Friday, May 2, 2008

Burritos and Remembering Home

There probably few families in America that have put more money toward Chipotle Mexican Grill than mine has. We usually have home cooked meals, but when we go out in Los Angeles, 90 percent of the time it is to Chipotle. It’s easy, it’s cheap, it’s delicious, and if you order right, it can be decently healthy. I don’t claim that it’s authentic Mexican food, but I love it.

Well, Sydney doesn’t have Chipotle. But I just found the next best thing: Mad Mex in Darlinghurst.

Same concept as Chipotle: fresh ingredients along an assembly line piled into burritos, tacos, quesadillas or bowls. The quality at Chipotle is a few notches higher and the prices a bit lower (considering tax and conversion rate, it isn’t grossly different). Still, Mad Mex hits the spot.

I head to Darlinghurst with a feeling I’d be disappointed. It’ll cost too much, won’t taste the same, won’t be enough food... But as we joined the line spilling out the door, I could smell those familiar scents. The night air even felt like California. Excuse me as I get nostalgic, but I really felt like I was back home.

The burrito was really good. Through dinner I discussed all the subtle differences: lack of bay leaves in the black beans, uneven onion-to-green-pepper ratio, not enough salt and cilantro in the rice...but nonetheless, it satisfied a certain yearning.

As part of their specials leading up to Cinqo de Mayo, Mad Mex has $5 margaritas. Knowing how much my dad loves the margaritas at Chipotle, I figured he’d be disappointed if I didn’t try one here. It was pretty good, but probably not better than back home.

I still have that Chipotlesque taste in my mouth and full in my belly, and it makes me happy.

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