Thursday, June 21, 2012

Benny's Burrito's: I Ate Like it was 1991!

Man, it's been years. The place where I lost my virginity, no not what you think. The place where I ate my first Burrito, in fact the first place I ever ate Mexican (that's the virginity reference,) and boy does that feel like a long time ago. Probably 1991, or somewhere around then. I was in college, crazy, naive, and followed my friends wherever they went, even to do something I had never done. Initially I was lured there for the cheap and delicious, monster Frozen Strawberry Margarita's, man they were the biggest I ever saw! I was told that it was also a must to include a Benny's Bay Burrito because otherwise the meal would not be complete. Well let me tell you something, I almost threw the whole thing up that very first time. It was an explosion of flavors that I had never experienced before, it was amazing! I was drunk as a skunk and ready to spew black beans and rice all over the sidewalk. So of course I had to go back the very next night! It was like a right of passage. In order to be on the up and up with my group of friends I had to finish the whole thing, Burrito and Margarita, every last drop, not a scrap left, lick-the-plate kind of done. Eventually after four or five visits I was actually able to enjoy it.
My Chicken Burrito From Today
Ok that was an exaggeration. I quickly began to love the Burrito's at Benny's and worked very hard at my part time job to have enough money to go there as often as I could. I never swayed, it was always the Bay Burrito, Chicken with Black Beans, and a gigantic Frozen Strawberry Margarita, can you say brain freeze? For a time Sour Cream and Guacamole was inside the wrapped Burrito, which is the way I prefer, then changed to little cups on the side. Other than that the Burrito stayed the same through the beginning of the 00's. Then, horribly, as if stuck in a terrible nightmare I moved away, far across the United States to a place where Mexican food ran rampant in the streets...Arizona. It was there that I was introduced to other Mexican dishes, none that I care to name, and to Chipotle, a nice try but nothing quite like Benny's. Soon Benny's Burrito's faded from memory into the depths of my vacant brain, to a place where it would hide for over 10 years. 
When I first returned to NYC back in 2007 it was like I was a tourist or something, like I'd forgotten everything I used to know, including great Burrito joints I'd once loved. So when I finally came to my senses and remembered my roots, my Burrito roots, I walked down Greenwich Ave. looking for my Benny's (I actually prefer the East Village locale,) but it was called something else...Blockheads? What? Wait a minute it was also still Benny's too, how could that be?
Thoroughly discouraged I continued walking, passing the establishment with covered eyes, fearing that if I went in I'd surely be disappointed in what they would try to pawn off on me. Soon the clouds above grew into a black mass. Thunder rumbled in the distance. A small pooch crapped in front of me. Was it the end of the world?
Much time passed as I drifted into a food coma...from eating lots of food of course, as I refused to return to what might be a Burrito impostor. Until today that is. So on a sweltering, practically 100 degree day in the Big Apple, I found myself walking down Greenwich Ave. again, only this time with a renewed hope. A vision of splendor that had come to me as I walked down 8th Ave., sweat pouring down my back, jeez it was hot. What was in store for me? I thought. Would the Burrito Gods shine down on a lost brother like myself, and nourish the belly that came empty?..I'd forgotten breakfast. Thankfully my friends I have good news to report. Benny's is back! Gone was the silly moniker of Blockheads and shining in the front window, full of neon beauty, Benny's Burrito's glowed like the blistering sun above...there is a God, I said, a Burrito God, indeed! Honestly it was like stepping into the past. The flavors were there, the smell, it was almost the same, especially since the Sour Cream and Guacamole were back inside the Burrito! Unfortunately a Margarita was not in the cards for me my friends. It was the middle of the day and I had a meeting to go to. The chimes of responsibility rang in my ears putting a damper on what could have been the most wonderfully nostalgic moment in my entire 40 years!  Damn the guy next to me sucking his straw like a baby with a bottle, his Margarita looked so cold and delicious! If I'd had a knife I could have killed a man today! Well, not with the butter knife by my side, that was simply too dull. Ah to be a college kid again, I lamented. 
Seriously folks, for a great MexiCali Burrito, make your way to Benny's Burrito's for a real Burrito experience that is better than Chipotle. Benny's Burrito's is at 113 Greenwich Avenue, which is still apparently affiliated with Blockheads, but there is also another Benny's in the East Village at 93 Avenue A...I don't know the difference, they're both great and have the same logo. Maybe one was lost in a divorce.

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