By Benjamin Leatherman
Who needs Taco Bell when you've got the Blue Burrito Grille?
Maybe it’s just me, but it seemed abnormally cool and breezy this past weekend. It was toasty, yes, but I wasn’t getting baked by the usually badass late-August temps that melt your teeth. (Maybe Mother Nature was making amends for that mofo of a thunderstorm she dumped on us last Thursday).
I had a little wanderlust as a result, and cruised up north Scottsdale way to hookup with a bro and finally go see The Dark Knight. (Anyone heard anything good about the flick?). I’d also been wanting to check out the Blue Burrito Grille (7318 E. Shea Blvd., 480-951-3151) as my vegetarian friends have raved about the place for years.
The Shea location’s been stuffing veg-heads with lard-free and meat-free Mexican cuisine since opening in 1995. But somehow I’d never sampled the restaurant for myself (even during my four-year experience of vegetarianism a decade ago). Silly me.
Amongst its selection of health-conscious meat- and seafood-laden burritos, tacos and other Hispanic dining staples, the place boasts a half-dozen choices for vegetarians. I went for the veggie burrito, which costs around $5. Inside a deliciously warm flour tortilla (made with vegetable shortening) is a combo of grilled onions and bell peppers, diced tomatoes and lettuce, and a ginormous pile of black beans. Low-fat cheese is also an option (I went without), as are regular pinto beans. You can also choose a spinach or whole wheat tortilla.
A peek under the hood of the veggie burrito.
And while the burrito may have lacked meat, it definitely didn’t lack flavor. The freshly-cooked beans were seasoned with cumin and other spices and hadn’t become plops of paste. The grilled peppers and onions were also quite good, and – thankfully -- weren’t an oily, soggy mess.
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Blue Burrito Grille's veggie fajita bowl.
My friend went meatless for my benefit, getting the veggie fajita bowl, consisting of the same ingredients as my burrito, except with the addition of some tasty Spanish rice. The vegetarian Mexican pizzas and tacos also left me salivating, but since Batman was beckoning, I’ll save ‘em for a return trip. (Hopefully I’ll be able to afford the gas).
Our choices weren’t as stuffed as say, Chipotle’s monster-sized burritos and bowls, but at least they didn’t make us feel like we need a nap after lunch was over. Plus, Blue Burrito Grille is a Valley-owned restaurant, so you can get a side of civic pride with your meal from supporting a local business.