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May 13, 2013 02:09 AM

Burrito King in Salinas

Feels a bit silly to post about a spot named Burrito King without trying what should be the house specialty, but here goes anyway. After my second of two visits, I discovered that it should probably be called Molcajete King instead.

A friend and I shared the molcajete, $18.99, for lunch recently, and were startled and amazed when an outsized platter of food was brought to the table. I mean, both of us were well-familiar with molcajete, a jumble of grilled meats, cactus, and cheese sauced and served in a volcanic rock mortar. But we’d never seen anything like this curtain of nopales, seemingly alive in its swaying movement. The grilled cactus was perfectly cooked, still crisp and not slimy.

The big plate included wonderfully porky refritos flecked with bacon and topped with sweet grilled onions and melted cheese, some wilted green salad, and very spicy red chile salsa.

Some freshly handmade corn tortillas on top of the whole shebang were folded over melted cheese. These added to the over-the-topness of the molcajete.

After eating our fill of grilled chorizo, boneless chicken thighs, delectable carne asada, onions, and cactus folded in those tortilla quesadilla-like thingies, we had barely scratched the surface of the pile of food. The mountain of leftovers overflowed an entire styro box. We agreed that we probably needed at least two other people to give this dish its due.

On my prior visit, I’d tried the huarache al pastor. The fresh masa “sandal” is quite thin here but is made to order. Generously meated, the marinated pork on top of a layer of refritos was garnished with onions, cilantro, sour cream, and cotija, as well as red salsa.

Mom had a taco de pescado, served on a handmade tortilla, and pronounced it “good”.

One curious thing about Burrito King is the flag of Israel on the wall. I asked the manager about it and he said that he respects the nation and hopes that good relations between our countries will continue.

Actually there’s another curious thing that should be mentioned. On both visits I ordered fresh orange juice. Each time what was served me tasted like ice-cold Tropicana, not fresh OJ. When I pointed this out, the offending juice was taken away, oranges were put through the electric juicer, and genuine room temperature fresh-squeezed orange juice was then served to me.

Burrito King
8 Midtown Lane
Salinas, CA 93901
(831) 424-0159

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  1. Melanie, I so enjoy your reviews. I need to ask if you have the scoop about the Israeli flag on the wall.

    1 Reply
    1. re: SIMIHOUND

      Curious, isn't it? There's no Mexican flag displayed here. The answer above is all I got in response to my question.

    2. And all I can think of is that there are a large population of Hispanic folks that love Israel and the Jewish people. You can see this In Boyle Heights, an older part of LA (that used to be a Jewish area now turned mainly to a Hispanic area). I have seen people bringing their children to Jewish funerals in their neighborhood simply out of respect and not because they knew the family.

      1 Reply
      1. re: SIMIHOUND

        Funny you mention Boyle Heights, as I was asked about my own Jewish roots by another chowhound last week. My parents lived there when they were first married, long before I came along. Canter's deli was still on the eastside. This is where my parents developed their taste for pastrami, corned tongue, lox & bagels, and good rye bread, and then passed it on to their children.

      2. Melanie,
        How does this preparation compare to the same dish at Casa del Saison? Love, love, love molcajete!

        4 Replies
        1. re: villadeste92

          Casa del Sazon has more sauce, strips of queso fresco, and the chicken has more grill influence. Burrito King's is larger, tastier seasoning on the carne asada, softer onions, a ton of not very good chorizo, and has more cactus.

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            So if you could only choose one, which would you go for? I really love CASA del Sazon's version

            1. re: karenfinan

              It's a toss-up, just depends on your tastes. Neither is my platonic ideal, but they're more than acceptable.

              If you like carne asada and cactus the most and bigger portions, go for Burrito King's. If you're a chicken kind of gal and want a wetter sauced version, go for Casa del Sazon's.

              Neither is as good as the molcajete at Eva's Cafe (photo linked).

              And the best one I've had is at a place in Greenfield that burned down.

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Oh my, I'll have to try that the next time I am down there!