Our 100 Favorite Dishes for 2013: No. 100, Bean-and-Cheese Burrito from Del Taco
Hey, kids: guess what time is it? It's time to restart that Long March known as 100 Favorite Dishes (INSERT YEAR). YEAH!!!
Hey, don't ding us for listicles: Weekly DataLab studies show ustedes love this gimmick, launched in honor of our coming Best Of issue. Besides, it is rather fun to do this for us Forkers--an opportunity to highlight dishes from restaurants we'll never full review, or secrets from old standbys. Anyhoo, let the march begin...
Yes, Del Taco is a chain. Yes, it's fast-food Mexican. Sí, it's an insult to include this in a listicle devoted to the best and brightest OC has to offer.
But as I wrote last year, Del Taco's bean-and-cheese burrito is not some Taco Bell monstrosity; it's edible history.
Per my quotage:
"Let's admit it, folks: Its simple burrito--not something mucked up with guac or beef or sour cream, just beans, melted yellow cheese, and red or green sauce--is as brilliantly Mexi as Zapata. It reminds me of the burritos I grew up with: just a flour tortilla, beans redolent of the refried tang, the creaminess of the cheese . . . and that's it. The sauce? Nothing more than a slight pique of the senses. Meat? Nah. Tortilla? Just the vessel for something filling, something comforting."
And I'll add a little bit more. Del Taco has left this burrito unchanged since its opening in 1964--and this burrito is descended from the burritos of Glen Bell of Taco Bell infamy. He, of course, stole the menu for his first Mexican restaurant from Mitla Cafe in San Bernardino. And the people who opened that restaurant were Mexican immigrants, meaning Del Taco's burrito is one of the last descendants of the original burrito to hit Southern California--not Chipotle footballs, but austere, beautiful things (during the 1960s, many restaurants called them "Poor Boys," because they were the cheapest full meal on the menu).
And to the present day, Del Taco takes pride in this burrito: beans refried daily, freshly shredded cheddar (no mix), and preposterously cheap--$1.08. I eat this burrito at least twice a week, and will so forever. And I'll end this review the same way I did last year: POUND SAND, TACO BELL!!!