"Don't get up gentlemen, I am only passing through"
State 25: Arizona - December 29, 2017
We woke up at a Walmart in Mesa, Arizona well rested and ready for a brand new day! Today we drive 20 miles West back to Phoenix, to try the Cross Country Couple's "Famous Food" for Arizona; Burrito! I know a Burrito not very exotic or original, but there is fabulous Mexican food in Arizona! However, we didn’t just want any burrito, we wanted the absolute best burrito Arizona had to offer! Although there are thousands of Mexican restaurants and food trucks in the state, our burrito had to be vegetarian, which essentially eliminated 95% of our options. In addition, we specifically wanted a restaurant that specialized in burritos, and not one with a massive menu of every type of Mexican food known to man! After hours of reading online reviews one name kept coming up over and over again; Phoenix Burrito House! With 4.5 stars with over 466 reviews, and vegetarian options on the menu, it appeared we had found our burrito!!!
After parking Rosie, we entered Phoenix Burrito House excited about the delicious goodness to come. The restaurant had the set-up of casual dining, and it appeared most of their business is take out! For those whom are dining in, you walked up to the front counter to order your food, and then take a seat in small dining room to the right consisting of 10 tables. The ambiance of the dining area was quite lackluster. The building appeared to have been an auto body shop in a previous life, and the walls in the dining room could have clearly used a fresh coat of paint! However, I didn’t come to Phoenix Burrito House to experience the ambiance of a Mexican villa! I came here for the very best vegetarian burrito Arizona had to offer, and all the reviews said Phoenix Burrito House was the best!
We viewed their online menu in advance, so we knew exactly what we were going to order! The online menu clearly states a veggie burrito comes with eggs, calabacitas, onions, bell peppers, beans, rice, sour cream, cheese, guacamole, lettuce and tomatoes. Sounds delicious to me! Not so fast! The menu on the website and the menu in the restaurant do not match! The veggie burrito on the menu in the restaurant, excluded the eggs, calabacitas, onions, bell peppers and tomatoes, and having each of the aforementioned added would be an extra charge! I was a victim of the dreaded veggie burrito bait and switch! Oh The Humanity!!! I am a detail oriented person. It greatly bothered me their online and in store menus were not copacetic. Not only was this confusing to customers, it reveals details are being overlooked. More often than not, when one messes up on the small things, they are not doing the big things correctly either, and I do not want such a restaurant making my food! It was Oprah Winfrey whom said, “When people show you who they are believe them the first time”. I walked out without placing an order!
While in the parking lot, Lori told me she had searched very hard for the best vegetarian burrito, and asked me to give them another chance! Out of consideration for my wife’s efforts, but against my better judgment, I went back inside, and ordered two of the in store versions of the vegetarian burritos for $7.00 each. I was able to peek inside of the kitchen, and it appeared clean and sanitary. Aside from their menu mix-up, the lady behind the counter taking our order provided the absolute best customer service I had ever experienced anywhere in my entire life! She was so sweet, genuine, attentive, and we felt as if we were members of her family! Since it was our first time in The Phoenix Burrito House, she gave us an order of chips and salsa on the house!
We took a seat at one the nearby tables to wait for our food, and passed the time by crunching away on our complimentary chips and salsa. The salsa and chips were clearly made in house, which is always refreshing to see! The chips were fresh, crispy, and lightly salted. The salsa on the other hand was the hottest food I had ever eaten in my entire life! I am talking esophagus searing, gag reflex inducing, pull the fire alarm and call 911, because I can’t breathe kinda heat!!! This may be subjective as Lori and I have a low tolerance for hot and spicy food, but for us the salsa was inedible! At the very least, this salsa should have come with a warning!
Upon seeing our red faces, perfuse sweating and consistent coughing, our server came over to refill our waters! She casually stated the jalapeno crop this year was a bit hotter than usual, and offered a milder option! The second offered option consisted of a thin red sauce dispensed from a plastic ketchup bottle. We appreciated our servers’ attentiveness! Albeit significantly less hot, the second sauce tasted just like hot wing sauce, which really doesn’t pair well with Mexican food. We decided to just continue to crunch on our plain tortilla chips while waiting for the arrival of our burritos.
Soon thereafter our burrito arrived, which appeared to be a generous portion size. I swished my water in my mouth to cleanse my palate, closed my eyes and took a big bite! All I tasted was dry rice and bland beans! Perhaps the ingredients within the burrito were not evenly distributed, so I took another bite. Once again, I had the same experience of dry rice and bland beans! It wasn’t until I got down to the last 2 inches of the burrito, that I found a single sliver of avocado, a dot of sour cream, and a smidge of cheese! How very disappointing! As silly as this is going to sound, the tortilla itself was the absolute the best either of us had in our entire lives! I can’t even attempt to speculate why the tortilla was so good. You are just going to have to believe me when I say it was just that amazing! It is just too bad that they dropped the ball when it came to the burrito's contents. Please see the pictures below.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of our year long cross country trip is discovering small mom and pops eateries all across America. We very rarely eat at chain restaurants as the food is predictable and boring! We also always prefer to support small local businesses whenever and wherever we can! I think Phoenix Burrito House has awesome customer service, and has clearly earned a reputation in the Greater Phoenix area by offering quality made from scratch Mexican food! I commend the Phoenix Burrito House for at least having vegetarian menu options, since most restaurants don’t even bother! Unfortunately, their veggie burrito was clearly created as an afterthought by someone with very little knowledge in vegetarian cooking! Like Italian, French and Mexican cuisine, vegetarian is also a culinary specialty, which I would encourage the owner and chef to learn more about! Vegetarian food requires close attention to seasoning as it lacks the flavor which comes from animal meat.
Statistically, 3 percent of the US population is vegetarian, and this figure is on the rise! Phoenix is a city of 1,615,017 residents, which equates to approximately 48,450 vegetarians living in the city! As a vegetarian who is traveling across country for a year, I can personally attest to how hard it is to find quality vegetarian menu items when dining out! The number of restaurants whom offer such are far and few between! When I find a restaurant that does offer quality vegetarian cuisine, I am a customer for life!!! An omnivore’s money is just as green as our carnivore counterparts, but omnivores are much more loyal patrons! I am certain almost every vegetarian out there would agree! One last thing, please don’t forget about your vegan, and gluten free customers as well!
After departing the Phoenix Burrito House, we drove across town to the Cross Country Couple's "Made in the USA" Tour; The Stuffington Bear Factory. Although cuddling with a teddy bear on a hot desert night does not really go hand in hand, I could not wait to see how a teddy bear is made. Unfortunately, when we drove by the address of the Stuffington Bear Company, it was out of business! What a bummer! I will have to tour Build a Bear, or the Vermont Teddy Bear Company later in my cross country trip to satisfy my curiosity! I guess there not a huge demand for teddy bears in Arizona after all!
After departing the defunct teddy bear factory, we drove 117 miles North to Sedona, AZ. For years, I have heard of the breathtaking beauty of the red rocks mountains in Sedona. Frankly, I just didn’t see it! Don’t get me wrong, Sedona was by no means ugly and perhaps my representation of beauty is skewed because I have seen so much of America over the last 6 months. What I discovered during my visit to Sedona, was an overcrowded, over commercialized, and over hyped town! There was a 5-dollar charge for parking at each of the scenic overlooks, and when we arrived no parking was available! I had to do a drive by shooting, and snap pictures of points of interest while hanging out the passenger window of Rosie as Nate drove through Sedona. I must have looked absolutely ridiculous! LOL! Although the aforementioned may sound dangerous, we sat in bumper to bumper traffic, on a 2 lane road in Sedona with a series of seemingly endless traffic circles for over 2 hours! I don't think we got out of the van once, so technically we just drove through Sedona! Perhaps if I was able to actually get out and walk around, I would have seen the beauty and felt the energy (the vortex) so many people brag about when thinking of Sedona. Interestingly, for the first time on our cross country trip, the pictures actually came out better on camera than the actual view in real life! Nate is the one who usually takes the pictures, but I think I did a pretty good job as a photographer considering the circumstances! I am very proud of how they came out! Please see the pictures below of our visit to Sedona!
After leaving Sedona, we drove 60 miles Northwest to a Walmart in Prescott where we spent the night.