Eater’s Digest


Posted: Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The name says it all. Grand Burrito Restaurant in Soldotna offers a grand dining experience in a comfortable café setting. The second I walked in the door, the sights, sounds and smells brought me back to Costa Rica. Traveling down the coast of this friendly Central American country, real restaurants were few and far between, but tiny mom and pop cafés called “sodas” could be found in every town. These were often nothing more than front porches with a table or two that the homeowner had put out to offer a home-cooked meal to weary travelers. Meals were made while you waited, nothing was pre-made. The portions were generous and the food was delicious. The same is true for Grand Burrito.

My wife and I had wanted to try the Grand Burrito for quite a while now, but since it’s located near the “Y” in Soldotna and we hardly ever make it to that part of town, dining there has been a long time in coming. After the first bite I knew we had waited far too long. My wife wanted a meal that would be little lighter than a dinner, yet still filling. She decided on an appetizer, but not just a quesadilla, and not just a supreme quesadilla. She went for the super fajita quesadilla. That’s my baby.

This toasted, folded-flour tortilla was stuffed no less than three inches thick with savory chicken, melted cheese, sautéed onions, green peppers, tomatoes and black olives. A healthy garnish of sour cream and guacamole made the meal complete. Now let me make it clear that because my wife and I are extremely active people, we also have extremely healthy appetites. So healthy in fact that the way most dining experiences play out for us is: we order, the wait staff ask “how many others are joining your party,” we reply “none,” they immediately begin trying to talk us out of our order as they say “you two cannot eat all that,” and in the end we always do eat it all to their dismay. But, that being said, my hat is off to anyone who can eat one of these super fajita quesadillas and still even think about ordering an entrée.

While my wife concentrated on her breathing like an expectant mother in a Lamaze class to make it through her meal, I was also relishing in my choice for the evening’s entrée. I had gone with fajitas. I believe any excuse to eat fajitas is a good excuse, and although I rarely need one, I thought ordering fajitas would be a good way to test the waters at Grand Burrito. After all, fajitas may seem like a quick and easy dish to fire out of the kitchen, but there are plenty of ways restaurants can screw them up, such as over marinating the meat, over cooking the vegetables, over seasoning the final product, etc. However, none of these incidents occurred with the fajitas I ordered.

Although there were seven different fajita options, I went with the Fajitas El Mexicano. I could hear and smell my meal coming to the table the second it left the kitchen which is one of the reasons I like to order fajitas. There is something deeply satisfying about that skillet of meat and vegetables sizzling away at the end of the table to the envy of the other diners in the restaurant. It’s as though upon seeing the fajitas other diners instantly know that whatever they ordered, if it wasn’t fajitas, it was the wrong choice. This dish I ordered came with a combination of beef, chicken and shrimp as the meat, and of course, sautéed onions, green peppers and tomatoes as well, which was a new one to me. All of the aforementioned items were cooked to perfection, and I do mean perfection. Nothing was too firm from undercooking, or mushy and bland from overcooking a little too long in the sauté pan. The taste was also phenomenal. Although sautéed, I would swear the meat - at least, if not the whole meal - had been grilled. It was tender and bursting with fresh flavor. Three lightly toasted flour tortillas came with the meal, and the waitress brought three more without blinking an eye after I had devoured the first ones before even making it halfway through my savory skillet. The meal also came with a side of rice and refried beans, and a heavy handed dollop of sour cream and guacamole.

This meal was extremely filling and anyone with a normal appetite would probably end up with leftovers for lunch the next day, but I was able to complete the meal without asking for a to-go box. Although toward the end I was starting to have my doubts. For both generous portions and delicious food, you don’t need to go all the way to Costa Rica. You will find it at Grand Burrito.

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