Thursday, November 27, 2014Cloudy 0°C
Restaurants

Chino Locos

Posted by Jason Finestone / Reviewed on April 13, 2012 / review policy

Chino LocosChino Locos is not your average burrito bar. In appearance, it may fit the profile; a minuscule space, slammed with starving customers waiting to wolf down tightly packed tortillas crammed with protein and produce. The unconventional aspect of this local gem is the distinctly curated list of fillers that may find their way into your wrap, like edamame beans, shitake mushrooms and the texturally different though superbly tasty option of chow mein noodles instead of rustic rice.

Chino LocosI got a chance to chat with co-founder and the man-of-the-house around their Greenwood location, Minh La, about how he and his partner and childhood friend, Victor Su (find him at the Church St. shop) came up with such wildly unique and delicious preparations. "It was a pure trial and error," La remarks. "We both come from Chinese and Vietnamese backgrounds so we thought about integrating our favorite Asian foods into the fold along with traditional Tex Mex ingredients."

Chino LocosAnticipation grows as one stands among other hungry patrons, saturated with mouth-watering aromas of roasted pork, smoky chilies and the unique assembly of freshly prepared ingredients. Pre-ordering is preferred by the seasoned vet as the cap clad crew at Chino Locos turn out hundreds of burritos a day to locals and loyalists alike. If you're phoning in your order, make sure to ask about their weekly Loco special which have included things such as General Tao chicken, jerk pork, Korean beef or this week's special Adobo chicken ($8.99).

All their standard burritos are priced at $6.99 plus tax except for the Juicy Vegan ($7.99) and the weekly special. For the carb-contrary, you can also get your burrito in a Bento Box; hold the tortilla shell.

Chino LocosUpon recommendation I rolled with the one they call 'Da Finest' Fish Burrito (fitting given my namesake) consisting of sautéed white basa fish, guacamole, tomatoes, edamame beans, red onions, black beans, green peppers, cilantro, cheese, sour cream and chipotle sauce, if you opt for the fully loaded option plus choice of rice or chow mein noodles and spice level. The fresh, tender pieces of basa are marinated and sautéed on the spot and the flavour truly shines.

The flakiness of the fish and soft texture along with the noodles were a great contrast to the crunch of the green pepper and onion. I'm a total spice addict and "super spicy" request was met with heeded warnings from the staff. House made and damn hot, these boys know how to make a proper chili sauce! A mélange of 7 different chili peppers and spices such as habanero, Thai and Vietnamese chilis and long banana peppers, to name a few.

Chino LocosFresh and made-to-order seemed to be the prevailing theme around the joint, and I heard it over and over again. "You may end up waiting a few extra minutes to get your fix," Na said, "but that's just how we roll!" Pun intended?

I don't often find myself if that neighbourhood, but I'm a man who likes his burritos and can confidently say that the next time I'm rolling by, I wouldn't be surprised if my palate pulled me towards Chino Locos like it did today.

Chino Locos

Discussion

47 Comments

mumu / January 8, 2009 at 01:03 pm
user-pic
Amazingly addictive burritos! What a weird combo that shouldn't work but totally does. I go in at least twice a week and joked that they're the neighbourhood crack dealer. Everything is cooked to order so it's sizzling hot right off the pan. Try the Chicken Tinga. Ask for spicy and it's awesome!
Weston / January 8, 2009 at 02:50 pm
user-pic
The two guys running this place are full of energy and love making new burrito concoctions. I generally try any of their slowed cooked pork specials when available. Always fresh and delightful (the guacamole is amazing)! Great location with lots of street parking in the area.
Spanky Montoya / January 13, 2009 at 11:02 pm
user-pic
This place is the bomb. Can't say enough good things about the food. You gotta try it. You're gonna love it. The location isn't great for me but its worth the trip.
Veg Out / January 14, 2009 at 08:43 am
user-pic
A shout out to their veggie burrito. Terrific! And so big I managed to make two meals of it. In these "tough economic times" Chino Locos makes a lot of sense!
theminister / February 8, 2009 at 01:43 pm
user-pic
Great tasting burrito........but it wasn't wrapped tight enough and just fell apart and alot of it now rests on the table and floor. This on top of the fact that I stood there for HALF AN HOUR waiting for my order. There were only five other customers in the place. Having been in the restaurant biz for 35 years, I know it doesn't take that long to prepare take out. I'm out eight dollars, and I didn't get to eat my whole meal because it's all over the place. For that aggravation, I can continue to get my burritos at Burrito Boyz. I doubt I'll go back to Chino Locos.
Greg / February 13, 2009 at 10:02 am
user-pic
My vote for best burrito in town, bar none. Although I have to agree with the previous post in terms of length of time to wait for the burrito. They do like to chat and discuss life, which is great and we enjoyed that, but I think cutting down the time to delivery is important. At least two customers left without even ordering when we were there.
bill / February 15, 2009 at 11:05 am
user-pic
Nice guys and I wish them all the best. BUT 35 minute wait for a very dull burrito?
If was was awesome I could see going back but for cold tough pork and bland noodles rolled in a wrap? Better get the kinks out of the operation guys. Don't believe the hype on this page.
Abby / May 26, 2009 at 04:10 am
user-pic
Its a small place but has a big heart in terms of service. They are great and hillariously entertaining as they try to describe in relative terms how hot we wanted our burritos to turn out. They knew that we are newbies with their menu, which they took the time to describe further nuances of their burrito than whats already written. Our first bite already describes AMAZING as fusion of flavor with our burittos. HINT: Always ask for the Special since they are creatively finding ways to tease the taste buds.
Jo / June 10, 2009 at 10:23 pm
user-pic
Delicious. Different. Definitely going back.
Friendly service. Interesting take on the fish burrito. Subtle flavours. Very fresh!
Justin / July 4, 2009 at 04:48 pm
user-pic
My first experience was OK. They did screw up my order by including a couple of things I'd asked them to hold, but I was eating in, so they quickly made me a new burrito while I waited.

The second time was today and it was truly terrible. I ordered take out and went to a neighbouring store while they made my order. I came back and the young girl working handed me a bag and said my here you go and said my name. I walked home and discovered both burritos were totally wrong... again. I called and they said that I had taken someone elses order. I told them I would quickly drive back and make the switch. When I got back they not so subtly scolded me for taking the wrong bag. I explained that the girl handed it to me and said my name but they clearly thought I was lying and again repeated that this was basically my fault. Now I was pissed and told them that before I leave again I want to check to see if my order is correct as they had also made a mistake last time I was there. The guy behind the counter then got angry with me and said I should have told him that they had made a mistake last time so he could ensure they didn't make one again with the same customer. You would assume they always try to get orders correct, but I guess not. So it turns out one of my burritos was in fact wrong and I told them that. The guy who takes the orders showed me the order -- and he had actually written it down wrong (which is what I think happened last time too) and used this as evidence that I had "ordered wrong". So no apology for giving me the wrong order, no apology for making my order incorrectly and instead scolding me for causing all of these problems myself somehow.

Not a good sign for their future success. It's too bad because it was a good idea and they seemed like nice guys at first, but they just don't know what they're doing. I'll never be back and I'll be warning my friends in the neighbourhood to steer clear as well.

If they would have just said sorry and maybe offered me a discount for next time or even just been nice and friendly, I would have felt totally differently -- but instead they decided to blame their customer for their own stupid mistakes.
andrew / July 15, 2009 at 12:48 am
user-pic
i frequent this site regularly and what i usually tend to find are negative comments regarding quality of food, service, etc etc. i would assume this is because people generally feel the urge to express their thoughts after an unpleasant experience; that putting these thoughts down would vindicate themselves from the shoddy service they felt they were subjected to. patrons who've enjoyed themselves tend to do just that and go on with their lives. but after reading that last complaint i felt it was my duty as a satisfied customer to drop a positive note.
i have ordered from Chino Locos 5 or 6 times and have had a pleasant experience on all of these occasions. im not saying problems may not arise in the future, we all have bad days, right? i tend to go there at around 5-6 so ive yet to experience the lunch rush. with waiting times around 10 minutes i could see how some could find this a nuisance, but i have no problem waiting for something is made fresh to order. the food is abundant, flavourful, reasonably priced and the staff are friendly and sometimes chatty while you wait. my favourite has to be the pollo loco with rice but be sure to check out the weekly specials.
allen / August 17, 2009 at 01:28 pm
user-pic
I went there twice, both times waited over half an hour for takeout, and like the person (theminister) farther above who had the same complaint, my burrito fell apart the second time. I too have been in the restaurant business for many years, and these guys are dropping the ball. They're spending too much time chit chatting and yucking it up..........I notice how they haven't come on here to respond or apologize for the negative reviews they've recieved on here. I can go somewhere else to spend my hard earned money on a good burrito.
Josh replying to a comment from Justin / November 21, 2009 at 11:41 pm
user-pic
I fully agree with you it's clearly the one owner there whose getting things wrong I have heard numerous negative remarks, regarding the service level of this establishment. As I was a long time resident of the neighborhood who frequented the place, and foolishly referred to my friends as a good spot to eat. The whole approach I'm getting to is try a place more than once to get a decent opinion about it. Or you might be out of a friend because of it.
Josh replying to a comment from andrew / November 21, 2009 at 11:48 pm
user-pic
Right and I am certain this is one of the owners here trying to apply a positive comment regarding their "shotty" service.
Robert / February 10, 2010 at 09:02 pm
user-pic
Alright I have tried this place for the first time roughly 30 minutes ago. 10 Minute wait, friendly small place, they have there own unique atmosphere and I admired that. They do not want to please everyone and nor should they, they cater to a niche that share their enthusiasm for trying new things. Not everyone is gonna like the food they offer, same can be said for any other restaurant. In my opinion I enjoyed the "Sweeeet" with chow mein it was huge for the price and very tasty.

As a relatively young business progression takes time, and the fact that they have survived this long and managed to open a second location proves they have done some things right and many people love what they have to offer.

So readers, these negative comments are a result of impulse and overly high expectations because they live in a spoiled country (we need to stop expecting to be waited on hand and foot) and need look at things from a less self geared bias. People who run businesses are humans too and have their shortcomings. Chino Locos has proven they have created a business that has attracted many regulars and I hope they keep it up. It is a shame that customers with positive experiences do not express themselves as much as negative.
East Ender / January 27, 2011 at 12:01 pm
user-pic
Im not going to go into the explanation as most of my points have been discussed above but this place sucks. I dont ever write on this page but made an acception because of how crappy my 2 trips to this place where. Service, taste, and quality are all sub standard. Sad that it mad this list.
chris / January 27, 2011 at 01:42 pm
user-pic
congrats on taking the #1 spot on the "best burrito" list...i've lived in the 'hood for about 7 months and frequent this place quite often. have never had a bad experience and every time i'm in there, the staff and owner are always up beat and have a great attitude.

the food is fresh and packed with flavour...tough to pick a favourite between the pork and the fish...but the noodles are always a must!

keep it up guys...
Syncros / January 28, 2011 at 11:51 am
user-pic
I live in the hood and drop by for take out every month or so. Maybe I dont order a complex enough burrito but its always been right for me. The only thing I would say is dont ask for it spicy unless you really, really like hotsauce. Medium is just right for me.

btw, always get the chow mein noodles. So delish!
saeed / February 2, 2011 at 04:12 pm
user-pic
This is the best burrito joint in town, everything is made fresh and nothing comes out of a can. General Tao and Fish rock just had it for lunch. Btw, they can get really busy so call ahead and your order will be ready when u get there.
jen / May 28, 2011 at 06:00 am
user-pic
I love their burritos and fortunately for me my orders were always correct so no complains here, except the waiting time, but then again i can't complain because like chris said everything is made fresh.
MJ / July 5, 2011 at 07:16 pm
user-pic
Fresh quality ingredients made in-house to order every time. Love the specials!!! I go at least once a week, and suspect you will too after trying this place. It rocks!!!
Meaghan / October 2, 2011 at 09:55 am
user-pic
I had a terrible experience here. Went in and asked a few questions since I had never been here before. I asked them if they did a "burrito bowl" type thing like The Mexican Chipotle Grill - which clearly was the wrong thing to say! They obviously do not like being compared with Chipotle... They seemed annoyed that I asked a few questions, I overheard them call me "picky" as I waited for my food, and after ordering the bean burrito box (or whatever they call it) and walked the two blocks to my place to eat it found that my food was stone cold and that the "bean" part of my bean burrito was literally cold and hard beans that tasted as though they had just been poured out of a can in to my meal (I honestly think they were). They were not hot, or cooked in a sauce or anything. The box literally had a few of their listed ingredients (that normally come in the burritos) with a bunch of cold, hard black beans thrown on top. If this is actually how it is supposed to be/taste I would be very surprised. Needless to say I was very disappointed, and hungry. I even went so far as to contemplate that they did this to me on purpose since I was too "picky" but who knows. I will never go there again based on principal.
Bill / October 9, 2011 at 01:01 pm
user-pic
Forty minutes for one take out burrito? It wasn't that good for that kind of wait. These guys need to wake up and take a look at their service.
CJ / October 28, 2011 at 12:11 am
user-pic
Good energy in this place and really love the food.

I feel for people that have problems with how long things take, but it is small and it seems like they can only make a certain number of burritos at a time.

The option would be to expand.... but to where?

I will keep going back and I expect continue to be happy with the food and the experience.
Giovana Pinheiro Chichito / February 10, 2012 at 10:04 pm
user-pic
omg really have to try this place! Today I ate a burrito at Z-teca.. I was ok, nothing close to being amazing, and wondered where else I could go for some really tasty burrito. Now I know!
Steeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeew / April 13, 2012 at 03:57 pm
user-pic
Is there seating here?
Dennis / April 13, 2012 at 04:32 pm
user-pic
Decent burritos (at least in their Church street location), but I prefer Burrito Banditos :). Their pulled pork is just off the charts.
jibbly / April 13, 2012 at 08:31 pm
user-pic
Stew, there's like 5 spots max. It's primarily for takeout. Love it though. My orders have always been hot, tight, and dressed up the way I want them. Been in 7 or 8 times.
Sandman / April 13, 2012 at 09:21 pm
user-pic
Never been disappointed, always my go-to when I'm in the area!
The originators in TO using Lo Mein.
Shana / April 13, 2012 at 10:19 pm
user-pic
I've been several times, always had the correct order, always had an amazing, fresh burrito.
I've found the customer service pretty good - last time I was interested in their special, so they gave me a sample of the jerk chicken they'd been experimenting with, after I'd already ordered my usual choice.
I've never been in peak times though, I guess it would get a bit stressful for the cooks as there's not a lot of space and they're limited in how many they can make at once. That said, the burritos I've had there would totally redeem a half hour wait or some rude service.
lenny / April 14, 2012 at 10:01 am
user-pic
I got sick from eating in Chino Locos, ingredients aren't fresh, neither is the preparation hygienic.
Lisa / April 14, 2012 at 02:06 pm
user-pic
I go to Chino's about once a week, as I live and work in the hood. Always super friendly, and the burritos are consistent and delicious.

I'm not big on eating out for lunch - but the pulled pork calls to me often. It's that good.
Diana / April 15, 2012 at 01:53 pm
user-pic
This is just a fantastic place... If you love burritos, then you have to check this out. I've been many times to both locations, and I'm always happy. My boyfriend and I always get the special and then the pork. It's always been quick service and exactly what we ordered. The people working we're extremely friendly, making what could have been an awkward 10 minutes wait very pleasurable. The burritos are huge.. I personally have never finished one, but damn they are amazing.
Only thing I would change is more seating area at the greenwood location.
But honestly, TRY this place, Its AMAZING!
Angelo replying to a comment from lenny / April 16, 2012 at 09:46 pm
user-pic
You're certain about this?
KP / April 17, 2012 at 01:42 pm
user-pic
BIG SHOUT OUT TO VICTOR!
Kat / April 20, 2012 at 03:54 pm
user-pic
Love! They have 2 good vegetarian options & we visit regularly.
Eva / May 1, 2012 at 04:36 pm
user-pic
I just had a Pollo Loco burrito here, and I would say it was so big and filling. I ordered medium spicy but it was spicier than I thought, so maybe next time I'll order mild. It was actually good, although I had to eat in the nearby park because there really was no seats inside Chinos.
Marf / June 4, 2012 at 01:58 pm
user-pic
I go to the Church St. location and find the burritos and tacos are among the best I've had. The ingredients are always fresh, the spice level perfect, and the service friendly and fast. I really like what they fill their burritos with - inventive and tasty. The food has been really consistent over the past two years, I've found. The place is a little hidden though - on the second floor above an Asian restaurant - but I feel it is well worth visiting.
Al / August 29, 2012 at 03:58 pm
user-pic
Seems like a legit idea on paper but execution is awful. The combination of soft, goopey noodles and squishy sauce and meat are disgusting and not appetizing. The texture is what ruins and otherwise solid idea. I'm not sure why people love this place so much. I do not recommend it.
Greenhood / August 29, 2012 at 04:31 pm
user-pic
Decent food, but the staff is aweful.
Coachk / September 2, 2012 at 05:27 pm
user-pic
I went to the one on Queen st east.the place is dark, dingy, cramped and has very poor lighting. the store was empty when we got there and nobody served me or my family. when we finally got served the guy showed the menu and said "pick a picture" Since we had a small child I asked if they could make a quesadilla, the guy said what's that and we could only order from the menu when I asked for just cheese and a tortilla he said no problem and it was going to be 10.00. Since he didn't know how to order or punch something like that in. We waked out. Anyone with a sensible mind and a palette should avoid this place!
Rick / September 14, 2012 at 09:55 pm
user-pic
They need to open a branch closer to the downtown core. Amazing burritos.
darryl / October 5, 2012 at 09:11 am
user-pic
Great food, great people and GREAT atmosphere. I HIGHLY recommend this place to EVERYONE! I go once a week and have NEVER been disappointed. If you are looking for a bland meal with no imagination then STAY AWAY! Go to Burrito Boyz or McDonalds or KFC. This is real food.
SL replying to a comment from Coachk / March 12, 2013 at 10:01 am
user-pic
Why would you think you could just walk into a restaurant and ask them to make something that they don't have on their menu and wouldn't normally make? Just because they have tortillas and cheese hanging around?!? I don't know any restaurant that would just whip up a custom order like that. Seems like a ridiculous complaint. Maybe you should have looked at the menu ahead of time.
La / May 3, 2013 at 01:11 am
user-pic
Meh, was not good. Wont go again
Ken / October 25, 2013 at 06:16 pm
user-pic
The food is excellent but don't 'drop by' expecting to be served right away and DO expect to wait a long time once you have ordered. Why? Because the staff are crazy busy filling orders for the repeat customers (like me) who finally realized you HAVE to call your order in ahead of time. Every time.
jaklama / June 25, 2014 at 12:28 pm
user-pic
i went to the location @ church street.

got my food fast and the burritos were AMAZING; the BEST bang for your buck. The portions were big & the flavors amazing; chowmein noodles in a burrito? thats the BOMB!

would recommend coming here again.
one of the best burritos i ever had.

Add a Comment

Search

Find a restaurant

Or use the options below to assist you in locating a restaurant in Toronto.

Search Results

Please select criteria from the dropdown menus above to start your search.

Reviews

Recent Reviews

Refine the list using the categories below:


Loading...
Other Cities: Montreal