There is a specter haunting Mount Vernon, the specter of Chipotle. The chain is one of the few places in the neighborhood that serves burritos, which are, objectively, the best food item ever. But, you know, fuck that place. Do you know where its money goes? No, of course not, but it definitely doesn’t stay in Baltimore. Still, we understand, because if you love burritos and are in the neighborhood around lunchtime, where do you go?
Now, there is another answer: Poblano Mexican Grill, which recently opened up in the weird spot at the corner of Park Avenue and West Chase where the Quiznos used to be. And it still looks like a Quiznos. But when we asked the older guy at the cash register if Poblano was a chain, he said, “No, we hope to be, but we’re just a family business now.” That’s good news—and better, the burritos are great. We are big fans of just a bean and rice burrito ($5.99, $5.99 with chicken and $6.49 with steak), so we often take that route. It has a choice between cilantro-lime rice and Mexican rice and between black and pinto beans. The rice has always been perfectly fluffy and flavorful and the beans delicious. You can then choose among a wide variety of salsas and other toppings, including salsa verde, pico de gallo, a spicy red chili sauce, fresh peppers, and pickled jalapeno.
We get all of it, plus guacamole, which is extra. The only problem is that it kind of tries to be Chipotle—when you order a burrito, the Mexican guy behind the counter asks if you want a bowl or a wrap. Fuck that! By definition, a burrito is a goddamn wrap. Just do what you do and do it better than those corporate goons, Poblano. And it does. Once your burrito has been rolled with the masterful skill of Snoop Dogg, the worker places it back on the hot grill, to melt the cheese a bit and make the tortillas crispy. The tacos are also awesome. We got the chicken and the steak (two per order at $5.99 and $6.49, respectively) which come on house-made corn tortillas. Both kinds of meat were good—tender and with a nice, picante tang. We’ll look forward to seeing Poblano learn that it doesn’t need to imitate Chipotle as the Mount Vernon masses flock in, glad to finally have a decent burrito.