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Granny's Burritos
420 Fore Street

Three Plates  
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Granny's Burritos Reviewed: Spring, 2000

Burritos. The perfect food, covering each of the basic food groups all in one neat little package. You've got your dairy craving taken care of with the cheese and sour cream, your carbs satisfied with the tortilla and rice, protein covered through the beans and meat if you choose to eat it, and vegetable requirements met with the lettuce and tomato. I can't remember when I first discovered them, but I think I could live forever on them. From making my own homemade burritos, to selling or buying them at Phish shows where they are so prevalent, to ordering gourmet versions at fancy Mexican restaurants, there are so many ways to fill a tortilla shell yet it never fails to create a filling tasty meal.

Our first visit to Granny's was at 4:00 on a Sunday afternoon. We had been wandering the Old Port, our typical Sunday ritual, had eaten a really big, late morning brunch and we were starting to hear our stomachs call out again for satiation. We walked in the door of Granny's and were immediately persuaded by the hostess, or at least she appeared to be a hostess, to sit in the upstairs dining area where we could be waited on rather than ordering from the take out counter. We clomped up the wooden staircase to find a fairly good sized room filled with picnic tables, of all shapes and sizes, menus and paper place settings already out. We chose a funny octagon-shaped table and looked over the laminated double sided menu.

In addition to the Appetizers and Kid's offerings, the very vegetarian-and-vegan-friendly menu is divided into three sections, Burritos, Quesadillas, and Rice & Beans. Every item listed under each heading has the same general ingredients, just served in a different format. For instance, one could order a "Chicken Mango" or a "Sweet Potato" Burrito, Quesadilla or Rice & Beans Dish which would all be basically the same except one is cylindrical, one is flat, and one is in a bowl, respectively. They also have a choice of nine different tortilla flavors for the burritos and quesadillas including White, Wheat, Cilantro, Spinach, Basil Red Pepper, Chili, and Sun Dried Tomato. There were a few specials written on a chalkboard but I opted for something from the menu instead. Both my friend and I chose the "Guacamole" Burrito ($5.50), mine in a Garlic Herb Tortilla while he ordered his in a Cilantro Chipolte shell. We were given a choice of black, pinto, both, or no beans. I opted for both while my friend went exclusively black. We both ordered beers to go with our afternoon meal.

We hardly had to wait at all before our giant burritos arrived wrapped in tin foil and served in a little red plastic basket. The oversize fresh tortilla was stuffed, I mean this thing was a good five inches in diameter, with white rice, saucy black beans, whole pinto beans, a little cheese, a tiny bit of sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes and then a big glob of guacamole right in the bottom. The tortilla was folded over and tucked in on the ends to solidly hold everything inside. I would have liked the fillings mixed together a bit more, for instance I'd get one bite of pure rice and the next would be a mouthful of creamy guacamole, but all in all it was a delicious combination, very filling too.

In fact, we enjoyed Granny's Burritos so much that we returned again shortly after. This time, we decided to order from the take out counter downstairs instead. I noticed a few specials written both outside on the sidewalk board and inside behind the counter including Tamari Basil Chicken Burrito ($5.25), Spicy Citrus Tofu Burrito ($5.25) and the daily Vegan Special, Tangy Red Pepper Tempeh Burrito ($5.25), none of which tempted my taste buds at the time. I quickly perused the menu once again to refresh my memory, very briefly considering the salads, both Garden ($3.75) and Mexican ($4.75), a garden salad served on tortilla chips and topped with beans, cheese, and jalapenos, with a warm tortilla and side of salsa. I breezed through the burrito/quesadilla options imagining the likes of the "Spinach" Burrito ($4.75) or Quesadilla ($4.25), the basic veggie with fresh spinach in place of lettuce, or the "Beef" Burrito ($5.25) or Quesadilla ($4.75), sirloin tips cooked in their own Jamaican jerk sauce, added to the basic veggie. As we stood in the short line, the cashier called out, "No guacamole in the house!" to warn us all ahead of time not to bother ordering it. Although it was the big burrito I was craving, I went for the 16 oz. bowl of "Chicken" Rice & Beans ($3.50), with only black beans this time, and I ordered cheese, sour cream, lettuce and tomato to go on top ($0.25 each). Essentially I just ordered burrito innards. My friend went for a Veggie Quesadilla ($3.75), also with black beans, in a Cilantro Chipolte Tortilla with a side of Chips & Salsa ($1.50). We each grabbed a Nantucket Nectars from the cooler, paid $10.97 for our meals, which according to my math was much less that we expected, and sat down at one of the tables to wait for our order.

Not more than five minutes later, the cashier called my name and handed us our all too familiar little red plastic baskets nesting our well-anticipated meals. My Rice & Beans came in a little cardboard cup, layered from bottom to top with rice, the soupy black beans, three generous chunks of chicken, hardly any cheese, a bit of sour cream, tomatoes and lettuce. They are quite stingy with the dairy I have noticed but that's ok, healthier in the long run I suppose. It was a perfect sized lunch. I mixed everything together so it did in fact resemble the interior of a burrito. My friend gobbled his quesadilla in no time. The tortilla was filled with tons of cheese, they must save it all for the quesadillas, and the beans and veggies were all situated in the center of the whole deal. He did say he wished the filling had been dispersed throughout the tortilla shell a bit more rather than all in a big clump but it was still very good regardless. He didn't comment on his chips and salsa but they were gone before I could blink and I would think it's generally pretty difficult to go wrong with chips and salsa.

wheelchair accessible
vegetarian selections
vegan selections
most credit cards accepted
All the staff at Granny's have been nothing but friendly and efficient each time I have visited the establishment. The food is consistent, very fast, extremely well worth the low price and filling. It is the perfect place for an informal, quick, all around satisfying meal, either to take out or eat in.

Granny's is open Monday through Thursday from 11:00 a.m. until closing, Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m., Saturday from noon to midnight, and Sunday from 12:00 to 10:00 p.m.  back to the top

      Tracy B. Wheeler is a classical flutist and freelance writer who lives in Portland.

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