Sunday, October 18, 2009

mmm ... Carnitas

I love a new obsession. It’s so fun to get excited about something as seemingly insignificant as a taco but hey, that’s “meaning of life” material for someone like me.

When Freebirds first came into the Houston market, I think I ate there just once soon after they opened. All I can remember is that I didn’t do the “huge burrito” thing and the tacos came in an order of three and maybe even only as a meal in addition to that (like w/ beans and rice) and this was just too much food for me. Maybe I didn’t work hard enough to understand or maybe things have changed but the bottom line is that I’ve been missing out on some truly fresh-tasting and delicious food.

I’m grateful for any quick, reasonably-priced delicious option – especially for lunch, since I work from home in the Heights. I used to frequent Mission Burrito on Durham for their tacos but frankly, things have deteriorated in recent years. Consistency has become an issue and I just can’t get as excited about going as I used to. Enter Freebirds as a new option. I had to go to Target anyway so I figured what the heck.

Can you say carnitas?! Have mercy. There is something potentially fabulous about even the notion of slow-roasted pork and Freebird’s carnitas do not disappoint. I decided to try the carnitas in the form of a burrito since they come in 4 sizes now including the petite “hybrid” version. After choosing my tortilla (I went with cayenne but it wasn’t overly spicy at all), I choose from the huge assortment of ingredients heading down the assembly line. Highlights included choices of cheese (including queso fresco), a gorgeous roasted corn salsa, fresh slices of avocado, especially yummy black beans and a bright “mild tomatillo” sauce (one of seven sauce choices). I couldn’t wait to dive in.

I enjoyed the burrito so much I returned for dinner the same day (yes, I’m weird like that when I take a liking to something). I brought the bf and we went for the taco special (3 tacos and a drink for $4.99). For tacos, the decisions begin with corn or flour tortilla or crispy shell. Tough decision but I went with the corn tortilla and while I really wanted to try the delicious-looking grass-fed beef, I had to have more of the carnitas. I was thrilled to discover the same toppings are available for the tacos as for the burritos … more of the grilled corn salsa and queso fresco, cilantro and the tomatillo sauce (I promise, I really will add variety as I move forward with this relationsihp). We also got a side order of chips and salsa as well as a side of queso. Wow. The tacos rocked but maybe even more impressive were the chips (fresh and hot) and the salsa … fresh, tomato-based … I suspect roasted tomatoes with plenty of cilantro and just enough heat. I appreciated the texture which is like a thick puree vs. too chunky or too thin. Good salsa is a thing of beauty. And then there’s the queso! Some of the best in town, the pale yellow queso (made from pepper jack cheese) is sublime with the hot chips.

I don’t know when we’ve been so happy for so little $$ and what I really love is that they source local ingredients whenever possible and that they actually prepare everything on premise. This means 5 hours before they open, those carnitas are in the works (after marinating for 24 hours) along with all of the prep that goes into everything they are actually cooking for the day. I really like the idea of that and I’m pretty sure that’s why things taste so fresh and good. It’s the little things that make a big difference, after all. And people seem genuinely happy to work there within the fun/funky atmosphere w/ the foil sculptures displayed along the wall. I can’t find a negative thing about the place with the possible exception of a Pepsi fountain instead of coke (but they do have Dr. Pepper AND Diet Dr. Pepper even).

While I regret not eating at Freebirds until now, I’m pretty sure I will make up for it moving forward. After all, I am now earning points via my “Freebirds Fanatic”card!

1 comment:

Albert said...

I'm glad you discovered Freebird's - I'm a huge fan, and think that they're far better than the other burrito places. I love their "Bad-Ass BBQ Sauce" and lime juice as the sauce on a beef burrito. Yum.