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Restaurants

Hot Beans

Posted by Brigitte Noel / Reviewed on March 8, 2011 / review policy

Hot Beans TorontoHot Beans has recently opened in Kensington Market. The idea to open a vegan taco restaurant in the area is such an obviously brilliant idea, it's surprising it has taken this long to happen. Located on Baldwin Street near Spadina, this new restaurant takes over the space from the short-lived Harapeko.

Inspired by the prevalence and variety of vegan cuisine in cities like New York and Portland, co-owners Madeleine Foote, Scott McCannell and Ross Corder have created a restaurant that caters to both Toronto's vegan community and the city's foodies.

Hot Beans Toronto KensingtonThe deliciously tingling aroma of hot sauce fills the air as we line up to order, and I find my eyes watering slightly. Taking our order, Foote smiles and patiently explains the menu to our group of non-vegan diners, answering our questions about the taste of certain meat substitutes.

Hot Beans KensingtonThe menu is small, with a selection of three types of both burritos and tacos. The latter come with one side, a choice of rice and beans, chips and salsa or creamy slaw. Breakfast options are also available on weekends.

I decide to take my chances on the jackfruit "pulled pork" taco with a side of slaw ($8.50), while my dinner date orders the yuba "chicken" taco with the rice ($8.50).

We wait for our meals in the small dining area, a few steps up on a mezzanine overlooking the kitchen. Perched on a tall stool, we watch our tacos coming together like vultures waiting for their prey. Very meatless, vegan prey.

Hot Beans VeganOur food is delivered in biodegradable containers - a wonderful detail, Hot Beans does not have a garbage can, just a green bin and a recycling box.

Hot Beans Vegan TacosThe jackfruit tacos are full of juicy bits of fruit, doused in delicious BBQ sauce with a small dose of cashew sour cream and pico. The texture is not as chewy as I was expecting, but the taste is pleasant. The coleslaw is finely ground, refreshing and creamy, without the vinegary aftertaste slaw so often has. This side dish is the perfect pairing for the generous helping of housemade habanero sauce I pour on the entire meal.

Hot Beans TorontoThe yuba tacos are incredible, savoury and meaty, and we all agree the faux-chicken's consistency is better than the jackfruit's. While quite tasty, the rice and beans are slightly dried out. We got the last scoop of the batch though - from our seats, we can see the fresh portion, which looks much more appealing.

Hot Beans TorontoWe are then privy to the frying of a fresh batch of lime and coconut donuts (UPDATE September 11, 2012: Hot Beans no longer serves donuts). As we watch Foote dipping the warm pastries into the silky lime frosting, we give in to our urge to rush down and try one. Perfection - they are dense and soft, topped with a dusting of toasted coconut shavings. Accompanied by a glass of tangy homemade limeade, it's the ideal way to end our experience.

Hot Beans TorontoHot Beans TorontoHot Beans is open daily from 11:30am to 8:30pm.

Photos by Courtney Lee Yip

Discussion

56 Comments

Erica / March 9, 2011 at 09:12 am
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I recommend the hot beans (nachos) - it's a meal-sized portion of fresh chips, beans, guacamole, and pico de gallo. Also according to their twitter feed they're selling something called The Elvis now, with tempeh bacon, sweet fried plantains, peanut miso sauce. Must eat one...now...
Eric26 / March 9, 2011 at 09:57 am
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Tacos and doughnuts? Ridiculous. I'm definitely going to buy some (doughnuts).
Brandon / March 9, 2011 at 10:28 am
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Ross and his business partner have a great thing going on. I've known ross for 7 or so years and I couldn't be happier for his first business venture.
the_lies / March 9, 2011 at 10:57 am
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oh man, more vegan crap? Eat meat, meat is good! Yum yum!
Veronica / March 9, 2011 at 11:04 am
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Wheat or corn tortillas?
D-boom / March 9, 2011 at 11:24 am
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Yah Scott!!!!! Great job man! I can't wait to stop by for a burrito!

D-Boom
Rachel / March 9, 2011 at 11:29 am
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Hurray! I am glad something is adding to charm to those dreary storefronts. I am looking forward to eating everything on the menu.
lucy / March 9, 2011 at 11:44 am
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I cant wait to eat here! reasonable prices, a great place for Veganssss!! :) so excitedddddd
Olivia / March 9, 2011 at 11:52 am
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I ate here last Friday, had the chorizo burrito. Amazing!! Definitely plan on going back, fairly priced and deliciously vegan. So happy hot beans has a home in Kensington.
Michelle replying to a comment from Veronica / March 9, 2011 at 11:57 am
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The tacos are corn, burritos are wheat.

I like this place, but I feel like it could be better. I was bummed out by how carb heavy everything was, and wished there was more veggies. I don't like tomato that much, so adding some lettuce or something would have been a nice choice to balance the rice in the burrito I had.
ange replying to a comment from Michelle / March 9, 2011 at 12:59 pm
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i'm sure they would sub some lettuce in there for you.. or a type of green.
ange / March 9, 2011 at 01:02 pm
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I went to Hot Beans last week with a pal who has been raving about the place, and asked the chef what he recommends (since i'm not vegetarian) and he made me the most amazing "beef" burrito I have ever had. He added a couple small personal touches based on his palette.. I was over-joyed. OVER JOYED PEOPLE! awesome experience over all.
Ashley / March 9, 2011 at 01:55 pm
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Yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum!!!!! My bf and I loved every single amazingly yum-filled bite! Can't wait to try the doughnuts next time!!
claire / March 9, 2011 at 02:10 pm
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yessssss!
can't wait to try :D
Meera / March 9, 2011 at 02:27 pm
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This is an excellent development!
Now, I'm just waiting for someone in TO to open up an all-vegan burger joint, like Winnipeg's awesome Boon Burger.
Claudia replying to a comment from the_lies / March 9, 2011 at 03:02 pm
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More vegan crap? Sheesh man. There's non-vegan stuff everywhere!!
Henry / March 9, 2011 at 03:10 pm
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Can't wait to try this joint!

Anyone ever been to "Chicago Diner" in Chicago? A vegan diner like that in Toronto is much needed. Their brunch is legendary.
BB replying to a comment from Henry / March 9, 2011 at 04:04 pm
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I've been to "Chicago Diner" in Chicago. Cute place and DELICIOUS whether your veggie or not!
haha / March 9, 2011 at 04:40 pm
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Try Sadie's Diner. It has great prices, and is all veg.
sonofdad / March 9, 2011 at 05:26 pm
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ate a "chorizo" burrito today and a lime-coconut donut. whoa.

In addition to making all their own toppings (a rarity with the bigger burrito spots), they also make their own hot sauce, which was especially amazing.

Though the burrito was truly awesome, the donut was even better. At $2 a piece they're pricey, but I suppose that's the cost of hand-made, quality goods.

hellebelle / March 9, 2011 at 09:05 pm
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oooooh, can't wait to try it!
Andy / March 9, 2011 at 10:31 pm
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If you're choosing to be vegan, and all power to you, why on earth would you then go and eat fake meat? I never understood the attraction.

I am an omnivore who loves all sorts of food. I cure my own bacon, but I also get all excited about an awesome chickpea salad, i.e. well made vegetarian/vegan food. Fake anything just turns me right off, from margarine to fake chorizo.
Stephen van Egmond replying to a comment from Andy / March 9, 2011 at 11:04 pm
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+1 to andy's comment, but I think in this case it's more a matter of positioning the menu to appeal to people who don't realize seitan isn't the antichrist's name mis-spelled. For instance, I don't notice any of the colossal bummer that is soy cheese.

Compared to mystery-"meat" places like Cafe 668, what I see is quite straightforward, and in my view, nutritionally reasonably balanced.

I look forward to trying them out. I'm tired of getting screwed at Big Fat Burrito.
j replying to a comment from haha / March 9, 2011 at 11:30 pm
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Re: Sadies, their menu isn't vegan but they do have some options.

A proper all-vegan diner would be amazing!
Courtney / March 9, 2011 at 11:42 pm
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What a welcomed addition to Toronto's veggie scene. Fast, reasonably priced, quality food. I've been there 3 times already since it opened and I live across town! Thank you guys so much for Vegan burritos that don't feel like a rip off and the best doughnuts west of the Mighty O's (for real, their doughnuts are worth the trip alone). I could just eat a big bowl of their beans on their own, so gooood!
Jennifer replying to a comment from Andy / March 9, 2011 at 11:45 pm
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Hey Andy,

To answer your question, I gave up meat over issues of animal cruelty and climate change, not because I didn't like the taste. So fake meat is a delicious substitute.
Meera / March 9, 2011 at 11:47 pm
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@Andy -- So, naturally, your own preferences should be shared by absolutely everyone. And no vegan should enjoy the familiar tastes and textures of childhood comfort foods, because they're "fake." Even though they're made of "real" food ingredients, and virtually always healthier than the non-veg foods they replicate.

Btw, what's up with the American spelling of doughnut ('donut') in this review? This isn't BlogNY.
Al replying to a comment from Claudia / March 10, 2011 at 06:08 am
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Get used to it. You're living in the past.
Andy replying to a comment from Stephen van Egmond / March 10, 2011 at 06:58 am
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@ Meera Where did I say that I want everybody to share my preferences? Please don't put words into my mouth, that's an incredibly rude thing to do.

I work in the Market and frequently partake of the great vegetarian food that's on offer there. But when I want to eat chorizo, I go to Salsas on Augusta.

What I specifically don't get about meat substitutes is that they treat meat as something faceless and uniform, they reduce it to the lowest common denominator in a way that is not dissimilar to what happens with cheap and flavorless supermarket meat.

There are huge differences between meat that's been humanely raised - i.e. no hormones, no antibiotics, free range and local - and the stuff that most supermarkets sell for cheap. There's no such thing as a meat substitute that mimics a well cured pork belly, or even organic minced beef. The texture might be similar, but you can't fake real flavor.

Please understand that these are only my observations. Eat whatever floats your boat, I would never dare to tell you what you can or can,t do.



Al / March 10, 2011 at 07:26 am
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Sorry Claudia, my "get used to it" comment was meant to be directed at the_lies, not you.
k / March 10, 2011 at 10:30 am
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I read this review last night and literally got in the car and drove there. It was amazing. Seriously amazing.
the_lies / March 10, 2011 at 11:09 am
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Amazing? idk about that, it's mexican food, it's good and I certainly enjoy mexican food, but it's all the same. A taco is a burrito is a chimichanga is a fajita. They all use pretty much the same ingredients, they just add a thing or two here and there and put it in a different vessel. Mexican food is hardly impressive, definitely not deserving of a rating of amazing. I'll reserve the word amazing for places like Beast, Susor Lee's places, the new Chang restaurant coming here will likely be amazing. As has been said by many: if it isn't french it ain't shit.
the_lies / March 10, 2011 at 11:10 am
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Mexican food is the Bobby Flay of the culinary world.
the_lies / March 10, 2011 at 11:12 am
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Let's put some chipotle in there! Let's add soem raspberries to my fuckin bbq sauce! wow amazing mr. Flay!
mr-palmer replying to a comment from Meera / March 10, 2011 at 11:19 am
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Vegan food is healthier you say? What about the lack of natural nutrients that come from meat, that you would have to take a less effective supplement to get? Like creatine, for example. The protein dereived from beans isn't a complete amino chain, it's nto as valuable of a protein. Every vegan I've ever spoken to has said they usually feel a bit of malaise being vegan, even if they really watch their diets, have been doign ti for years. they always say I feel a bit sick, but I can't eat meat, it bothers me, you get used to the sick feeling. Well, that sick feelign is a lack of nutrients in your body, it's the result of ingestign only incomplete protein chains, not gettign amino acids and vitamins that you can only get from meat.

Also, I hardly think I'd ever get the feeling of nostalgia from eatign lasagna with TVP in it that I would if I'd had a meat lasagna, the comfort part fo the comfort food isn't really there. I think people that get that feelign are lying to themselves, as they are when they say we're not supposed to eat meat.
the lemur replying to a comment from the_lies / March 10, 2011 at 12:03 pm
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Saying 'A taco is a burrito is a chimichanga is a fajita' just shows that you don't know how much more there is to Mexican food than that. Of course it's going to seem limited if you just focus on dishes in the 'wrapped in some kind of corn/wheat thing' category.

I checked this place out and although I'm not even close to vegetarian, I thought it was good and certainly better than a lot of the mediocre conventional takes on Mexican food here (basically most of the places with 'burrito' in their name). Not amazing, but certainly a step in the right direction.

The drinks selection was disappointingly mainstream, though.
Morissey replying to a comment from mr-palmer / March 11, 2011 at 09:12 am
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Meat is murder.
mol / March 11, 2011 at 04:53 pm
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Calm down everybody.

I know just the thing to settle the internet bloodlust.... an impossibly delicious doughnut from Hot Beans.
I went there today and it blew my mind. The coconut. The lime.

I KNOW, I know. Everybody loves getting all bothered on the internet. Just go have a doughnut, you fucks.
John / March 11, 2011 at 07:24 pm
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"Vegan food is healthier you say? What about the lack of natural nutrients that come from meat"

What natural nutrients?

"You would have to take a less effective supplement to get?"

Supplements are not less effective. Supplements were invented to buttress omnivorous diets! Supplements were not invented for vegans.

"Like creatine, for example."

Creatine is not an essential nutrient, see here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creatine

"The protein dereived from beans isn't a complete amino chain"

This is true, but it doesn't matter. Amino acids can be consumed in varying quantities and combinations over a number of meals in order to achieve recommended daily amino acid intake. You seem to be referring to the nutritional philosophy known as "protein combining", which was debunked several decades ago. See here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protein_combining

"it's [not] as valuable of a protein."

This is a complete fabrication. Sorry, but it's completely false.

"Every vegan I've ever spoken to has said they usually feel a bit of malaise being vegan"

You do not know many vegans. I have been vegan for five years, met countless vegans, and I have never heard a health complaint. My wife is vegan. My parents are vegan. We are all in perfect health. Then again, we're also smart enough to search for answers to nutritional questions rather than simply give up at the first sign of confusion.

I recommend that you read the joint American Dietetic Association/Dietitians of Canada position paper on the subject of vegetarian and vegan diets. See here (PDF link is at the bottom):

http://www.eatright.org/about/content.aspx?id=8357

Also, veganhealth.org is a fantastic resource for dispelling myths about vegan diets.

"the comfort part fo the comfort food isn't really there."

Comfort food is simply food that you have eaten for a while and grown accustomed to. Good memories are associated with the food, and so you turn to it in times when you require comfort. Ceasing to consume animal products does not eliminate comfort food in any sense, since you will develop new comfort foods in a very short timeframe.

"I think people that get that feelign are lying to themselves, as they are when they say we're not supposed to eat meat."

It is not necessary to consume animal products. This is abundantly clear from the available scientific evidence. If animal products are necessary for optimal health, then why are nutritional supplements a booming industry? This industry does not sustain itself on vegans. The answer is that evolution selects for reproductive fitness and not maximum lifespan. People consume nutritional supplements because scientific evidence suggests that supplementation may be able to improve their overall health *above and beyond* what a standard omnivorous diet can provide.

I am glad that you care about this issue enough to lend your voice to the discussion, but it is clear that your entire knowledge of vegan nutrition and culture is built on shaky foundations. Somewhere along the line I suspect you met a vegan who was sketchy and gave you a bad impression of vegans in general. Please, if you care about justice in a truly nondiscriminatory sense, read some serious vegan resources and reform your notion of veganism. It's a great idea whose time is long overdue.

I'm going to go and try Hot Beans now.
EJR / March 12, 2011 at 02:04 pm
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Went today. Tacos were delicious, will certainly be back to try them all. But it was the donuts that were mindblowing. Some sort of espresso glazed version today... will be back to take some of these home for a treat!
PurpleNights / March 12, 2011 at 09:45 pm
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Me and my partner went to Hot Beans today and the food was simply great! I am a vegan but my partner isn't and we were both extremely pleased with our meals. I definitely recommend this place to everyone, regardless if they are vegan or omnivores.
Jill / March 13, 2011 at 06:34 am
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My son and I went yesterday and sadly was too full to eat the burrito until we got home - he had chicken tacos and I ate the nachos -- both FANTASTIC!! The "beef" burrito was beyond DELICIOUS and I wanted another (shared it with my other son) -- live over an hour away so have to wait until next week, I think!
steven / March 13, 2011 at 04:19 pm
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Confirmed: Hot Beans is better than sex.
kate / March 14, 2011 at 02:25 pm
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This place is incredible!!! So sooo delicious! The doughnuts are an experience, after taking a bite of the fresh warm thing, i had to put it down and take it all in - amazing!
Andy / March 16, 2011 at 12:58 pm
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I went today for lunch with my vegetarian partner and I ended up being disappointed.

My chorizo burrito was dry and without the freshness that can make a good burrito great. You could taste the raw spices in the beans and the coleslaw was workable but unimpressive. Neither of us finished lunch.

If you want a great vegan burrito I'd suggest Salsas on Augusta. They've got cactus burritos that will blow your mind, with fresh avocado and excellent home made salsas.
L replying to a comment from Andy / March 26, 2011 at 07:06 pm
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I have to agree with Andy. The food is definitely dry and I too did not finish my meal.

Very disappointed with Hot Beans. I won't return.
Rob / March 27, 2011 at 12:05 am
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Really? People think this place is amazing? The food is dry and cool, and they seem to run out of stuff all the time. I've been there 3 times and I found the food underwhelming. Except for the desserts. I hope they succeed but I'm not going to eat food that isn't prepared as well as I can make it at home. I mean, Chipotle is better. Too bad.
jameson / March 27, 2011 at 05:43 pm
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really good!
Chris Orbz / March 28, 2011 at 08:31 pm
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Tried the yuba tacos + beans&rice today. Everything was good, with the hot sauces being above par for burrito places in town, but I did have to go to another burrito place pretty much right afterwards to actually fill myself up..

Also, did the beef industry put an ad out on craigslist for ppl to hang around posting stupid comments on veg*n posts?
Greg / June 6, 2011 at 12:03 am
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My brain is hurting from some of the idiotic comments here. Ouch. The food here is great thioguh. lol andy
Hotbeansfuturecustomer replying to a comment from haha / January 13, 2012 at 03:58 am
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Useless comment buddy!
handfed / January 13, 2012 at 11:43 am
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Hey did you know that when you boil beans it gets all foamy? Holy crap, those things are outta control!
Josh / March 16, 2012 at 10:36 pm
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As there is nothing like this in Halifax, I fly over to Toronto to have the seitan burrito whenever I can. I had two and the limeade. I didn't realize how big they were until they were brought over to me. I could have eat the second one, but I ate it the next morning and was still fucking awesome (even though I left it out all night).
K.Ate / January 22, 2013 at 12:16 am
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So I finally got around to trying this much exalted vegan eatery. I have been vegan for around 9 months now and have tried my fair share of what Toronto has to offer in regards to vegan fare.

Pro:
-Another addition to cruelty free food options.
-Location (shopping in the area of Kensington Market)
-Price and Portions. (cheap eats on a large scale)
-Speed (In and Out, great for on the go meals)

Cons:
-Lacklustre Service
(One man behind the counter who seemed to wish I had not bothered to walk in. When he finally got around to acknowledging my existence I simply stated, with a smile, that I had never been here before and if he could recommend something that seems to be a hit...Stare down ensued...I did not know what to make of it. My face of bewilderment must have woken him up for him to reply with "Oh the TVP is usually good for first timers"...Okay, I will go with that then thank you. DO NOT GO THERE FOR THE USUAL SMALL BUSINESSMAN CHATTER)

-Texture
Okay so, since I stuck with the TVP this is all I can really comment on in regard to texture. It was horrible, absolutely nauseating and I should have known just by looking at it. It is cut into these "meaty" chunks. And while I am not one to have any sense of a weak stomach I think it is quite the testament to this "burrito's" texture that it nearly made me throw up.

-Flavour...or lack of.
Bland, just bland. Sauces were dripping everywhere but magically seemed to have lost any flavour once held. I do not know how it is possible to go into business without having a good palette for flavour but somehow this has happened.
And really its a burrito, literally made for layering and having fun with flavour combinations.

...I definitely see potential in this business, they have somehow made a decent following with less than optimal offerings.
All in All I will not be returning unless I follow up with my intrigue with those Jackfruit Tacos. Never had it, sort of want to try it.

zzrkqrrtdpeb / April 2, 2013 at 01:11 pm
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kziainpwimva / April 3, 2013 at 11:46 pm
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