I’m not a regular user of fast food joints, partly because the vegetarian menus are usually limited but mostly cuz the food just tastes shitty. That’s the problem with knowing how to cook; your tolerance for bad food takes a steep tumble. But still, I’m not against eating processed corporate calories, and that whiny, moralistic tsk, tsk-ing of liberals and vegetarians aggravates me just as much as it does you. So when I found out that lil’ Carlos was making his own version of the HR’s there was no need for an ethical dilemma round table in my skull: I’m There!
While I quickly thumbed through the weekly bulk mail ads, looking for the Big Saver circular I always anticipate (how many cilantros for a dollar this week?) this big flyer for Huevos Rancheros popped right out, as if it was a personal message to me. And though I looked, it was still only a bulk mailing. And it came with a 2-for-1 coupon, which you can see I’ve just redeemed.
The service was very friendly, I even received a number so I could sit at a table and have my meal delivered.
And here are my HR’s! I should mention they were packaged in the form of breakfast burritos, but if I can risk my luck with HR’s in a cone, wrapped in a flour tortilla is a cakewalk. Breakfast burritos are not some invention from the corporate world, Mexicans and Chicanos have been making those for ages. Huevos con Papas, Huevos y Weenies, Papas con Frijoles, Papas y Chorizo, Huevos y Papas con Weenies y Frijoles con Chorizo; all kinds of combinations have made their way into flour tortilla rolls, wrapped up tight in aluminum foil for the day at work or a road trip. I’m partial to that steamy chewiness they take on after a few hours. Here’s a tip my dad taught me: shove your foil wrapped burrito stack somewhere next to the radiator of your car and they’ll stay warm for hours. We don’t need no stinkin’ microwaves!
Might as well unwrap one so you can see what a Carl’s Jr. Huevos Rancheros Breakfast Burrito looks like. Mmm, messy. The first problem I see is that the eggs are scrambled, that’s bad form. They also added beans to the mix, when it really should have been a side. They added cheese as well, not uncommon but you all know I’m not a fan of the queso on this dish. You can’t make it out from this pic, but there are small tortilla chips in this gooey mess, so technically they did use a fried tortilla, yay! And there’s some red sauce over on the right side, but not much.
The dish came with a big pack of Salsa, is this the Ranchero Sauce? This has more salt and sugar than it does garlic, that’s not a good sign. And who the fuck puts sugar in their salsa? Mensos, that’s who.
But I’m here to enjoy the experience, not to be a naysayer. Thus I piled on some of that Salsa onto my HR’s and this pic above is kinda how it looks. Sorry if it’s gross, but the pic of a non-bitten burrito wasn’t worth posting. So how did it taste? My first nibble was an overwhelming explosion of saltiness. And so was the next. I could make out the texture of the eggs and beans, and the sugary tomato dressing they call salsa, but most of all I just tasted salt. Luckily I splurged on a cup of water. And then I tasted papery cardboard, with some sharpish edges, until I realized those were the tortilla strips. Not quite what I expected, but a fried tortilla strip is better than just a warm tortilla strip. If you’ve ever eaten fast food, your visually informed concept of this edible package will be similar to the actual sensory experience you’d expect if it were on your tongue. There’s nothing surprising about bland, but just add a few teaspoons of salt onto that blandness and you’d be right on the money.
I took a look at the details on this dish and wasn’t surprised that this single breakfast burrito had 1550mg of sodium, almost 2/3 of the amount of sodium you should consume daily. No wonder my mouth was all puckered and dry for the rest of the day. Maybe most fast food consumers have grown accustomed to the saltiness, but it was quite a shock to me. Salt used to be a precious commodity but not anymore; corporate food makers always stuff their products with salt to give the impression of taste, a sort of cheap sensory hammer. I would have described some of the other flavors in this meal but it was really beyond my means to decipher anything other than the overpowering saltiness. I dare you to try and notice something else.
One thing I did appreciate of Carl’s version of the HR is the ability to grab the meal with your hand, something almost unseen in most of my HR posts, other than the stupid coney one. I like to eat with my hands, cutting off a piece of tortilla and picking up some food. Or when I make my own Huevos Rancheros at home, picking up the fried egg topped tortilla like a taco and making an attempt at a first bite. It’s always a satisfyingly messy crunch. But this burrito thing is something else entirely.
Here’s how this dish would look if it was presented like normal HR’s, though I added a pack of salsa and an identifying sticker. Needless to say, I didn’t eat this second burrito. I ran out of water.
3215 N Broadway (323) 441-1910
Los Angeles, CA 90031