The Burrito House
1220 N. Hayden Meadows Drive
One of my favorite things about eating at a Mexican restaurant is the free chips and salsa. Who doesn’t love free chips and salsa, right? Well, jump in the car and get yourself to North Portland’s Burrito House for an additional pre-meal treat: warm fry bread served with honey!
That’s right, chips, fresh salsa AND fry bread. Who needs to eat lunch after a spread like that?
Although it’s almost too easy to do, don’t fill yourself up before the meal arrives because the food is yummy. A wide array of burritos dominate the menu, but salads (they even have a meat and cheese salad!), quesadillas, tacos and many other mouth-watering items round out Burrito House’s offerings—literally painted above and around the cash register as you walk in.
OK, I’ll admit that the décor is a bit outdated—I’ve been eating here since I was a little lunch lady and I think the same eel still lives in their giant aquarium. But once you are seated in one of the cozy booths (which could probably fit a party of six with ease) and snacking on the warm fry bread who cares about the décor? The restaurant is very clean and the wait staff was extremely friendly and went out of their way to make sure we had everything we needed. When my lunch companion asked for some hot sauce the waitress asked if he’d rather have jalapenos instead (one of his favorites), and it arrived finely diced with the traditional carrots slices added.
As for the food, it’s not very spicy, but it’s not bland either. The fresh salsa has a bite to it, but it’s certainly not the hottest I’ve had. My burrito was perfect for me, smothered with enchilada sauce and gooey cheese. The restaurant is family-friendly, so that might be part of the reason the food’s not all that fiery hot, but they are pretty thorough about what you want when you order, so if you want to take it up a few spicy notches (or want jalapeno-hot) just ask, they seem to know what they are doing in the kitchen.
Burrito House also serves margaritas at a GREAT price, $4.25 will get you a traditional tequila margarita or for $4.75 you can get one of their numerous fruit-flavored margarita options. They also have a good selection of beer options.
Prices vary depending if you order ala carte items or get a salad, rice and beans included, but our meal for two—including two burrito meals (a bean and cheese burrito and the Red Burrito), a Corona and a Diet Dr. Pepper—came out to just under $20.
Sure, it’s a little out of the way for downtowners, but if you drive to pick up your lunch and you’re craving Mexican, it’s worth at least a trip through the drive-thru. Better yet, get some co-workers and make it a lunch destination!
Pros: FREE fry bread served with the chips and salsa, cheap margaritas, good food, drive-thru option
Cons: It’s a little out of the way and can be hard to find if you don’t know the ‘hood, décor is a little kitschy