El Fuego (Philadelphia, PA)
Score: 6 / 10 Reviewed by: Chris
Just a couple blocks from Independence Hall in Philadelphia is El Fuego. This is a wanna-be Chipotle. The similarities are uncanny. That means whatever your feelings about the chain's food are very likely to apply here too. But bring a fat wallet.
Like most taquerias, you walk up and order. All the ingredients are before you, cafeteria style- no cooking to order here. Burritos come in one of five main ingredients: chicken, steak, slow cooked spicy beef, chorizo, and vegetarian. I went with the spicy beef- it was shredded and looked nicely cooked. The menu had an entry for extra meat, so i was a bit concerned how much i would get. As it turns out, the gal plopped a monstrous helping of meat onto the tortilla, far more than i've ever gotten from Chipotle. I had them add the medium salsa (tomatillo based), and everything except lettuce. I had them add guac too, and she plopped on a worthy amount of it.
Finally, i sat down. It was short and fat, just like a Chipotle burrito, but was completely packed with ingredients. Construction was decent, but not fantastic. It was so stuffed there wasn't much extra tortilla to fold it properly. If i had a blindfold taste test between El Fuego's spicy beef and Chipotle's barbacoa, i don't think i could tell the difference. The meat was moist, tender, spicy, and plentiful. The rice used is white as snow, and even has that hint of lime that Chipotle uses. The guac was quite tasty, though wasn't integrated in very well.
The chips here are superior to Chipotle, mostly because they're not oversalted. You get a large basket of them, but it does cost a chunk of change more.
El Fuego has one key problem: the prices are insane. Burritos start at $6.75- not unreasonable. But adding guac costs $2.25. Adding chips and salsa cost $3.50. Finally some Guava Jarritos to wash it down- another $2.50. With tax that adds up to $15.90, though somehow they charged me 15 cents more. 16 bucks. Ridiculous.
El Fuego says they serve California Style Burritos- someone should tell them California does not equate to Chipotle. Burritophile's scale puts Chipotle at a 6, and therefore El Fuego earns the same score. I think El Fuego makes a slightly better burrito, but it's countered by the laughable prices.
posted 4/19/2008 10:42 AM, updated on 7/27/2008 7:16 PM