Episode 20 – Smoke’s Burritorie

The newest Smoke’s venture, Smoke’s Burritorie has been opened in the old location of Burrito Boyz, 218 Adelaide St W.  Burrito Boyz has moved a couple doors west in a much larger location.  So… by opening their own burrito shop in Burrito Boyz old stomping grounds, I can only assume this is a declaration of burrito war!  Who will be the victor?

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Here’s a picture of the insane lineup from the grand opening day launch, where Smoke’s Burritorie offered $1 burritos.

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The Decor

I really like the branding job Smoke’s has done over the years.  Who hasn’t seen their Smoke’s head stickers stuck to mailboxes, stop signs, traffic signal boxes, lamp posts or any where in the city really?  With the restaurant, they chose to keep the same logo and design, with a different colour scheme.  In addition, all over the walls you will see pictures of cute donkeys, and one with his name prominently stated next to him.  Jasper.  The is the donkey that this location of Smoke’s Burritorie has officially sponsored from The Donkey Sanctuary.  I think it’s pretty cool!  The music they play from what I heard was basically all classic rock from the 70s/80s.

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The Food

I had the mucho grande (large) El Gran Toro (steak) burrito — marinated flat iron steak, lime cilantro rice, Smoke’s refried beans, sweet corn, salsa, crispy onions, crisp lettuce, citrus slaw and house guac.  The first thing I notice is that the steak is pulled style, and not chunks.  That’s not a big issue for me… but the problem with this burrito is that the citrus slaw and perhaps the lime cilantro rice just overpower the burrito.  There is a strong vinegar-like flavour and the crunch of the citrus slaw kind of overwhelms the whole package.  It’s simply just ok for me.  6/10

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I went back and tried out their Pollo Diablo (spicy chicken) burrito — Kick Ass chicken, Kick Ass rice, Smoke’s refried beans, crisp lettuce, citrus slaw, fresh jalapeños, habanero cheese, diced red onion, salsa and house guac.  I got their grande (small — ironic I know) and also got a small chicken burrito from Burrito Boyz a couple doors down for comparison.

The first thing I notice — Smoke’s burrito is much smaller… we’re talking like 2 inches, AND cost 1.20 more.  It was $8.45 with tax, while the Burrito Boyz one was $7.25.  Next — the taste of the Pollo Diablo burrito from Smoke’s… it’s… not good.  First off, it’s not hot at all.  Something that’s advertised as spicy should at LEAST have a minor kick to it.  I honestly think this thing was milder than Sriracha or Tabasco sauce.  As far as the flavour of the burrito… it was bad.  I’m talking bad to the point that all I was tasting every single bite of this burrito was tomato paste.  I don’t know what they are using to season the “Kick Ass” chicken and rice but it needs to be rejigged.  The only flavour coming out of the burrito is tomato paste… it even overpowered the vinegar-like flavour that I noticed in the citrus slaw when eating the steak burrito.  4/10

Even worse, is that when you eat it back to back with a Burrito Boyz burrito, it’s no contest.  The burrito wrap is better from Burrito Boyz — it’s got more of a chewy give to it, the chicken is better… the guacamole is better, just everything actually punches through at Burrito Boyz.  Even the hot sauce is hotter!  I’d say their chicken burrito is an 8/10.

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Something else I think Smoke’s missed out on was the opportunity to do something wacky… maybe make a Poutine Burrito.  I think at least that way they’d have something unique over their competitors.  As it stands, I honestly cannot recommend Smoke’s Burritorie over its’ neighbouring competitors (Burrito Boyz, Burrito Bandidos, Fat Bastard Burrito, Mucho Burrito).  I’d even suggest going to Smoke’s Poutinerie over the Burritorie.  The branding is on point… but the food isn’t.  It’s simply not worth the visit.

Next week: I check out Maha’s in Leslieville for some Egyptian-style brunch!

-Tang

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