial, with exposed brick walls, vintage Mexican posters, and a limited menu to ensure freshness.
They also had their own drink of Mango Lemonade, which I really enjoyed.
The portions were quite substantial, the burrito was filling, and the taste was spot on Mexican. I was used to the Mexicali flavors of light salsas and optional rice or beans, but that's coz I'm a La Salsa brat.
So now in Manila, I think I've met BurritoVille's counterpart in Ristras Mexican Grill
Located in J. Abad Santos St. by Wilson St. in San Juan, Ristras is another culinary creation from Chef Robbie Goco, the man behind one of my favorite Greek restaurants, Cyma.
It's a little like Chipotle in the US, wherein you order at the counter, and they make your order ala minute (by the minute). It's a little bit self service, but it's not so bad since they deliver your order at the table.
The place is small and cozy, with black&white&red photos with emphasis on peppers, which is the inspiration for the resto name which means dried chili pepper contraptions for drying.
Much like the wall decor here. I hope none of that chili goes to my food, it looks toxic!
There are several items on the menu, but the main specialty is their burrito, which can be converted to a Fajita burrito, naked burrito, chimichanga, and other variations. Choices choices...
You can customize your Burrito from the tortilla to the rice, down to the sauces and meats. Whole wheat or flour tortilla? Cilantro-lime or chorizo-brown rice? Pinto or vegetarian black beans? Red or green chili? What kind of meat do you want? Carne asada, pollo, barbacoa, carnitas? The options seemed endless.
Then they had the beverage chiller which had a selection of Mexican cerveza and other drinks, I decided to go on the healthy route since I know Ristras Burritos are a mouthful.
I decided upon the Hobury Wheatgrass drink, and ... GAAaaaaaCK!! Putrid! I mean, I drink wheatgrass on a daily basis, but this was sickly sweet, had no sense of wheatgrass whatsoever, and had other juices on it that made it worse than cough syrup. FAIL.
To cleanse my memory of that awful drink, we started off with some Chips & Salsa, since I wanted guacamole but they ran out... You know how much I lllurve guac! The salsa was on the watery side, with good flavor, but was not chunky as I prefer it and didn't really hold onto the tortilla chip. I did like the blue corn chips in the mix. Tres rustico.
I ordered the Barbacoa Burrito with Chorizo Brown Rice.
Barbacoa is shredded beef simmered with onion, chipotle, adobo, cumin, cloves, garlic and oregano cooked for hours till it becomes like pulled pork with a deep spicy flavor. It had a really substantial heat to it that I enjoyed... YUM!
Mr. S ordered the Carnitas Burrito
Ristras' Carnitas is naturally raised pork that's seasoned with thyme, bay leaves, orange juice, cracked black pepper-seawood and then braised for hours til it is tender and fibrous. I thought I had the better burrito, but the Carnitas had such a balance of spices that complemented the sweetness of pork. It felt like being back in Burritoville eating one of their hefty burritos.
And if you didn't realize it already, Ristras' burritos are GINORMOUS due to the fact that the tortilla is 15 inches in diameter, to hold all the stuffing in the burrito. Mr. S is just holding half... and he looks like he's ready to get defeated.
The result of 2 big burritos= 2 doggy bags for ToT & Mr. S!
A word of caution: The burritos are filling as rocks, and diners tend to take their time so that they can try to eat as much of it. I just came from the gym, so I didn't wanna push it.
But if you ARE ready to push it, why not take the Man vs. Burrito Challenge? Finish a 2.5kg Macho Burrito in less than 90 minutes, and your name gets bragging rights on this board + a T-shirt AND your burrito free! If you tap out, you have to pay up to a thousand for your megaburrito! Or what about Man vs. Burrito? If you can beat the record time in eating the 800g burrito (current record: 1minute 55 seconds), you get a FREE burrito as long as you're the record holder... Oh man. It took me about 30 minutes to finish a half of a burrito, so I don't know how that dude did it in less than 2 minutes.
And I know this sounds creepy, but this server is the BEST! He was so helpful, always with a smile, and when i asked for foil to wrap my burrito (coz in Cali we fix our own takeout), he helpfully offered to do it for me. I mean, it's hard to find good service in small establishments and this dude really caught my attention. I tipped even if it was self service :)
And the best part? Ristras is right across SereniTea... Double Trouble!
Bring your Burrito Belly on to Ristras!
J. Abad Santos corner Lopez Jaena, San Juan
+632 748 7519