Review: Someburros! - Tempe, AZ (w/ photos!)
In the great metropolitan area of Phoenix, there are plenty of taco/burrito places that all end with “tos.” Filibertos, Polibertos, Losbetos, Pigeontos, etc. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of them are particularly bad. Of course, they will fill the stomach after a night at the clubs when the only other options are Denny’s or 5 & Diner.
It was music to my ears to discover that there was a place in Tempe called Someburros! that specializes in large burros with a variety of fillings. A few people had mentioned it to me that is “wasn’t bad,” so I was quite happy to try this place and see if it was a notch above the “tos.”
My trek took me to the southeast corner of Baseline Road and Mill Avenue in Tempe, AZ. The eatery was located toward the back of a strip mall with shake roofing and a variety of businesses. I had a tough time finding parking because Someburros! was packed with diners. I did finally snag a space and walked in.
The place was fairly large with many tables and a refill station for drinks. I walked to the counter to order and noticed the very large and comprehensive menu tacked to the wall behind the registers. The featured items were the burros, but I also noticed several other Mexican dishes as well. As I was making up my mind, the cashier pulled out a tray from underneath the counter, grabbed a paper basket and filled it with tortilla chips. She then took my order.
I decided on the Chicken Fundido Burro ($6.35), but I also wanted to try something non-burroish, so I ordered the Chile Relleno ($3.85). To wash it all down, I got a large Diet Coke ($1.85). I paid my bill and the cashier then filled my drink cup, placed it on my tray and then added a bottle of hot sauce. She then handed me a number to place on my table so my food could be brought to me.
I found a table near the front doors and parked myself, diving into the chips and sauce. The chips were, unfortunately, stale. I don’t know how long they had been sitting under the counter, but they were not good. Thankfully, the hot sauce covered up some of the staleness, but I abandoned the chips after a couple. The sauce itself was quite good, with a moderate amount of heat and a pleasant fresh taste that made it stand out.
As I waited for my food, I surveyed the surroundings and they were bright, sunny and cheerful, with each table sporting a pot of fake flowers. The place was very clean and I liked the openess of the dining area.
I waited about 10 minutes before my food arrived. On two separate plates were my burro, complete with rice, and the chile relleno. Both were piping hot and I had great hope about this. They serving sizes were also quite large. I tasted the rice and liked it. It was fluffy and moist and had a nice taste to it because it had been seasoned with a bit of cumin.
I cut a piece of the burro and took a taste. I was not happy at all. What turned me right off to this burro was the fact that the chicken had come straight from a can. The chunks were lightly pink and in large nuggets. I had seen this before and it was from the little tin I use to open to make chicken salad sandwiches for myself when I was a starving college student without any real means of being able to cook any food. Sadly, the canned chicken had “that taste.” I thought the fact that Someburros! used canned chicken pointed to either the place being cheap or lazy, but it was a faux pas that never should have been done.
The cream cheese sauce - the highlight of any fundido dish - was okay, but there was so much of it, it had to be scraped off and used sparingly. I don’t like biting into a brick of Philadelphia cream cheese with my bagel and I certainly didn’t like it here. If I were a cynic, I would say they upped the amount of cheese sauce to hide the canned chicken.
I then turned my attention to the Chile Relleno. This wasn’t just piping hot. It was nuclear. I had to wait a few minutes to let the whole dish cool down or else I would have caused 3rd degree burns on my lips, mouth, etc. When it finally was cool enough to eat, I took my first bite. It was better than the burro, but not by much. While it had all the necessary components of a chile relleno, it was missing the most important factor: taste. This was virtually flavorless. There was cheese and eggs and a chile and a sauce, but even the chile had no distinct taste that my mouth could latch onto. Now, if I were a cynic, I would think they made this flavorless on purpose, so as not to offend anyone.
Disappointed and still hungry, I filled up my soda glass, emptied my tray at the nearest garbage can and left. The total for this luncheon downer was $13.03 including tax. The cashier and the person who brought me my food were both pleasant and friendly. But that didn’t even come close to making this restaurant run a success (although they did have Diet Coke). As I walked to the car, I entertained the idea of going to one of the “tos” restaurants, but decided just to wait it out until dinner.
As I drove around to do some errands, I thought about why this place was so busy when the food was mediocre at best.
Then, I saw something that made me realize that people will often enjoy mediocre food just because the portions are large:
101 East Baseline Road
Tempe, AZ 85283
Hours: Sunday through Thursday - 10:30 AM to 10 PM; Friday and Saturday - 10:30 AM to 11 PM
Notes: There are two other locations in Gilbert and Chandler.
Additional photos can be found at www.feastinginphoenix.com
We live close to the Tempe Someburros and get take-out occasionally. We always get the same thing: red beef burro with beans and cheese. We make them "enchilada style" by using the hot sauce, which we like quite a bit. I'm surprised that you had stale chips - ours have typically been warm and fresh. It isn't the best Mexican food, to be sure, but it usually fulfills the occasional very specific craving for the gringo comfort food version of Mexican food.
I was more surprised about the chips than just about anything else because I was there only about an hour or so after opening. I really thought they would have been fresh, but they were stale, which could mean they were from the day before and weren't properly stored.
If I am in the area again, I will try the red beef "enchilada style" and see where that gets me.
While this doesn’t make the food any better ... you might understand. The family that owns Someburro’s (I think there are now 3 locations in the east valley) were also the founders of Pancho’s Mexican Buffet (or so I thought I had read somewhere). And, some 30 odd years ago the annual birthday feast at Panchos was always highly anticipated. But – in retrospect I believe the excitement stemmed from raising the flag at the end of the meal for Sopapillas – not so much the meal itself.
Yikes....way to create bad PR for yourself as a restaurant owner!
Have to say we tried the Chandler location last week for the first time. Tried the albondigas soup that was advertised....ick. They didn't degrease teh stock at all and then the meatballs added their own dose of grease. Couldn't eat it. Husband had a couple tacos...the oil must not have been hot enough...they were soggy and saturated with grease as well. Both dinners went in the trash and we went home and made popcorn...
Chips and salsa were good tasty though.