Tuesday, January 29, 2013

REVIEW: Neato Burrito, 2nd Ave in Harrisburg

The very first time that I was ever in Harrisburg, to my knowledge, was Passover 2001. The Wife and I had been dating for about six months, and it was getting serious. Serious enough, in fact, that I was invited to spend Passover with Aunt M and family. We stayed in the Crown Plaza hotel at the corner of 2nd Ave and Chestnut. Aunt M's house is down 2nd Ave a few miles, which made it an extremely easy ride back and forth. Right down the block, about a quarter miles from the hotel, is the restaurant "Neato Burrito." They have a small neon side sticking out from the side of the restaurant with their name. I saw it and fell in love, immediately, with the name "Neato Burrito."

We uldn't eat at Neato Burrito because it was Passover, with the dietary restrictions. When I'm around my wife and family, I keep strict Passover eating conditions. Neato Burrito got put on the back burner, so to speak, for a non-Passover visiting time. The only problem? Stuff always came up: we weren't in Harrisburg long enough, we didn't have time, etc., etc., etc. There's always a reason. This past trip, for Princess P's baby party, there were no real plans in between our arrival in Harrisburg on Saturday afternoon and the party the next day, so we went to Neato Burrito for dinner.

The first thing that struck us was how neat the restaurant was. I'm not sure what we were expecting - probably your stereotypical hole-in-the-wall restaurant, with a reasonable amount of ground-in stuff and peeling paint. The restaurant was tastefully decorated with 1950's style advertising pictures and was trim and simple in its table arrangement. The queue for the counter was clearly and neatly set up. This is definitely not the standard hold-in-the-wall restaurant.

In most ways, it reminded me of a Subway restaurant: you order your bread first, then beans and rice, then meat, salsa, and veggies. The tortilla selection had simple (wheat or white) or "gourmet." I went with the jalapeno cheese tortilla, The Wife and boys went with wheat. They had a couple of different styles of beans and of rice, ranging again from the simple (black beans and white rice) to the complicated (refried beans, Mexican rice). They had the normal types of cheeses. They had beef, chicken, and vegetarian options for meat, and several different types of salsas, with hot sauces available as well. In short, there are many different combinations possible, many of them delicious.

My burrito came out huge - normally more than I eat in a single sitting. I hadn't had much lunch or breakfast (for no discernable reason), so I polished it off in moments. I got the black beans, Mexican rice, spicy beef, extra jalapenos, and medium-hot salsa. It was quite good - comparable to Qdoba, although waiting for ten years might have made the anticipation that much more delicious. The Wife had a plain chicken burrito that she shared with The Baby. She liked it, but The Baby had a bit of a problem picking up the shredded chicken. He was interested in the black beans ("Bean!" he said, showing me a single black bean he had picked up) and the chicken, not so much into the rice. Cheese is always good.

The older boys had a burrito each, but in retrospect, we should have gotten one bowl - without the wrap - and had them share it, as neither kid finished half of their burrito. The kids meals came with chips and a drink, and the chips were gone before the burritos were touched. The Boy did a quality job on his burrito and enjoyed it. Little Bear doesn't like tortillas right now, so he unwrapped his and ate the insides with a fork and spoon.

The prices were reasonable, particularly considering the amount of food that we got (and the fact that our dinner was heavily subsidized by Grandma). All told, our dinner came out to around $30 for all 4.5 of us (The Baby didn't get his own meal, and we got additional drinks for the grownups). I recommend Neato Burrito for anyone who like a nice place for a quick meal - it's not fast food, it's quickly prepared food, if you understand the difference.

I certainly hope that it's less than 12 years before my next trip!

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