In the vernacular of food marketing, everything is the “undisputed” this or “most amazing” that you’ve ever or never indulged in.
And while we’ve grown immune to the siren song of retail temptations, unsubstantiated menu claims still grab our attention.
Which is why when we noticed that Barracks Row poultry purveyor Chicken Tortilla claims to have the “biggest burrito in Washington, D.C.,” we immediately donned our fact-checker hat.
Rather than gorging ourselves on every oversized, condiment-leaking creation in town, we elected to measure Chicken Tortilla’s two-handed “burrazo” against a half-dozen of its most portable peers, a prerequisite that eliminated most sit-down joints. (And assured that our dry cleaner will make a killing this month.)
For the sake of comparing apples to apples, only carne asada offerings were evaluated. And the field was deliberately left open to accommodate kitchens providing the highest quality (top-shelf ingredients, artful execution), value (most generous portion for the price) and variety (burrito selection, diversity of add-ons), or any combination thereof.
The signature burrazo ($8.95) served as the baseline. Given that this place is more Peruvian chicken joint than Mexican stronghold, expectations were, at best, medium. But as staff began assembling the overly generous meal, the excitement began to build.
Chicken Tortilla staff started with a freshly pressed 12-inch flour tortilla, then piled on heaping spoonfuls of steamed white rice, tender pintos, cubed grilled steak, roasted corn, diced tomatoes, sliced jalapenos and sour cream. Once complete, they don’t fold so much as smash the mammoth construction in half, rolling and wrestling it into the shape of a small medicine ball. (Staff estimates a fully dressed burrazo weighs about 1 pound.)
Their deliberation hit home as soon as we pierced the bulging shell. Once punctured, the only real alternative is to wolf down as many mouthfuls as possible before the floppy framework fully disintegrates. We tried desperately to stay ahead of the unwieldy meal but still witnessed chunks of cilantro-covered beef (meaty and flavorful) and slivers of sensory-jabbing jalapenos (scintillating) sliding through our fingers.
VERDICT: solid starting point
1100 Eighth St. SE; 202-543-190
Open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday.
Part of the once widespread chainlet, the Capitol Hill arm of Burrito Brothers has branched out significantly from its narrowly tailored predecessor. Where drunken club-goers previously had to settle for just a few gut-busting selections, patrons today can choose from a rainbow of specialty wraps (whole wheat, jalapeno, spinach, tomato or multigrain) and more substantial fillings (from plain eggs to multi-ingredient omelets at breakfast to tilapia for dinner).