Carnicerias Guanajuato: Round 1 Review

#14a. Taqueria Guanajuato @ Carnicerias Guanajuato
1438 N. Ashland
Chorizo Burrito
$3.64 (no extras)

Defeated #14b Carniceria Laura in Eat-in Match [review]

Not to worry. I'm not burned out on burritos. But you have to understand that I sometimes consume "off-bracket" burritos for lunch or dinner on days when there's no competition to resolve in the bracket. Most often these are from La Pasadita, because it's close and open late, or Taco and Burrito Express, because it's even closer and open just as late. The last week or so had featured an unusually high amount of off-bracket consumption, and so I needed to take a couple of days off before I got around to the review of Carnicerias Guanajuato.

In retrospect, I regret that I had the three-day break between reviews, because this has turned out to be the most difficult verdict that we've had yet in the Burrito Bracket. In fact, as of this writing, I'm not really sure how I'm going to resolve it. Eating the burritos on back-to-back would have left my memory a little fresher, and made this easier to decide.

The Food: This was good chorizo. Just the right amount of spice, with no one "signature" flavor but everything staying in very good balance. Similarly, Guanajuato's chorizo had good texture, coarser than the stuff we got at Tecalitlan, which resembled ground beef, but not lumpy like during Taqueria Traspasada's disappointing performance. The burrito also stayed in better balance than Tecalitlan's -- it was still stuffed full of meat, but not so much that you couldn't taste the other ingredients, or that it lost its structural integrity.

Once you get away from the meat, however, there were a few issues. A couple of the tomatoes were a little stale. Guanajuato includes avocadoes in their burritos, which is a nice touch, but they weren't particuarly fresh; I actually mistook them for egg at first (it's fairly common for eggs to be mixed in with chorizo). The tortilla did not have the nice toasty flavor that we got at Tecalitlan, and the salsa was just average. None of these things were enough to undermine the overall burrito experience, but they result in point deductions here and there.

The Experience: Guanajuato had some significant problems with the cleanliness of its seating area last time around, and fortunately those were not really replicated on this visit. There was still a stray bottle of salsa that could have been picked up, and one or two salsa stains on the counter, but it wasn't outside the boundaries of normal taqueria clutter. The service can be a little aloof to an English speaker, but it's also reasonably efficient: there were two orders that were placed at just about the same time as mine, and they all got out pretty quickly with an assist from one of the guys from the carniceria counter.

Still, it was not a match for the service at Tecalitlan, so what we're left to weigh is a small, but material edge in the food category for Guanajuato, against a larger edge in the experience category for Tecalitlan. This is sort of my worst bracket nightmare. If Guanajuato's kitchen had been as messy as it was last time, that would almost certainly have disqualified it. On the other hand, if those veggies in its burrito had been just a little better, that would probably have been enough to overcome any advantage in the service category and propel it into the second round. Instead, it winds up right at that cusp where I'm left to do a lot of thinking about just how to weigh the different factors that go into the burrito experience. I'm going to have to pause to think about this one for a while, and all options are on the table, including potentially an overtime round.

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