Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Mission Burrito & The Burrito Mission

Note: For my full review of The Mission Restaurant, click here.

So if you haven't already noticed, I am on a mission to find the best burrito in Syracuse.

Pictured here is The Mission's Peurco Pibil Burrito with Refried Beans, topped with Pico de Gallo, with sides of Spanish Rice and Cabbage Salad. Guacamole and Sour Cream on the side as well.

Peurco Pibil Burrito: $12.50

The burrito meat and filling were both good - juicy, Yucatan style Shredded Pork with Achiote and Orange and creamy Refried Beans lining the interior - but everything else on the plate was generally blase. Dry and bland Spanish Rice, Pico de Gallo that was 99% diced tomatoes, Cabbage Salad that was just awful and tasted like it had been sitting around all day, and Guacamole that essentially tasted like pureed Avocados.

As a Burrito, it was mediocre and as a meal, it was a legitimate let-down.

After visiting The Mission over the last several months, I've jumped onto this theory that its concepts are well-thought and have good intentions, but the food can come out completely bland and uninspiring. I usually end up leaving disappointed 50% of the time after eating here, and the other 50% of the time, I really enjoy my experience and wonder why I don't go back more often. It's such an appealing place, with a cool vibe, originality, and a creative menu, but such a let-down when the food doesn't suffice - perhaps because they have all of the right ingredients of aesthetics, but are missing some ingredients in their cuisine. For instance, would it kill them to add just a bit more cilantro, onions, and lime juice to the Pico de Gallo and Guacamole? God forbid we want some actual flavor in there...

I shouldn't be so hard on them. I just get picky after eating there sometimes. Mainly because some of the food could be elevated with just a few simple ingredients.

At any rate, I would say that The Mission has the best burrito from restaurants that I've reviewed on this blog thus far. A bit too early for an in-depth list, but the ranking would go something like...

1) Peurco Pibil Burrito at The Mission Restaurant
2) Smothered Burrito at Steve's Cantina & Grill
3) California Burrito at El Canelo

This also begs the question: is there a place to get a burrito in Syracuse where I do not need a knife and fork?


NYCO said...

Yes, I have always found that to be true of The Mission and others have said so too: it's such a frustrating near-miss. Good restaurant... could be GREAT if they'd just focus better on the food.

Owen O'Neill said...

I'm really enjoying the reviews you've posted on this blog thus far. And your reaction to the Mission is identical to mine - great concept, interesting menu, nice people, cool space.... but it just doesn't consistently hit the mark.

I've been there three or four times - initially my own choice and subsequently when I accompanied other people who wanted to eat there. I never had a truly bad meal but the food was so uninspired in terms of seasoning etc. that I was never excited about returning (but did so to be polite to those who invited me).

If you're looking for a true West Coast style taqueria burrito then by all means venture up to the edge of Lyncourt to Ponchito's Taqueria (near the intersection of Teall Ave and Court Street). I've had burritos at taquerias and taco trucks on the West coast and in other cities with large Mexican populations where the food seemed to be very authentic. Ponchito's compares favorably to those places. It is a Formica table / plastic fork / takeout kind of place but very good.

You should also check out Alto Cinco on Westcott Street. Pricier than Ponchito's and a much wider ranging menu. Best described as a Mexican "inspired" bistro but the food is very good and the atmosphere very cool. It has more of a hip big city bistro feel than any other place in Syracuse and the food measures up to the vibe. Be there when they open for dinner or go late - it's is insanely crazy crowded just about every night and you'll nearly always have to wait for a table.

JoeBass123 said...

glad you are enjoying the blog.

i'll have to check out ponchito's as it sounds relatively authentic - plastic fork and all. and they get bonus points in my book for not only being open until 3am on weekends, but for also delivering. hello!

i've been to alto cinco a few times already (just haven't been able to do a formal review on here yet). i really like it there, even though it tends to get crowded on most occasions. yes, it's not exactly "mexican"... "mexican-inspired" is probably a bit more accurate. or maybe even "cal-mex". at any rate, i need to get over there again soon and put up a review on here.

JoeBass123 said...

furthermore, if someone was looking to open a middle to higher end mexican restaurant (nice, authentic, sit-down, maybe with some vegetarian offerings), i would like to think that there's is a big market for it in syracuse. as there really aren't any good, authentic, moderately priced, sit-down mexican restaurants in central new york.

Jim Johnson said...

Ponchito's in Eastwood. Very good burritos. If you're brave and your stomach can handle something close to the size of a football, try to tackle the super-burrito.

john said...

Burrito Jonz in Utica is coming to Syracuse. They are looking for a spot now. It is very good. I do business in Utica with Home Depot so I eat there whenever I am in town. It is just down the road. Here is the website

Josef Lorenz said...

i'm in the utica area several times a week but i haven't been to burrito jonz yet. i've heard mixed reviews. i went to burrito blues cafe in new hartford a few days ago (it's in a shopping plaza... the name escapes me...). the burrito was decent. nothing spectacular. i would go back to try some other stuff on the menu.

Josef Lorenz said...

oh and thanks for the heads up about them moving to 'cuse! :)

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