Another Olecito review
- itaunas Mar 19, 2008 10:35 AM
Reviews on Olecito are a bit scattered and I couldn't find a good umbrella topic to report under.
I dropped by for take-out (they only do take-out) a couple days after opening and encourage people to keep in mind they are still in shakedown mode. The 1369 around the corner was packed, but in the 15 minutes I was there Olecito saw about 4 people. No sign outside yet, but passing cars were looking in the picture window. I couldn't tell if they had a full kitchen license (curious to see if they could have a frialator which might have had in the corner). All the ingredients were on a center prep table with one person taking orders and one assembling the food. It looked like they could have two people assembling food, but only one would have access to the press (looked more like a griddle press than a countertop steamer, but not certain) for heating tortillas. Order taking was old-fashioned -- written checks and shouted out orders, no computer tapes (the assembler was reading off ingredients from a cheat sheet beneath the counter). Since its only take out they appeared to have thought about how tortillas travel and no foam clamshells or plastic bags, all paper.
They didn't have any takeout menus. As mentioned the tacos are $2.50 (carnitas, steak, "baja" fried chicken breast, and rajas) -- each taco has a long list of different ingredients (eg "baja" has chipotle mayo and special crema, carnitas pineapple salsa). The Tortas likewise all have long lists of ingredients, but are specified more around styles than filling (eg oxacaquena with oaxacan string cheese, another cheese, etc and my mental note space was exhausted so can't recount them all). Burritos are more straightforward: cheese, crema, rice, beans, pico de gallo, etc (guac I think was on the list, it wasn't in the burrito) -- choice of steak, chicken, carnitas, rajas, etc. Burrito is $5.50. They had mostly jarritos drinks, cidra/non-alc sangria, plus what looked like horchata.
The burrito appeared to come with chips -- they provided a mild blended salsa (beautiful flecks of blended roasted tomato, maybe a touch of vinegar, possibly onion... overall pretty bland: not much salt or cilantro, no pepper). The paper bags of chips that were leaking a bit of grease made me think homemade chips, but they were from a bag and not a very good one at that. Maybe they plan to do them later which is why I was curious about kitchen license/frialator, but was already several blocks away at that point. The steak was quite tasty, but taco a bit overstuffed with various ingredients almost to the point of being a burrito. Steak overall was a really nice break from sazon/goya adobo seasoned fare. In fact the tacos were rolled really tightly in foil and even consumed 5 blocks away, had steamed quite a bit. Tacos were two tortillas. Rajas taco had some guac and was pretty tasty, but also stuffed. Carnitas taco was ordered w/o the pineapple salsa, so they put some pico de gallo. Carnitas itself was quite porky tasting and that was more prominent than the seasoning. However, the pork was not fully tender and possibly because of how it was stored, was more stewed and no crispy bits. The burrito was ordered mild, which could possibly explain the salsa with the chips, but the person eating it quickly found several large chunks of jalepeno in the pico... not spicy but, the recipient had to take it apart to eat around the rice and pico. The burrito itself was nicely proportioned, not large, but not overstuffed with rice like Anna's or Jose's at MIT. Black beans were clearly mexican (salvadoran beans really make a burrito weird for me), some additional spices -- cumin, maybe cinnamon, very lightly salted. Did appear to be crema instead of sour cream, mild cheese.
Overall I have to say it was a pretty mixed experience and somewhat disappointed. The elaborate tacos and tortas reminded me a bit of ASSB -- I really wonder how they are going to whip them out when it gets busy. It was nice to get freshly seasoned food (steak and beans), plus a few tweaks on some things would make it a lot better (salsa for the chips). It was definitely an improvement on some of the salvadoran taquerias for a burrito, but I was not wowed (the related Zocalo has been doing something similar for years, although this was a bit better). Tacos I would prefer a simpler preparation from most others (even the Tropico down the road is better) and the carnitas were a disappointment. And the Torta I have to get around to trying later. That said, they deserved to have a longer line than 1369 (punjab was also empty) and there is some room for improvement, so I suspect that others will find it much more to their liking.
I didn't see a occupancy permit, but there was no sill on the picture window or space on the counter where they could put stools. Plus if it gets busy, the line to order will go out the door and people waiting for orders will fill up the space in front of the door. I didn't see if there was room for patio seating at the side of the building (narrow sidewalk) so perhaps that is a maybe. Across from Punjab there is a park with benches, but not well cared for and usually has a few winos there.