Friday, April 13, 2012

iOlecito! Restores The Faith by Kristofer Jenson

When it comes to lunch spots in Inman Square, less is more. It's true of Punjabi Dhaba, one of my favorite Indian restaurants in the Boston area, and it's true of Olecito, tucked away on a residential street just outside of Inman Square. Both places may appear to be mere holes in the wall to the average passerby, which is part of what makes them so special. They let the food do the talking.

Olecito, true to its name, is a smaller version of sit-down restaurant Ole, located directly across from each other on Springfield Street. The owners deserve credit for acknowledging that many aspects of Mexican cuisine are quickly becoming staples of American fast food culture, for better (breakfast burritos) and worse (Taco Bell's Doritos Locos Tacos, which is less of a food and more of a war crime). People get a burrito on the run as often as they sit down for a tamale. Need something quick before hitting the clubs with a hot date? Grab something at Olecito first. Getting serious and meeting their parents? Take them to Ole. Everybody wins. 
After last week's soul-crushing trip to Qdoba, the first thing I noticed about Olecito was the level of enthusiasm by the staff. Our cook, Carlos, was attentive, funny, knowledgeable and made killer food. He recommended the dish you see here - a steak burrito with the works, a cubano torta (sandwich), a baja taco with shrimp, and a steak quesadilla with two sodas.

I've always loved Cuban sandwiches, so I was slightly skeptical of this non-pressed approximation. But holy CRAP was it good, so much so that I saved half of it for dessert. The burrito didn't look all that large compared to what I normally prefer, but it was packed so thickly and evenly that I didn't even notice the difference. The quesadilla - which I only order as a side-dish - was fuckin' tasty, packed with all sorts of goodies to the point that I'd get one as my main meal. And the taco restored my faith in taco futures (A DORITO SHELL? SERIOUSLY?!).

I should also note that the burrito system is genius. It automatically comes with everything, so you tell them what you DON'T want instead of getting gouged for ingredients that should already be included. No extra dollar if you want quac and sour cream. More places need to adopt this. 

If I lived in the Cambridge/Somerville area, Olecito would be my regular joint. Carlos would know my order on sight. I'd be Foursquare mayor in no time. Check it out. - Submitted by Kristofer Jenson

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Olecito - 12 Springfield Street in Inman Square, Cambridge Massachusetts, 617.876.1374

Read More of Kristofer's Adventures