Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Blue Coast and the big burrito blues

Posted By on Tue, Dec 11, 2012 at 10:41 AM

IMG_2017.JPG
Some people are predicting that burritos will be the "next big thing" in 2013. Burritos are almost universally loved, familiar to the dining public, and often allow for a relatively large amount of food for a small price. When Chipotle opened in Little Rock in 2011, it was understandably a big deal. Little Rock is relatively deficient in good burrito joints. I'm not the biggest Chipotle fanboy, but I like their burritos (and even more, their burrito bowls) for the most part. But there aren't many places offering plump, hefty, two-hands-required burritos in central Arkansas, so it makes sense that they would flourish here. While in college, I basically lived on carne asada burritos...giant, soft flour tortillas stuffed full with freshly grilled steak, onions, and guacamole, with a side of fiery red hot sauce...a simple concoction, but some of the finest dining you'll find on the planet when done right. I know that fellow contributor, Michael Roberts, has sung the praises of Baja Grill for some time now, but I've yet to make the mini-trip to Benton to investigate myself. Recently however, in my search for a beautiful burrito in central Arkansas, I determined to visit North Little Rock to sample the offerings of Blue Coast Burrito, a mini-franchise out of Tennessee that harbors two locations here in Arkansas (the other being in Jonesboro).

It's difficult to eat at Blue Coast without drawing comparisons to Chipotle. The ordering system, the assembly-line style burrito construction, and the menu in general are very similar indeed. Burritos start with a choice of protein (chicken, steak, or pork), get a dose of rice and beans, and the diner pretty much takes it from there, letting their gluttonous imaginations run wild with a smattering of other offered ingredients: cheese, salsa, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, guacamole...you know the drill. They'll also do tacos, taco salads, nachos, quesadillas and a few side items as well. On our visit we sampled a steak burrito and the fish tacos.

My burrito was sizable, mostly due to my heavy-handed topping selection, but it made for a substantial meal when the finished product was completed. Overall however, I had some issues with freshness and flavor. I didn't expect everything to be made to-order, in busy establishments this may not be feasible. Perhaps I arrived too early in the dinner hour (around 6 PM), business was rather slow at the time, but much of my burrito tasted like it had been sitting around all day waiting for me to order it. The rice was fairly stale, the cubes of beef, once scooped out of their pool of watery marinade, were rather chewy and bland. The beans were more undercooked than I would have liked, and again lacked much seasoning. With the mix of cheese, sour cream and vegetables, with a generous addition of salsa, the burrito was not terrible, and I finished the entire meal without much complaining, but I'm not convinced these burritos can even compete with Chipotle.

The fish tacos suffered some of the same freshness issues. The fish appeared to simply be reheated and thrown together too quickly. I'd hoped for crispy, batter-dipped fried fish, served piping hot on a bed of fresh cabbage. Instead the fish came out slightly soggy with a mushy crust in some areas. The tortillas suffered a similar problem and tasted as if the entire thing had just paid a short visit to the microwave. The cabbage was fresh and the tartar-like dressing was rather tasty, creamy and tangy and helped redeem the tacos to a certain degree. But overall, this is not something I'd order again. I did, however, enjoy their salsa bar offered to all patrons. They don't include free chips with your order, so unless you enjoy eating salsa alone by the spoonful, you'll need something to put it on, but they were flavorful and helped improve the overall experience.

Personally, I'd love to see the uprising of the humble burrito. Whether the more "authentic" Mexican-style burritos or the West Coast-style build-your-own-burrito joints, I'd be happy to see more in our fair city. But based on my visit, Blue Coast Burrito needs to tweak a few things before I'll be getting my fix at their restaurant again.

Blue Coast Burrito has two locations in Arkansas: 1320 Stadium Blvd, Jonesboro and 4613 E. McCain, North Little Rock.

Tags: , , , ,

Favorite

Speaking of...

Comments (10)

Showing 1-10 of 10

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-10 of 10

Add a comment

More by Daniel Walker

  • The Kraft Mac & Cheese Food Hack

    Recently, we held another food hack competition, taking another childhood classic, Kraft Mac & Cheese, and tried to turn it on its head, creating something entirely new and unique. Again, the results were pretty awesome. The rules were simple: Use a whole box of mac and cheese, both noodles and cheese powder, and turn it into any sinister monstrosity imaginable. We had a vote via the Eat Arkansas Facebook page to crown a winner. Here's what was submitted:
    • Jul 30, 2014
  • Food Feedback Friday: The "We need your vote!" edition

    Alrighty...you know the drill with Food Feedback. Tell us what you're eating this week and what you thought about it. I love to hear all the suggestions and I'm frequently looking back through your recommendations to determine my next meal. So share away! Happy weekend, y'all.
    • Jul 25, 2014
  • Looking in on the new Le Pops, now in the Heights

    Le Pops is a wonderful addition to the Heights neighborhood. Laurie Harrison is incredibly dedicated to her product, she still works here 7 days a week and is constantly experimenting in the kitchen to develop new flavors. Check them out the next time you need a cool down.
    • Jul 24, 2014
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • In defense of Planned Parenthood and abortion rights

    An op-ed in today's New York Time by Katha Pollitt says what I've been struggling to say about the reaction to the attack on women's reproductive rights launched by means of the undercover videos made by anti-abortion activists.
    • Aug 5, 2015
  • Maddie's Place makes a believer out of a skeptic

    After a long hiatus, I return to Maddie's Place in Riverdale and find the food is a lot tastier than I remembered.
    • Aug 19, 2015
  • The Lemon Cakery is pure bliss

    In the eternal and often epic battle between "cake" and "pie," I normally come down on the pie side of things. The Lemon Cakery puts that rule to the test—deliciously.
    • Oct 1, 2015

Most Shared

  • World leaders set to meet in Little Rock on resource access and sustainable development

    Next week a series of meetings on the use of technology to tackle global problems will be held in Little Rock by Club de Madrid — a coalition of more than 100 former democratic former presidents and prime ministers from around the world — and the P80 Group, a coalition of large public pension and sovereign wealth funds founded by Prince Charles to combat climate change. The conference will discuss deploying existing technologies to increase access to food, water, energy, clean environment, and medical care.
  • Tomb to table: a Christmas feast offered by the residents of Mount Holly and other folk

    Plus, recipes from the Times staff.
  • Rapert compares Bill Clinton to Orval Faubus

    Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway)  was on "Capitol View" on KARK, Channel 4, this morning, and among other things that will likely inspire you to yell at your computer screen, he said he expects someone in the legislature to file a bill to do ... something about changing the name of the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.
  • Fake news

    So fed up was young Edgar Welch of Salisbury, N.C., that Hillary Clinton was getting away with running a child-sex ring that he grabbed a couple of guns last Sunday, drove 360 miles to the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C., where Clinton was supposed to be holding the kids as sex slaves, and fired his AR-15 into the floor to clear the joint of pizza cravers and conduct his own investigation of the pedophilia syndicate of the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state.
  • Reality TV prez

    There is almost nothing real about "reality TV." All but the dullest viewers understand that the dramatic twists and turns on shows like "The Bachelor" or "Celebrity Apprentice" are scripted in advance. More or less like professional wrestling, Donald Trump's previous claim to fame.

Visit Arkansas

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation