In the great metropolitan area of Phoenix, there are plenty of taco/burrito places that all end with “tos.” Filibertos, Polibertos, Losbetos, Pigeontos, etc. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of them are particularly bad. Of course, they will fill the stomach after a night at the clubs when the only other options are Denny’s or 5 & Diner.
It was music to my ears to discover that there was a place in Tempe called Someburros! that specializes in large burros with a variety of fillings. A few people had mentioned it to me that is “wasn’t bad,” so I was quite happy to try this place and see if it was a notch above the “tos.”
My trek took me to the southeast corner of Baseline Road and Mill Avenue in Tempe, AZ. The eatery was located toward the back of a strip mall with shake roofing and a variety of businesses. I had a tough time finding parking because Someburros! was packed with diners. I did finally snag a space and walked in.
The place was fairly large with many tables and a refill station for drinks. I walked to the counter to order and noticed the very large and comprehensive menu tacked to the wall behind the registers. The featured items were the burros, but I also noticed several other Mexican dishes as well. As I was making up my mind, the cashier pulled out a tray from underneath the counter, grabbed a paper basket and filled it with tortilla chips. She then took my order.
I decided on the Chicken Fundido Burro ($6.35), but I also wanted to try something non-burroish, so I ordered the Chile Relleno ($3.85). To wash it all down, I got a large Diet Coke ($1.85). I paid my bill and the cashier then filled my drink cup, placed it on my tray and then added a bottle of hot sauce. She then handed me a number to place on my table so my food could be brought to me.
I found a table near the front doors and parked myself, diving into the chips and sauce. The chips were, unfortunately, stale. I don’t know how long they had been sitting under the counter, but they were not good. Thankfully, the hot sauce covered up some of the staleness, but I abandoned the chips after a couple. The sauce itself was quite good, with a moderate amount of heat and a pleasant fresh taste that made it stand out.
As I waited for my food, I surveyed the surroundings and they were bright, sunny and cheerful, with each table sporting a pot of fake flowers. The place was very clean and I liked the openess of the dining area.
I waited about 10 minutes before my food arrived. On two separate plates were my burro, complete with rice, and the chile relleno. Both were piping hot and I had great hope about this. They serving sizes were also quite large. I tasted the rice and liked it. It was fluffy and moist and had a nice taste to it because it had been seasoned with a bit of cumin.
I cut a piece of the burro and took a taste. I was not happy at all. What turned me right off to this burro was the fact that the chicken had come straight from a can. The chunks were lightly pink and in large nuggets. I had seen this before and it was from the little tin I use to open to make chicken salad sandwiches for myself when I was a starving college student without any real means of being able to cook any food. Sadly, the canned chicken had “that taste.” I thought the fact that Someburros! used canned chicken pointed to either the place being cheap or lazy, but it was a faux pas that never should have been done.
The cream cheese sauce - the highlight of any fundido dish - was okay, but there was so much of it, it had to be scraped off and used sparingly. I don’t like biting into a brick of Philadelphia cream cheese with my bagel and I certainly didn’t like it here. If I were a cynic, I would say they upped the amount of cheese sauce to hide the canned chicken.
I then turned my attention to the Chile Relleno. This wasn’t just piping hot. It was nuclear. I had to wait a few minutes to let the whole dish cool down or else I would have caused 3rd degree burns on my lips, mouth, etc. When it finally was cool enough to eat, I took my first bite. It was better than the burro, but not by much. While it had all the necessary components of a chile relleno, it was missing the most important factor: taste. This was virtually flavorless. There was cheese and eggs and a chile and a sauce, but even the chile had no distinct taste that my mouth could latch onto. Now, if I were a cynic, I would think they made this flavorless on purpose, so as not to offend anyone.
Disappointed and still hungry, I filled up my soda glass, emptied my tray at the nearest garbage can and left. The total for this luncheon downer was $13.03 including tax. The cashier and the person who brought me my food were both pleasant and friendly. But that didn’t even come close to making this restaurant run a success (although they did have Diet Coke). As I walked to the car, I entertained the idea of going to one of the “tos” restaurants, but decided just to wait it out until dinner.
As I drove around to do some errands, I thought about why this place was so busy when the food was mediocre at best.
Then, I saw something that made me realize that people will often enjoy mediocre food just because the portions are large:
101 East Baseline Road
Tempe, AZ 85283
Hours: Sunday through Thursday - 10:30 AM to 10 PM; Friday and Saturday - 10:30 AM to 11 PM
Notes: There are two other locations in Gilbert and Chandler.
Additional photos can be found at www.feastinginphoenix.com
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