I have eaten at both Pablo Picante and Burritos and Blues previously, but I felt I owed them another visit so I could give up-to-date descriptions.
Pablo Picante labels itself a Californian burrito bar. This means it is dealing Mexi-Cali cuisine. Mexi-Cali is what non-Mexicans know as just plain old Mexican food. There is nothing that makes the food on offer any different to the other places at first glance, but the menu is full of references to Southern California. Sunny San Diego Burrito and Cali Carnitas being two items up for grabs.
Pablo is one of the more popular burrito joints, and it is one of the best. There are a few outposts around the city. I chose to get take-away at the Baggot Street branch. It’s tiny and crowded (a good sign), with Mexican wrestling masks lining the walls. The service is fast and efficient. One woman works the til, while the other two roll and wrap burritos with confident pace.
I have to confess I did not eat a burrito at Pablo. I went for the Ensenada Ensalada because I couldn’t face anything too heavy that day. It has all the same ingredients, but lettuce replaces the rice and it’s in a bowl not a tortilla.
It was delicious. The chicken was smokey and spicey and the the salsa was hot. There was grilled sweetcorn and carrot for color. Feta cheese was an interesting addition to cut the spice. I would have expected cheddar or even sour cream, but the feta was a really nice twist. It would have been better if I had eaten it sooner and not taken it home. That is my own fault. The Baggot Street branch is very small to sit in (just a counter and stools looking out on the street) if it’s busy; the Clarendon Market outlet is bigger.
Now, I just ate lunch at Burritos and Blues. I wasn’t really looking forward to it, to be honest. I love Mexican food, but there is only so much a person can take. On a road trip with my father and siblings a few years ago, we ate Mexican food for about three days straight; or, from Texas to New Mexico. After dinner on the third day, my father pointed out: “Mexican food can make you contemplative”, which is code for: there can be too much of a good thing. I didn’t expect to be so “contemplative” in Dublin.
But, Burritos and Blues knocked my socks off. I wasn’t expecting it. Burritos and Blues is the sight of my first ever Dublin burrito experience about two years ago, and it was fine. Uneventful. Good. Since then, Boojum has opened and I tend to drift that way. I wasn’t expecting much, but I got much.
The interior has the standard industrial, no fuss, exposed pipes look. There are tables and chairs, but not many. It was crowded for lunch. There is outdoor seating, and though the sun is shining and I was able to leave my winter coat at home, I opted to stay inside.
Food-wise, I decided to go “all in” and I ordered the burrito that B&Bs is famous for: The Silver Bullet. It’s spicy minced beef, beans, rice, all your regular fillings. Guacamole does NOT cost extra on this burrito, and it is the least expensive I’ve had so far. I chose black beans, and green (hot) salsa. The Silver Bullet includes rice, sour cream, lettuce and the guac.
Slight digression: I’ve noticed that at both B&Bs and Boojum, when you choose black beans, they always, always, ask you if you’ve ever tried pinto beans (which is refried beans to us Americans). For some reason, they are pushing the pinto beans and I don’t know why. I like the richness of the black beans.
B&Bs also has two nice touches: 1) the rice is cooked in spices and stock so is pretty tasty on its own and 2) the sour cream is actually a “special sauce”. Yes, it is sour cream based, but they add delicious spices to it, so it has kick. It’s a classy addition.
The Silver Bullet was also not overly huge. It was big, yes, but I didn’t feel like I had to lie down and contemplate my life afterwards. I was able to jump back on the bike and ride home.
Two very good experiences this week. Four down, two more to go.