Edrito’s Burritos gives us what we’ve been clamoring for:
Good Cheap Healthy Food!

by Laura McClusky and Mike Niman

Buffalo Gazette Culinary Arts Critics

Please Note: Endritos Moved to Main St south of Chippewa (2004)

  It’s not often these days that restaurateurs actually open the types of restaurants we want and need.  More often than not, they open businesses that offer “more of the same” - restaurants that are copies of restaurants serving more or less the same fare and chasing the same diminishing market.  This is especially true on Elmwood Avenue, a street often heralded as “Buffalo’s signature strip.”   The latest offender is a glorified café with the pretentious name, “Bistro Vite,”  which promised to deliver food that was fast, healthy and affordable.  When it opened, however, what we got was an inferior knock-off of Café Aroma; an already existing business located less than one block away.

Bistro compliments their limited café menu with odd little tomato pies, which they refer to as “personal pizzas,” no doubt a dated play on the 1980s marketing craze which brought us “personal luxury cars” and “personal computers.”  The problem again is this – there are three pizzerias and three cafés within three blocks of Bistro Vite.  The obvious question is, what’s the point of opening this business?  In their quest to undermine established neighboring businesses, Bistro’s owners have condemned themselves to failure. 

In the middle of this Elmwood morass, Edrito's Burritos provides a long-needed breath of fresh air (and great food!).  Like Bistro Vite, Edrito’s opened this past summer.  While the Bistro sported an empty sidewalk patio, Edrito’s drew attention with their sombrero-clad hawkers passing out menus to motorists and pedestrians.  The shop is modest, opened in a small cinderblock building which formally housed an ice cream shop and before that, a Souvlaki shop.

Edrito’s menu is simple, basically six types of burritos, tacos and taco salads based on either steak, ground beef, marinated grilled chicken, grilled vegetables or slow-cooked black or pinto beans.  Their food is made fresh daily from top quality produce and choice cuts of meat.  “Fresh” is part of what Edrito’s is all about.  Talk to them and they’re quick to boast that they don’t use freezers or frozen food, nor do they use microwaves.  They also don’t use MSG or lard. The result is a healthy lean quality product.  

There’re three reasons to eat here: taste, health and value.  This is great food.  Yes, we’ve been starving for a good burrito and we’re glad it’s finally here.  The steak is lean (read: low-fat, healthy)  “char-grilled” choice beef shaved into bite-sized morsels.  The chicken is prepared in a similar fashion from skinless chicken breasts.  The veggies are a grilled mix of zucchini, yellow squash and eggplant.  Vegetarians also have their choice of pinto or black beans, both served in a delicately spiced broth.  The beans are slow-cooked from dried beans.  Those of you who are followers of the European or Native American slow-foods movements will appreciate this extremely healthy and digestible treat, rich with proteins and fiber. 

Burritos are constructed beginning with an oversized white or whole wheat tortilla.  Endrito’s food artists lay down a bed of cilantro-lime rice (this is Endrito’s weak spot – the rice is rather bland, needing more cilantro and lime), then lay down a serving of meat, your choice of beans, cheese or sour cream, lettuce, two types of peppers, red onions, and your choice of three home cooked salsas including their own over-the-top hot chipolte pepper sauce.  The end result is a HUGE burrito.  If you are new to Edrito’s, let them know so they can give you instruction on how to eat this monster.  Basically, the foil wrapping is a structural component holding the whole thing together.  You sit the burrito standing up and peel away foil layer by layer as you eat.  Half way to the bottom you stop and wrap up the leftovers for your next meal – which will probably be a knife and fork affair.

Steak burritos cost $4.99.  Straight bean jobs cost $3.49 and constitute a best buy and one of Buffalo’s healthiest take-out meals.  Edrito’s tacos are considerably smaller than the burritos since they don’t have rice nor beans.  When Edrito’s first opened, the tacos were downright skimpy, but have since seemed to grow.  Three tacos cost the same as one burrito but provide a considerably smaller, albeit meatier, meal.  We’ve been back to Edrito’s many times but have yet to taste the ground beef – having become somewhat stuck on the addictive steak burritos and tacos.  Edrito’s also serves salads and “rice bowls,” which are basically a burritoized play on the open souvlaki concept.

Endrito’s, though new, is already thriving.  They are living proof that a small low overhead restaurant serving an affordable healthy tasty product will thrive in this town.  They still haven’t, however, filled our need for good high quality sit-down style Mexican food.  Entrepreneurs take note – Buffalo is starving for this stuff.  The nearest authentic quality Mexican restaurant that we know of is Connie’s in Auburn, New York.  Mexican food lovers also take note: with all their magnifico meals costing $5.75 or less, it might be worth the trip.  Hopefully one of you will bring back a few recipes and give Buffalo another Mexican success story.  When Bistro Vite finally folds, it will provide an excellent recently renovated empty storefront which would be ideal for just such a venture.  Maybe Endrito’s success can spur a new wave of Mexican restaurants here in Buffalo.

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