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Tinga and Carnitas at Hector's in Freedom

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Tinga and Carnitas at Hector's in Freedom

ahclem | Jul 9, 2006 07:18 AM

Out doing errands in the Watsonville area today with the mandate to return with burritos for the family. Decided on Hector's on Airport Blvd. in Freedom. Although they've been there almost forever, something like 15 years ago or so my wife and I tried it and had a decidedly lukewarm response and so it had been off our list until recently, when continued positive buzz convinced us to give it another try. Turned out to be a good decision.

While officially "Hector's Bakery" (and there is a small case of (none-too-impressive) pastries near the front counter), it's really about the burritos. They offer Regular ($3.00) and Super ($4.00), with the difference being the size. They make their own tortillas and the flour tortillas are somewhat smaller than typical burrito-sized tortillas. The Regular uses one of them, while for the Super they overlap two of them to create a larger burrito. (The Super seems by far the better deal.) In either case, the burrito includes rice, beans, salsa, and the meat of your choice (although they'll eliminate beans, rice or salsa at your request).

Chicken is typically the meat of choice of the rest of my family members, but I've found that too often it just doesn't add much character to a burrito (my long-time standard had been the al pastor at Tacos Moreno). However, Hector's offers three chicken choices: pollo asada, pollo mole and tinga, with the tinga being the spiciest of the three and the unanimous choice of our family. (It's listed simply as Tinga on the menu board and I believe Tinga can also refer to other meats (most often pork), but here it's chicken.) The pieces of chicken are suffused with the smokey, spicy taste of the sauce and make for a superb chicken burrito.

Although in the past I've rarely ordered carnitas, recent discussion here has had me checking it out at the various places we frequent. (In fact, on my last visit to Moreno I ordered a carnitas burrito for probably the first time in the 20 or so years I've been going there. Unfortunately, I was entirely underwhelmed, Back to the al pastor for me.)

Strangely, carnitas is not included in Hector's list of meat selections, but if you ask you'll find that they do have it (unless they're out, which has happened once). And it's everything you'd want a carnitas burrito to be. Nice balance of ingredients, tender, flavorful meat, and those delightful crunchy bits that, for me at least, are a requirement of great carnitas.

Highly recommended.

Hector's Bakery
301 Airport Blvd.
Freedom, 95019
(831) 722-6837

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