September 7, 2011

Mexeo Excels At No-Frills Meals

Print More

Walking into the recently-opened Collegetown burrito joint, I was a Mexeo virgin to the core. I had never tried their food at the previous Dryden location, either in its early Vietnamese incarnation Xeo or the Mexeo reinvention.

Vaguely reliable reviews from friends contained buzzwords like “local” and “weird hours,” leading me to believe that Mexeo’s might cater to a vaguely indie crowd, where good food might be overshadowed by that kid sitting next to you who went on a shower-strike to boycott some issue-of-the-week.

Mexeo is none of these things; in fact, it is the antithesis.

Walking in, your attention is drawn to the handwritten chalk menu and a stack of order slips. Between these two, you can piece together a menu. For a meal, your options are threefold: burrito, bro bowl — a tortilla-less burrito — or Frito pie. I ordered one of each, and a side of chips and salsa.

Starting with my burrito and burrito bowl, I had a choice of four meats or two “vegetarian meats.” An ever-faithful carnivore, I went Carne Guisada in the burrito and Pollo Asado in the bro bowl.

I’m sure the tofu is great, but I was craving some cow and Mexeo delivered. The Carne Guisada was spicy and just flavorful enough to carry the burrito’s rather bland beans, but not too punchy to override the delicious, peppery mixed greens.

The bready tortilla wrapping was less than thrilling, however, and I  ended up just unwrapping the tortilla and munching on the insides.

The bro bowl, on the other hand, was fantastic. Again, meat was the star. The Pollo Asado was slightly smoky and fork-tender juicy, with salty, flavorful blue corn tortilla chips on the side.

The Frito Pie was more of an enigma, so I winged it and ordered the chili option, then watched in horror as the burrito master who had so deftly rolled up my “authentic” Mexican food now busted open a bag of Frito-Lay chips.

My disgust soon became delight. If ever there were a drunk food of the gods, this is it. Even sober, I enjoyed the dish so much I picked out every morsel of spicy, intensely flavored, meaty chili.

One of the beautiful things about Mexeo’s new location is that the tiny space reveals a wide-open kitchen where, if you’re so inclined, you can literally watch your meal being piled, rolled, and otherwise assembled. They’ll tell you exactly where each leaf of lettuce in your bro bowl came from, and you’ll be able to see exactly who opened the bag of Fritos for your Frito pie.

To me, Mexeo’s is the no-frills type of food you’d make at home if you had time to run a farm, pick your veggies, slaughter your cows and cook it all yourself. Yes, it’s local, but no, it’s not prissy.

Original Author: Cristina Stiller