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Oct 15, 2007 03:29 PM

Delicious New Find at El Portal, Pasadena

Okay, so when I go to El Portal I usually stick with the Poc Chuc or the Conchinita Pibil. However, last week I was in the mood for a burrito. So, in true WS form, I asked the waiter which he preferred - the Carne Asada or the Fajitas Burrito. After some coaxing, he told me that he always eats the Carne Asada. Sold! Now, I never expect anything spectacular out of a CA burrito at any of those large-ish Mexican restaurants as I usually find the meat to be unseasoned, unflavored, over cooked and dry.
However, this burrito was the exact opposite of that. The abundance of flavor of the meat hit me smack in the tastebuds. I took one bite and shoved the plate over to my lunch companion and told her she HAD TO TASTE THIS MEAT!! She promptly obliged and her face took on a look of wonder. Yes! Delicious, seasoned, flavorful, succulent, juicy, delicious (did I already say that??!!) meat. SO GOOD! I ate the entire thing. I asked the waiter what seasonings they used and he said lime, salt, pepper, some Yucatecan seasonings (not Achiote - I think it started with an M).
I have been craving another one since that same day and plotting when I can get away to go eat it again!
So, next time you are at El Portal, just once, forego the Yucatecan specialties (which they do very well) and try this burrito. I just think that it will become a favorite for you as well!

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      1. re: ipsedixit

        It's on both, actually - it's in the arcade that fronts on Colorado, and opens in back into a parking lot on Green. Between El Molino and Oak Knoll. I think of it as being on Colorado because we usually go there on foot from Vroman's or the Laemmle Playhouse.

      1. re: Kevitivity

        I know it had beans and I asked for them to put cheese inside (it also came with cheese and red sauce on top). I think I remember salsa being inside it. No rice (that came on the side). Damn, I am going to try to talk someone into going there with me for lunch today. I need another one!! ;-)

      2. I went to El Portal for the first time this weeknd and found their Carne Asada inedbile. It was overly dried out and chewy. My dining comapnions meal was average too. Two entrees, two soft drinks and tip ran over $40. I won't be going back. It's a total tourist trap.

        5 Replies
        1. re: orythedog

          That's too bad. The day I had it in the burrito it was succulent, juicy and flavorful. I will be going again today, so I can see if it is consistent. Thanks for the notification that it is not always so. I only have had it that one time. I am hoping that it was a fluke and not the norm.

          1. re: WildSwede

            I've never had a bad meal there, but they are awfully uneven. One plate of cochinita pibil had some pork in it that could have been cut from a cotton clothesline, though that never happened again.

            1. re: Will Owen

              Interesting. I just got back from lunch there a little while ago and the carne asada in my burrito was just as delicious as it was last week. The meat was tender and flavorful - not overcooked in the least. This time, I asked them to put some of the achiote paste into the burrito as well. I got the 411 on what they marinade the meat in and it is: salt, pepper, garlic, lime and recado negro. Deelishus!!
              On another note, my friend ordered the vegetarian fajitas and it came with achiote on it (so the sauce was a deep ruby red color). As she is from the Yucatan, she was very excited about this and promptly proclaimed them the best fajitas she has ever had (and she has had a lot, believe me - this is usually what she orders)! It was very flavorful.

          2. re: orythedog

            I don't understand the whole "tourist trap" comment. This place is essentially hidden on Green Street and is not in Old Town, so how can it be considered a tourist spot?

            1. re: nd33x

              I thought the same thing, but one person's tourist trap... Maybe they are mistaking it for somewhere else?