El Paisano Market is not your average neighborhood convenience store. Located within walking distance of the eastern edge of ASU's Tempe campus, the store is impressively well-stocked with all the tools and provisions generally associated with an interesting college experience. I'm talking high-quality bongs and glass pipes, cigars, and plenty of liquor.
The main attraction at El Paisano, though, is a small Mexican eatery within the store.
El Paisano Market Mexican Food is a small, counter-service kitchen that stays open until long after midnight. On a recent weeknight, there was an impressive crowd lined up at the counter, waiting for sustenance in the form of oversize burritos and quesadillas.
El Paisano specializes in drunk food of the highest order — deep-fried, extra-cheesy fare that makes Filibertos look subtle and refined. In other words, El Paisano is home to some of the most playful and twisty late-night Mexican food in Tempe.
On the menu, you'll find Hot Cheetos nachos and Doritos nachos (there's a whole specialty nachos menu). You'll also find quesadillas, massive burritos, and even a few non-Mexican comfort foods like burgers and fish and chips.
Every month, the restaurant offers a "Burrito of the Month" option, which for the month of November is El Trumparito. El Trumparito, like the muse that inspired its creation, is an orange-hued monstrosity. It's bigger than your pocketbook and generously stuffed with Buffalo chicken, French fries, and shovelfuls of Mexican rice. The whole thing is deliciously sluiced with ranch sauce. For a half-buck more, you can get the burrito served Pence-style — smothered in nacho cheese and red salsa.
The burrito, which oozes cheese and sauce, is probably not the best burrito you've ever had. But it's not the worst, either. It's lush and flavorful and filling, which is exactly what you crave after a late-night "study session."
You only have a few days left to try El Trumparito, unless popular demand keeps it around longer. Sometimes, the restaurant retires past burritos-of-the-month to its "Burrito Hall of Fame."
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One such Hall of Famer is the Fiji burrito, which I tried on a recent visit. It's loaded with your choice of steak or chicken, tater tots, a few slivers of pineapple, some fresh avocado, and pico. Like most dishes here, it's also lavished with shredded cheese.
All your cares and troubles seem to disappear when you're eating something like the Fiji, which is extravagantly flavorful and hearty. You don't so much eat it as you make a dent in it. It's a burrito that reminds you of all the generosity and abundance in the universe.
Not bad for $7.99, plus tax.
El Paisano Market. 1035 East Lemon Street, Tempe; 480-557-5000
Every day 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m.