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Battlefield NYC: The Great Burrito Wars of 2010

Battlefield NYC: The Great Burrito Wars of 2010



I like burritos.  More accurately, I fucking love burritos.  I probably consume more of them than anyone in the United States.  (To clarify: I’m suggesting that burritos make up a higher percentage of my meals, not that I consume a higher gross tonnage of burritos than anyone else in the US – that would be foolish.  Also, I’m lumping tacos in the “burrito” category because soft tacos are effectively the safe thing.  I prefer to get the semantics out of the way early.)  Roughly 82% of my meals are burrito-focused; if you want to consider slight variants that are essentially the same thing (halal food: gyro, rice, hot sauce, pita; vindaloo: spicy chicken, rice, naan) then I’m running on something like 96% burritos.

I wanted to firmly establish my burrito cred, because what I am about to offer is going to be controversial: the burrito situation in New York has gotten out of hand.  Burrito shops are springing from the ground like the buzzards in Joust.  A Chipotle just opened that is three streets down from my apartment.  There’s a Qdoba that’s zero streets down from my apartment.  There’s an auxiliary Chipotle two avenues and zero streets from my apartment.  There’s a double redundancy spare auxiliary Chipotle four streets and one avenue from my apartment.  The recently opened Baja Fresh in midtown has a delivery range so massive that I suspect they’ve deployed the corporate helicopter fleet to participate in the burrito market share grab.  A recently opened taqueria was profiled in the New York Times.  Burrito shop proprietors: you can cool it with the NYC expansion for now; there is currently about a 1:1 person : burrito shop ratio here.


An all-too-frequent sight


Back when I was among the working elite, I’d frequently organize treks to the nearest Chipotle.  Back in 2007-8, it was a revelatory experience, walking roughly two miles there and two miles back, mingling with the other working stiffs, and savoring a lovingly prepared burrito.  It felt like a treat, a little escape from the numbing grind of the finance world.  Now, I would be astonished if there wasn’t a Chi-pot located right in the Tribeca lobby, manned not by a team of passionate burrito-assembling associates, but by mindless drones who don’t listen to the words emanating from your mouth as they slop some shit together haphazardly.  Were the lessons of Boston Market, Krispy Kreme and others lost on the management of these establishments?  Preserve the experience.

Take a look at Anna’s Taqueria in Boston – that’s the perfect model.  A handful of locations throughout the city, uniformly excellent staff well-equipped to handle the throngs of customers, who are happy just to be there and  to enjoy something special and delicious.  A shoddy Qdoble Fresh on every corner does not a Burrito Mecca make.  And, the pool of talented burrito assemblers is only so deep.  The fuckers at Qdoba are eschewing the traditional cylindrical shape of the burrito in favor of some square looking nightmare guaranteed to turn into a huge fucking mess.  Chipotle once benefited from a trip there seeming special – almost Anna’s-like – but they and their compatriots  are diluting the shit out of the burrito experience.  (If you have about three hours to kill, you can check out the Chipotle difficulties this crazy fuck is experiencing in Orlando.  Tremendously entertaining, but  then again, I have a lot of time on my hands.)

The new Chipotle right in the heart of Chelsea has its work cut out for it.  The guys in Chelsea spend about the same amount of time mulling their salsa choices as they would going through the sweater rack at a Barney’s sale.  Read this if you don’t know how to fucking order.  This new Chipotle also appears to serve mixed fucking drinks?!?  I’ve always seen “margaritas” on the menu but have never seen anyone order one.  Yesterday while checking out the new place some douche ordered an Izze and Absolute (after taking about 17 minutes to order his six fucking tacos).  If you are getting drunk at Chipotle, you are doing it wrong.

Here’s how I would rank the burritos available in NYC right now (not including actual sit down restaurants):

1.  Chilly17 homemade burritos (not widely available)

2.  El Sabor Del Taco truck – 6th Ave and 19th Street, spicy carnitas are fucking divine

3.  Dos Toros Taqueria – The NYT review was pretty spot on, need to do a little more work here but the carne asada was probably the best I’ve had outside of SoCal and the chicken was legit as well)

4.  Chipotle – I’ve eaten so many that I’m getting a little burned out, plus they’ve diluted their talent pool so much that the quality pales compared to even two years ago

5.  Qdoba – I’ll prob come back around fellas, and I’m sure your senior management is looking at my Qdoba card in astonishment pondering Vegas-level comps to keep me involved, but the lackadaisical attitude of everyone involved and resultant shitty square burritos has put you in the doghouse.

Burrito or dumpling? Hard to say at Q


Not ranked: Taco Bell, because it’s a pain in the ass to get over there and no one ever wants to go with me and it makes it easier to justify going overboard when I’m home.  Baja Fresh, because if you get delivery from an area that would be a $16 cab ride to get to, your food is gonna be pretty cold and the order likely fucked up.   BF is pretty solid in person but I can’t make go that far for a burrito and delivery is a poor choice for burritos even if they don’t fuck it up and it doesn’t take three hours to get to you.


I’ve gotta run, somebody’s trying to put a Chipotle in our half bath,

Chilly17, wasted potential

Getting Resolute

Getting Resolute




Glad to be back in NYC and out of that forever-75-degree hellhole, Los Angeles.  An endless stream of delicious mexican food – chili verde as far as the eye can see – who would ever want to live there?  You’d always feel bad about not going for a run outside and would have to spend considerable time on the golf course and by the pool.  Ick…  Dammit.

Anyway, I’m back in action.  Wall Street bonus season is here, and I expect the public outcry to be loud and sustained.  I predict at least one “banker” will be attacked by one of the outraged many.  This “banker” will most likely be a bank teller, but remember me when the incident is all over the airwaves.  In some ways I feel a little bad about not going back to work on the Street given the (unforeseen by me) immediate return of pay to nosebleed levels.  But then I remember how much I hated the day-to-day travel, stress, bitching, constant exposure to assholes, etc. and recall how I have none of those issues now and can do whatever I want (except eat decent chili verde, why does NYC mexican food suck so much?).  So I will be an interested bystander for bonus season; I suppose if there is a stampede for my services I will have to consider my options, but having been out of the game for 13 months I’m probably a better fit for a YUM Brands outfit.

If you are wondering what the point of this entry is, I will save you a little time: there is no point.  I’m having a little bit of the old writer’s block – I think this is attributable to that fucking New Year’s party.  I’m almost certain I still couldn’t pass a breathalyzer.  Actually, I guess the point of this is to provide a (late) list of my New Year’s Resolutions.  That makes sense given the title and all.  I make resolutions infrequently, but one of my best years ever was 1993 when my only resolution was to listen to more Billy Idol.  Ironically, the spectre of Billy I led to less, rather than more, dancing with myself.  So I’m gonna fire some up for 2010.


Chilly’s 2010 New Year’s Resolutions


1. Spend zero hours in a casino (virtual or brick and mortar). In 2009, I basically acted like a 17 year old on perpetual summer vacation, who had access to a great expense account.  This year, I’m gonna up the ante and act a little more responsible, somewhere in the twenty to twenty-one year old range.  This is no layup, as I fucking love casinos, but they just amplify my vices too dramatically: way too much drinking, yelling, second hand smoking (I’ve prob got the lungs of a three pack a day guy after spending basically a full month of 2009 in casinos), an easing of my risk tolerance profile.  I’m gonna try and be a little more productive – maybe even a little commercial – this year.

The fucking casinos aren’t making it easy though, offering to fly me to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, weeklong cruises, more Vegas tempations.  Arrgh.


2. Learn to moonwalk. People are always giving me shit for being a dorky white guy, learning to MW will certainly tilt the scales of coolness back in my favor.  Plus, it will give me more cause to wear the fucking $500 ferragamos that are chillin in the closet.  They provide effectively the same traction as socks.


3. Give some dough to charity.  I’m trying to take my trading more seriously this year and as such plan to give 5% of my monthly profits to a charity of some sort.  (If I lose money in a given month, I’ll go outside and harass some homeless guys to reimburse 5% of my losses.)


4.  Invest a little more time in wastedpo. It’s harder than you think to maintain a website, sometimes you have to bust out some stream of consciousness crap like this just to eke out a post.  I averaged almost exactly three posts per week for 2009 which was something of an accomplishment – most websites like this (that aren’t link-based and have no clear focus) don’t seem to make it much longer than three months.  I need this friggin writer’s block to clear though if I wanna maintain 3x – right now, I am struggling.



Fries with cheese curds and gravy? Fuckin A, Canada - nice work! Will make #7 tougher, but worth it for the sake of #5



5. Be more tolerant of Canadians. As an olive branch, I plan to try some poutine and Tim Horton’s.  I won’t make the ultimate sacrifice and learn about hockey, so I will never be able to participate in 100% of Canadian conversations, but the cheese/gravy fries and donut combo should prep me for about 50% of Canuck topics.


6.  Watch less Gary, Unmarried. Our DVR will not friggin quit recording it.  You are not the boss of me, DVR.  (And has a show ever changed its set up so much after one season?  Jaime King and Ed Begley were not the problem, CBS.  Jaime King is rarely the problem.)


7.  Be less unhealthy, in general. I’m not going to set some unrealistic goals like “lose 30 pounds” or “do a pullup.”  In 2009 I worked out quite a lot, but my physical condition actually deteriorated.  Why?  One, I’m old as shit and there’s nowhere to go but down.  Two, having two bottles of wine after hitting the gym for a robust three mile run kind of mutes the impact of the run.  A little more booze moderation will help and in conjunction with resolution #1 will hopefully keep me out of the hospital (especially since I may have no insurance soon!)


8.  Stop my practice of assuming of immediately that everyone is an idiot. This does not extend to people I already know, of course.  Most of them have already proven my hypothesis correct.  But I’m gonna try and give strangers a little bit more of the benefit of my doubt.  Unfortunately, people like the 17-minute-Chipotle-orderer I ran into today are already making this one tough.



Should be a page turner



9.  Read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Everyone has been telling me how great it is; I tried reading this last year and was pretty confused given that about 73 different names were introduced in the first chapter.  When I’m reading, it takes me some serious time to visualize a person to associate with a name, so give me a gradual character introduction process and it’s manageable.  Also, that shit about flowers was boring – more girls, more tattoos, more dragons.


10.  Figure out where I put The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. SO has about 11,532 books on her bookshelves, so I cannot be sure it’s not there somewhere.  But I’ve looked a few times, and I don’t see that fucker.


Gotta get through this,

Chilly17, wasted potential (z)

A Day in The Life: Solo Saturday

A Day in The Life: Solo Saturday

(Editor’s Note: Since SO is out of town, I have been ravaging the city bachelor style for the last five days.  I thought since I’ve been so lazy I should emit a special weekend post giving a glimpse into the bacchanalia – do not try this at home)

9:38 AM: Awaken early and clear-headed, even after a wild 6:00 PM dinner the previous night that included an entire Corona and some lamb vindaloo.  First time with the lamb ‘lol, pretty tasty.  Props to the lady at the restaurant who dropped the history of vindaloo on us as we left.  Knowing a little about the culture that developed your favorite animal/hot sauce/bread dish really adds to the ingestion experience.


loodicrously delishus
Vindaloodicrous


Saturday

9:48 AM: Lot of shit to deal with today – exterminators coming to drop some precautionary bedbug bombs, sometime between 9:00 AM and 12:00 Noon.  Since when do exterminators need a 3 hour window like the fucking cable guys?  I didn’t realize exterminating was a monopoly business that could hold an entire apartment building hostage on a muggy August weekend?

9:50 AM: Survey the apartment’s landscape: 309 napkins in various states of use, several bags from well-respected chain restaurants, 14 empty jugs of wine, persistent (and sadly, permanent) cat odor, garbage cans overflowing, unopened mail covering every available flat surface.  Fuck.

9:51 AM: It’s time to get straight gangster on this shithole.  Throw all garbage outside, where it is already 134 degrees with 170% humidity.  Don’t see any exterminators, maybe they start upstairs?

10:20 AM: Fire up the dreaded device: the shredder.  Musical accompaniment: Chubb Rock (“Treat ‘Em Right” is horrificly underrated.)  Determine that if casinos simply sent me a check for the amount they spend on printing, postage etc for every offer they send me, my income solely from gambling mailings would be $117,000 annually.



10:45 AM: Shredder making odd noises and possibly emitting some smoke.  Hmmm….actually was just a small cloud caused by the extreme humidity and a temperature inversion.  Crisis averted.

10:53 AM: Review another casino offer where they will give me $1,200 in chips just to show up.  Another says I get a $1,000 Saks gift card just for walking into their casino.  Come to the conclusions that: 1) I am a terrible gambler, and 2) Gift card is meaningless as I wear the same shorts every day and alternate one of two t-shirts.

11:15 AM: Man I’m fucking starving – where are those bastards?  I’ve got to get out of here for two hours after they spray their noxious mixtures all over the place, so that’s when I need to eat to kill time.  A shower would be a good thing, but I don’t seize the moment.

11:16 AM: I don’t think they’re coming, so if I keep going this place will be sparkling clean, I can grab a burrito and take a well-deserved nap.  I’ll shower after I eat as I’m certain I will sweat away 8-9 pounds just walking to Chipotle in this concrete inferno.

11:45 AM: Notice eight people angrily sitting on stoop as I take out the last seven bags of shreddings.  They tell me the exterminators are late.  No shit – if they aren’t here in ten minutes I’m out of this motherfucker.

11:55 AM: As I head out to Chipotle, I see the dreaded visage of extremely-late-in-the-three-hour-window-arriving exterminators.  They may as well have been terminators – now I wasn’t going to be able to shower AND eat a ‘rito while enjoying some Talk Soup.

11:56 AM: Conclude my day is fucked.  Sweat dripping from ears only 40 seconds into my eight minute walk.

11:59 AM: Seek out shade and water.

12:01 PM: Wallet now entirely soaked in sweat.  Am leaving Hansel and Gretelish trail of sweat in my wake should I get lost.

12:04 PM: Chipotle, or an unoriginal mirage, appears on the horizon (barely visible through the humidity and suffering.)

12:05 PM: No line at noon?  Clearly everyone else died in transit.

12:15 PM: Return trip goes smoothly, my electrolyte levels should return to normal after a couple of IVs.

12:16 PM: Sulk momentarily at the thought of ‘terminators interrupting my meal.

12:17 PM: Grapefruit Izze is more manly than it sounds.  And delicious.


Surprisingly refreshing and non-ghey
Surprisingly refreshing and non-ghey


12:25 PM: Joel McHale is fucking hilarious.  Seriously.  Soup and Chipot is good for the soul.  Ponder how McHale will balance The Soup and new (and already critically well-regarded) sitcom Community?

12:45 PM: Maybe those fucking exterminators bailed since they were late?

12:52 PM: Assume nap-taking position.

12:53 PM: Knock, knock.  Fuck.

12:54 PM: Throw The Cat That Is Afraid Of Everything out on the patio.  15% chance he’ll make a run for it and be lost forever.  Fingers crossed.

12:55 PM: Realize that fear of paper, shadows, etc. doesn’t bode well for impulsive decision to scale six foot walls and explore the neighborhood.  Dammit.

1:00 PM: Barred from the house for two hours.  Standing outside in sweltering heat, stuffed to the gills with chicken/cheese/rice/tortilla/chips/salsa, wearing clothes from two days ago and in desperate need for of a shower.

1:01 PM: Note that hair looks as if I’ve just administered a can or so of mousse to it.  A health-conscious cannibal would have to blot me down with napkins before consuming me.

1:02 PM: Decide to man up and seize the day.

1:05 PM: Goddamit, is it raining?  Or did the humidity finally say fuck it and officially turn into water?

1:06 PM: Wonder if there’s a scientific explanation for how it’s both raining and getting hotter and humider?  Of the 100% wetness of my clothing, I can’t clearly break down the responsible party, but I would estimate it’s 78% sweat, 22% rain.

1:07 PM: Buy NY Post.

1:10 PM: Buy pint of Stella at Jake’s Saloon.  Make peculiar decision to sit at front of saloon, where it is not air-conditioned.

2:19 PM: Go to restroom.  Observe that I look like heroin addict who’s just run a 10K.  Also note that I haven’t worn anything other than flipflops since returning from Africa (except running shoes when, you know, running).  Flipflops covered in a grimy substance that has the look and viscosity of Predator saliva.


Sweat looks okay on some people
Sweat looks okay on some people


2:30 PM: Hit Best Buy to check out the new shit.  MLB 2K9 looks exactly like an actual baseball game.  If I thought I would devote the seven months needed to play it, I might buy it.  Instead, I will play the Batman: Arkham Asylum demo when the need hits.

2:50 PM: Ten minutes to kill, time to be productive.  Go to the non-judgmental liquor store and pick up a jug of Yellow Tail Cab/Shiraz.  That’s the purple label, yo.  Won’t drink it all, but good to have on hand.

3:00 PM: Return to apartment – it doesn’t even remotely smell like chemicals.  WTF?  They probably just sprayed some tonic water around and charged $21k.  Fucking bedbugs.

3:10 PM: Fucking cat still here.  Dammit.

3:12 PM: Take first of a series of showers.  Estimate that socially acceptable hygiene levels will be restored after the sixth shower.

3:30 PM: Finally, a nap.  Arrrhrhghghgh!  Remember that took all the sheets and stuff off the bed from fear that they actually shoot toxic fireballs into your bed or something.  Now have to remake that shit.

6:00 PM: Finish series of showers.  Rest levels high.  Day looking up.  Time for a trip to the gym.

6:01 PM: Gym?  Or maybe I’ve had enough today, and should order a pizza?

6:01:02 PM: Yes, reward yourself.

6:03 PM: Despite presence of numerous independent and delicious pizzerias, find myself debating offers from two long-time friends (and contributors to obesity): Domino’s and Papa John’s.

6:04 PM: As a healthful compromise, I decide to forgo the spicy italian goodness of PJ’s for some boneless wings and a large thin crust at Domino’s.   The fact that my body had been recently covered in sweat that closely resembled PJ’s garlic sauce also aided my decision.

6:07 PM: Domino’s online ordering is insane.  It shows exactly what’s going on at every step.  Thankfully there’s no “preparer takes care of itchy genitals before assembling your pizza” graphic.

6:18 PM: Pizza arrives, leave solid 23% tip for expediency.  Open Yellow Tail, a large bottle of Poland Springs, and a Diet Coke with Lime.  Keep your options open.

6:20 PM: Click on a Chelsea Lately.  What the fuck is up with this new Time Warner guide/dvr format?  Bring back the old style, I do not approve either user interface or the look of the screen.  I hate the font too.  Realize I should have ordered some Cinnastix.


They tast 15x better than they look
They tast 15x better than they look


6:25 PM: Having eaten a modest 1/3 of the pizza and maybe 34% of the wings, I put the food away.

6:26 PM: What now?  Hmmm, I guess I could play a little online poker while I’m figuring out what to do.  I’d remembered a week or so ago that I had $400 on a site and had run that up a little bit to a couple of grand.

6:30 PM: A $200 sit-n-go fills up.  I theorize that people reach in these situations and take a shot before going out on a Saturday.  (Sit-n-gos are six or nine man tournaments where the top two or three get paid, so a $200 6-man pays $840 for 1st and $360 for 2nd)

7:15 PM: I finish second in two sngs, and am up a couple hondo.

8:20 PM: Fucking A, you know what’s not that far from here?  Atlantic City.  Hmmm….there’s this sweet train now…

8:30 PM: You know what this party needs?  Yep, MC Hammer, Garbage and Kriss Kross.  90’s ruled.

8:43 PM: Pizza now 80% gone.

9:00 PM: Start seeking out any and everyone who might want to make a spur-of-the-moment trip to AC.

9:15 PM: Send text to degenerate I barely know who had drunkenly suggested AC trip a month ago.  No response.

9:34 PM: Incorrectly read train schedule, realize that next one is at midnight.  Shit.

9:45 PM: Nobody’s down with AC.  Where’d all that Yellow Tail go?  Shit, why is my account suddenly down?  I was winning?


The place where good decisions go to die
The place where good decisions go to die


9:57 PM: Pizza is 100% gone.

10:10 PM: Why am I opening the dreaded Online Blackjack application at the poker site?  That’s fucking stupid.

10:16 PM: Maybe some Heavy D & the Boyz will turn this shit around.  You can’t see what I can see.

10:30 PM: Why am I now playing $100/hand online blackjack that I’m 100% sure is rigged?

10:45 PM: Fuck it, will try another $500.  I mean if my bankroll is fucked, who cares?  Probably can’t take the money out anyway with all the legal bullshit going on with online poker – Barney Frank or somebody I think personally looks at all the transfers from those sites, no matter how.  Wait, no, Barney Frank is a proponent of online poker.  So maybe Maxine Waters reviews the monetary situation or something.  Whatevs, it’s not looking good for the kid.

11:03 PM: Miraculously win 8 hands in a row, several at table max.  Even more miraculously, quit the stupid blackjack game.  Look at account and relieved to find I have exactly what I started the night with.

11:08 PM: Head back to the non-judgmental liquor store for another jug of Y-Tail.  Won’t drink it all, but good to have on hand.

11:15 PM: Wait for $200 sng to fill up.

12:03 AM: Win $200 sng for $840.  Fuck $200 sngs – apparently too easy for me.  Wait for $300 sng to fill up.

1:20 AM: Win $300 sng for $1260.  Wait for another $300 sng to fill up.

1:31 AM: Put the following ingredients in a tortilla: boneless chicken nuggets, wing sauce, one slice american cheese, one bag of Cosi potato chips.  Surprisingly delicious and life-affirming.

2:10 AM: Win $300 sng for $1260.  $300 sngs are for pussies (also no one is playing them now), but there are 4 people sitting waiting for a $500 sng to fill up.

3:12 AM: Win $500 sng for $2100.  Man, I’m pretty fucking tired.  Where did all that Y-Tail go?  There’s only about 1/4 jug left?  I probably spilled a lot of that.

3:30 AM: Bust out of my last sng.  Pretty good run though, aside from momentary blackjack idiocy.  Up $3,500 for the night.  All effectively imaginary since withdrawals might have one shipped to Gitmo, but still an uplifting moment. But tired as shit, b.


I’m going out of town Thursday but there will be some 2-3 real-assed posts on this sit this week.  And then things will get really real once August is over and the whole world starts reading goofy websites with abandon once again.


Til then,

Chilly17