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La Burrita Restaurant

When lunchtime rolls around during the work week your choices may include the sandwich you made at home that morning or last night's dinner, warmed over in the company microwave. Or, you can head out of your cubicle, out of the building and into the non-fluorescent light of day in search of a meal prepared by someone else just for you.

With that in mind, I co-opted a co-worker and set out in quest of our favorite comfort food: cheese. And what better place to round up some soul-comforting cheese but a Mexican restaurant?

The choices are many and I have my favorites within walking distance. But this time I decided to hop in the car and venture up Main Street past Blackbird's and across the street from Bi-Mart to La Burrita.

La Burrita, it turns out, is a favorite among many of the people I work with. It's a place some frequent regularly, while for others it holds fond memories.

The trouble with having a restaurant you visit often is that you always end up ordering the same thing. For me, when I'm in a Mexican restaurant, I invariably get a combination plate: a chile relleno and a cheese enchilada — with rice and beans, of course. For my dining companion, it's a quesadilla — rice and beans optional.

That's what happened this time when we were in La Burrita. There we sat munching our chips with two kinds of salsa under a terra cotta tiled faux roof over our booth, with washed terra cotta stuccoed walls and a darker, earthen-red floor. We looked at the menu as if today our order would be different from the last time we were here.

As might be expected in a place called "La Burrita," there were 10 different kinds of burritos for around $6 each and 10 super burritos with more goodies for a few dollars more. Not today, thank you. Even our friendly waiter's announcement that the special was chimichangas was to no avail.

We came for cheese.

The quesadilla listing in the menu promised "with lots of cheese." And for $7.25, it included rice and beans. The combination plate was $10.25 for any two selections with rice and beans. Three selections would have cost $12.25 and would have been enough for both of us. The price for the plates are the same at dinner as they are for lunch. I like that.

The extensive menu includes a number of meat and fish dishes as well as tacos, tamales ("we make them here") and fajitas.

Our drinks were $1.75 apiece. My companion had a soft drink and I had my usual: an Arnold Palmer — with no ice. The combination of iced tea and lemonade was just right. Not too sweet and not too bitter, in fact a little more on the bitter side than the sweet, which is just the way I like it.

When the food came, it was hot. Stove hot, not microwave hot. As advertised, the quesadilla was very cheesy. And my companion pronounced it "very good." He was pleasantly surprised that it came with rice and beans, as it doesn't always come that way. The tortilla was soft and tasty and he had plenty to eat.

The menu said my enchilada would come with green or red sauce. As I didn't specify, it came with red, which was just fine.

I'm not a Mexican food connoisseur, but I have heard that you can tell a good restaurant by its rellenos. Mine was homemade with a fresh pepper and covered with a thick red sauce. The egg coating was just the right thickness, as if the pepper had been wrapped in a thin omelet. What I wasn't expecting was the flavor of the sauce. Its taste suggested a spicy version of an Italian marinara sauce like you would find served over an eggplant or veal Parmesan.

The combination of the fresh pepper, egg wrapping and spicy sauce was exceptionally delicious. That chile relleno has now become the standard by which I will judge other chile rellenos.

The rice and beans were more predictable, flavorwise.

La Burrita also specializes in authentic Mexican catering "for every occasion."

I'll be coming back to La Burrita, and so will my dining companion. And yes, we already know what we're going to have.

— Richard Moeschl