Burros – along with their diminutive (at least in name) cousins, burritos – have always struck me as problematic. They’re invariably overstuffed, often grotesquely so. When they’re not dry, they’re drowning in goopy sauce and (horrors) cheese. Worst of all is the dreaded burrito fold, confronting the eater with double or triple or quadruple layers of gummy flour tortilla.
But Eric and I are in Tucson this week, and Tucson is the land of flour tortillas, where chimichangas were born and burros reign supreme. As the saying goes: when in Rome, do as the Sonorans do.
And so after a morning spent at Saguaro National Park and the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, we headed for the Anita Street Market, which by general consensus has the best burros in the city. It was to be a celebratory luncheon, seeing as how I’d managed to see not just one Pyrrhuloxia, but at least four, up close and personal at the Red Hills Visitor Center at Saguaro. Pyrrhuloxias, for the uninitiated, look like a cardinal imagined by Tim Burton. When you’re a nerdy, bird-crazy kid, as I was, they’re one of those birds that jump out at you from the pages of field guides, one of those birds that fires your imagination and fills you with a burning desire to see it someday.
And yet, until today, I never had.
The Anita Street Market occupies a small corner building on a working-class street of small houses northwest of downtown. From the location to the mural on the side of the building to the tiny side yard set up for outdoor eating, everything about it seemed designed to appeal to me.
If I were ever going to like a burro/burrito, it would be theirs.
And I did like it, mainly on the strength of Anita Street’s famous flour tortillas. They’re almost thin enough to see through, speckled with brown char spots, elastic enough to contain their contents, yet so tender and toothsome and delicious that the dreaded burrito fold is not a problem. You could fold these tortillas over eight times and I wouldn’t complain (and that’s saying something, believe me).
There remains the problem of how to customize your burrito. Study the photo at the top of this post, and you’ll see that this carne asada burro comes with (exemplary) salsa and a lime for squeezing. Like any sane person, I like lime on my grilled meat (more lime than that one tiny wedge could possibly provide, but that’s beside the point). How exactly are the lime and meat to encounter one another, when the meat is swaddled so tightly and expertly in tortilla? And that salsa: am I supposed to use it as a dip, or what?
This is the problem that tacos solve so brilliantly, and that burros/burritos continue to struggle with. While I’m no longer an out-and-out burrito hater, I remain a taco girl.