Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A first look at Luna Maya Burritos on Cantrell Rd.

Posted By on Wed, Oct 9, 2013 at 7:30 AM

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When looking for a good burrito joint, one comes to expect certain things. It must be quick and convenient, it should be relatively inexpensive but also of a certain quality. It should be substantial and filling, and it should provide tasty, easy-to-handle, good-on-the-go products that, ideally, can be enjoyed at any time of the day.

As the late Home Fresh Burgers closed its door to the public in recent months, we’ve already seen the space re-open with the establishment of a casual, take-out-only burrito joint, Luna Maya Burritos. From its outside appearance, it would seem that the folks behind Luna Maya were quite eager to get to their burrito building, not wasting much time with décor, signage, remodeling, or advertising. The old “Home Fresh Burgers” sign is still boldly hanging above their new restaurant (at least it was at the time of their opening), there’s been very little to no changes at all to the small, weathered building in which Luna Maya now resides. Indeed, the only way you’d even know they were in operation is a small, hand scribbled sign in black permanent marker which sits on a propped up plastic rig near the sidewalk. “NOW OPEN - LUNA MAYA BURRITOS,” it reads, but that was all the convincing I needed to make a stop there to see what this place had to offer.

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For those who never patronized the old burger joint (or whatever it was that came before them), the tiny building is about as “bare bones” as possible compared to other restaurants. The building is lined by large glass windows, offering a peek inside and providing a walk up window wherein customers approach and order their food while waiting outside. Peering inside, you’ll find no more than a few frying vats, a long steel flat top, and a soft drink dispenser. A one page, 8 ½ x 11’, laminated print-out announces the restaurants few menu options. For the time being, there are really only a handful of options: steak or chicken burritos and quesadillas. Burritos are assembled to-order and customers are able to select from a small list of ingredients and tortillas to customize their selection.

I sampled the steak burrito “with everything,” which included lettuce, tomato, cheese, black beans, seasoned rice, sour cream, and fresh pico de gallo. I also opted to add guacamole for a small additional fee. Secondly, I ordered a chicken quesadilla—an item that wasn’t even officially on the menu, but which the owner said he could make for my son who was joining me at the time. The food was made promptly, wrapped up, and handed to me in a small white paper sack. I grabbed my food, got in the car (exiting on Cantrell with a right turn, thankfully, as we all know how painfully difficult it can be making a left turn here can often be), and we sat down to eat at a nearby park.

I was overall pleased with our food. The burrito was sizable, clearly constructed with fresh ingredients. The burrito’s steak was tender and well-seasoned and managed to make a favorable impression on the tongue without getting lost in a mess of accompanying ingredients. The beans and rice were nicely prepared, flavorful and suitably proportioned. The large flour tortilla was prepared exactly as I like them, soft and pliable but just slightly chewy. The sour cream and guacamole added nice cooling elements, though I wish the guacamole would have held a slightly stronger presence overall. The accompanying green and red salsas were excellent accompaniments—the green being, surprisingly, the spicier of the two. Likewise, we enjoyed the chicken quesadilla, despite its simplicity. Composed merely of melted cheese and chicken in a folded four tortilla, the dish was pleasant mostly due to the tender, moist, and perfectly seasoned white meat chicken. A bit more crisp on the tortilla would have served this dish well, but it remained enjoyable to the last bite.

I’d certainly like to see Luna Maya add a few more options to their menu, especially if they’re going to be in it for the long haul. A few pork options, barbacoa, chorizo, etc.—these would do the menu much good. But Luna Maya shows promise and I’m excited to see what this place can do over the coming months.

Luna Maya Burritos is located at 7706 Cantrell Road, Little Rock.

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