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Created: The Slugkiller

June 18, 2010

I’m a big fan of Chipotle, but I like to try and keep an open mind.  There are people out there, perhaps you are even one of them, living in towns without a bona fide taqueria who prefer Moe’s.  But try as I may, I just have never had a good burrito at Moe’s.

Perhaps, I thought, I was ordering wrong.

Certainly that seemed to be what the two off-duty Moe’s employees were implying when I sat down next to them with my Art Vandalay.  For those who don’t speak Moe’s, Art Vandalay is the name of their vegetarian burrito.  Honestly, most of their meat just sketches me out.

Moe’s has all kinds of wacky names for their food.  Their loaded burrito is the Homewrecker.  Another option is the Joey Bag of Donuts.  I still don’t have a solid understanding of the ordering scheme; it is a thousand times worse than trying to order coffee at Starbucks.

Anyhow, I asked these two young men if they would brainstorm with me, and together perhaps we could come up with the ultimate Moe’s burrito.  The idea that was I would order it on my next visit.  Being full of passion (and possibly beer as well) they enthusiastically agreed.

Here is what we came up with.

The filling had to be the pulled pork.  Even though it comes delivered in giant plastic bags, which are then steam heated, it was considered to be tastier and less salty than the beef or chicken.

We all agreed that certain proteins called for certain beans.  The duo was dismayed that I had chosen black beans for my Art Vandalay, and I appreciated their perspective.  But they also understood my choice when I told them I look to see what is the largest tub of beans on the burrito line, as that is generally an indicator of what type of bean a joint does best.  However when it came to the ultimate Moe’s burrito, it was a unanimous decision that pintos work better with pork.

Now here is where it gets weird.  I was told, “Instead of cheese, get queso.”

It took a few minutes to untangle this riddle, but Moe’s has something that may or may not be cheese, but is certainly called queso.  It is a warm white cheesy sauce that typically goes on top of nachos, and can be ordered on the side.  The stuff has a cult following.  It is tucked far away from the grated cheese on the burrito assembly line, and getting it in a burrito is unusual to be sure.  But my advisors insisted this was absolutely essential for getting the best out of Moe’s.

Guacamole and salsa were also required.  Sour cream was optional.  I thought we were done.  But there was one last thing.

Mushrooms?

Just talking about the sautéed mushrooms made one of the guys swoon.  He actually swooned.  And he didn’t seem to be the swooning type.  I though there was a fighting possibility he was going to start drooling.  This fellow loved the mushrooms.  I was advised that they cost extra, but it would be well worth it.  How could I say no?

We didn’t spend any time thinking of a name for the thing.  That only came to me after I ordered and ate the thing on Wednesday as part of All Over Albany’s lunch week.  There should be a picture of the monstrosity going up on AOA sometime around noon today.

Holy cow, that thing was salty.  Pretty much it was all salty.  And I love salt.  I salt everything.  Salted caramel.  Salted chocolate.  But this was like salted salt.  When I use Moe’s handy dandy nutrition calculator, I can see that my burrito weighed in at almost 3,000 milligrams of sodium.  To put that in context, my standard burrito at Chipotle weighs in at about 2,100 milligrams.

Thus this ultimate Moe’s burrito will forever be known as the Slugkiller.

I tried to sample the individual components, hoping for some of that magic.  But the queso tasted like melted American processed cheese spread. The sautéed mushrooms were tasty but certainly not swoon-worthy.  Nor did they go particularly well with the odd smoky flavor of the pulled pork.

There are some of you who like this place?  Some who even prefer it to Chipotle?  What do you order that is delicious? What on earth is the appeal to you?  And if you say free chips and salsa I’m going to flip my lid.  One of the five salsas was better than cheap supermarket bottled junk – the El Guapo – with its assertive notes of cumin.  And the chips were nothing special.  Plus Chipotle will give you all the salsa you like, all you have to do is ask.

Maybe my trusted advisers had more beer in them than I suspected.
You must be careful about who you choose to trust.  Lesson learned.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. Kristi permalink
    June 18, 2010 8:44 am

    They use white meat chicken. No matter how those birds are raised or treated or brought to my burrito, I will choose breast meat chicken over dark meat any day. In fact, I’d eat a meat-free burrito (and I love my meat) before I touched dark meat chicken.

    So, the appeal (beside being more convenient to where I work and live, and the cilantro-free rice) is the part of the chicken then use.

    Oh, and I like that they welcome me with vigor when I walk in the door. The staff at Chipotle barely look up from their burrito-rolling. I’m kidding. Sort of.

  2. Elyse permalink
    June 18, 2010 9:19 am

    It’s funny you posted this today because I had my very first Moe’s burrito this week. It was unimpressive, but inoffensive (but I am generally unimpressed by burritos in general- including chipotle burritos). What really shocked me was the salsa- they were so bland and not very tasty. Even the El Guapo! I found myself eating the chips dry rather than dip them in the salsas, which is ridiculous!

  3. Stevo permalink
    June 18, 2010 11:46 am

    It must be “My first burrito week”, I just went to Chipotle for the fist time yesterday. I tried them because of the good things I’ve heard about how they source their ingredients. The burrito was good, I guess, but it just didn’t do anything for me. Maybe I was expecting too much. Anyway, there is no way on God’s green earth you’ll ever get me into a Moe’s. Gross! Since we’re on the topic of burritos, I haven’t been to Bombers in some time because the last burrito I had there swore me off of the place forever. Not worthy of a “Gross!” designation, but not good either.

  4. Vicki permalink
    June 18, 2010 1:53 pm

    whoa! That burrito sounds positively disgusting. mushrooms???? the queso??? pork in a bag??? stick with Chipotle, your stomach will thank you later!

  5. June 18, 2010 2:48 pm

    Moe’s is the worst! I’ve never liked anything I’ve gotten there and I’ve never not felt sick after either. I’m still up in the air about Chipotle, once the one is Stuyvesant Plaza opens I will give it another go. My favorite quick service burrito place is Panchero’s Mexican Grill, they one up Chipotle by pressing all their tortillas fresh to order besides grilling all their meats to order as well.

  6. phairhead permalink
    June 18, 2010 4:16 pm

    the good thing about Moe’s is the fresh cilantro

  7. June 18, 2010 10:48 pm

    I had to resort to Moe’s in Penn Station recently and instantly regretted it. Chipotle on the other hand…..

  8. June 19, 2010 9:28 am

    I go to Moe’s because I can go there, eat, and be back to work in an hour. Chipotle is a 30 minute hump out to Latham. Not lunch friendly at work. If they open one somewhere in, I don’t know … say Albany, I will certainly switch.

    Also, I’ve been on this quest to figure out what the hell it is in a Moe’s burrito that bumps up my blood sugar into the 135 range. I don’t eat the chips, so I’ve been eliminating ingredients from the burrito to try to find the culprit. I don’t eat rice, so no luck there. I suspected it was some hidden sugars in the salsa, but same result. I get sour cream instead of guac (sugar in guac? Eh, maybe), same results. I am starting to suspect the do something weird to their tortillas. Load ‘em up with HFCS maybe? Dunno, but it pretty much means I’m mostly burrito free for a while.

    • Chris permalink
      June 19, 2010 10:02 am

      Shawn,

      Get it “naked” without the burrito shell itself… it’s a starch; no different than bread and will quickly raise your blood sugar.

      Chris

      • June 19, 2010 10:24 am

        Aye, I agree. The puzzling part is that a 135-140 is much higher than I typically see from a similar quantity of white wheat flour, which would generally be in the 120s. This leads me to wonder what else is hidden in the tortilla.

  9. June 19, 2010 1:55 pm

    I get the Instant Friend Quesadilla. My nutrition is semi covered, despite the suspicious bitterness of the pintos, while my calorie count skates in at under 1000, even with a side of guac. I have yet to try Chipotle.

    If we’re craving burritos, we generally end up at Poncho’s. I comes with the added bonus of sharing a parking lot with Kurver Kreme. Have you been?

  10. June 20, 2010 10:06 pm

    I’m going to say that I prefer Moe’s. Although I have always noticed the lot, lot, lot, lot of salt. When I did get around to trying Chipolte, I was quite thrilled with the cilantro. Cilantro is my bff, and with lime and rice I was happy as a clam. But I don’t really like burritos (yeah, I don’t know), and found there isn’t much of an option besides that for me (personally).

    I head to Moe’s mostly for the Kaiser Salsa. Partly because I really like kitsch, and dude, that name! Mostly I think it’s delish, I suspect because I tend to like sauces and salsas that are, and I’m not sure what the proper term for this is, older. First-day tomato sauce is inferior in my universe. I also don’t really eat most salsas, so I would guess this is the equivalent of someone who doesn’t like hamburgers thinking Mcdonald’s are the best.

    I also find location is kind of key. I do not go to the Western location, pretty much ever. At Wolf Rd. the place is slightly cleaner, but every single time I end up with something in my meal I did not want, like beans, or lettuce, or someone else gets my order (every single time). Wilton is alright, but Clifton Park tends to seem relatively clean, friendly, moves fast, and doesn’t get impostor beans in my rice.

    When we do head there, I go for a quesadilla. The John Coctostan, no beans, chicken, sometimes with diced onions and cilantro and sour cream. I will not go anywhere near queso or pico de gallo. It’s pretty plain, but whatever. I’m really just there for the salsa anyway.

  11. mirdreams permalink
    June 21, 2010 10:50 am

    I like Moe’s but then I can’t stand spicy food. So what I like is a good indication that it’s bland as anything. I like that I can get a real lunch at a “fast food” place for less than 400 calories and 12 grams of fat and get 11 grams of fiber and 13 grams of protein. And I don’t mind salt but this has only 910mg. I love that their website makes it easy for me to know exactly what I’m eating nutrition wise. Here’s my burrito:
    10″ Whole Wheat Wrap
    Black Beans
    Rice
    Lettuce
    Black Olives
    Cheese
    Tomatoes (not Pico de Gallo, too spicy)
    Corn Salsa (just a little, I find it spicy but the sweetness of the corn helps balance it)

    Might not be everyone’s cup of tea but I love it. Think I’ll get one for lunch. I do have to try the Chipolte but even though it’s close to my house there’s no way I’m venturing over the exit 6 hellmouth to get a burrito I suspect I will find too spicy. So it’ll have to wait a while.

  12. Jessica R permalink
    June 25, 2010 10:21 am

    I’ll go out on a ledge and say I like Moe’s burritos over Chipotle. I tried the Chipotle burrito once, and found it to be bland. However, I do love their bowls, so I’ll be going that way from now on at Chipotle. Also, my bowels have back fired against me after both my Chipotle trips. TMI?

    Anyway, for Moe’s, this is my favorite order:
    Medium sized burrito (another bonus over Chipotle, you can order a smaller size burrito)
    Half chicken/Half Steak (just ask, they’ll do it)
    Black Beans
    Rice
    Guac
    Cilantro
    Fresh (not pickled) jalepenos.

    And I love the El Guapo salsa. I also suggest taking the El Guapo and then adding a spoonfull of the Tomatillo salsa on top of it.

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