Alibi V.26 No.46 • Nov 16-22, 2017 

Restaurant Review

An “Instant” Favorite

Burritos Alinstante

The #13 tacos
The #13 tacos

That life doesn’t necessarily work out as planned is both the curse and the miracle of existence. Which isn’t to say that life doesn’t work out, because it has a funny way of doing just that. More that it’s our ability to manage when things go sideways on us that makes a miracle of the curse. A quick read of the history of Burritos Alinstante, and it’s clear that this local franchise’s story is rife with precisely this dynamic. Over the years and through the trials and tribulations, their New Mexican fast food, with that like-your-grandma-made-it love, has withstood each test, delivering their downright affordable menu “in an instant.”

Originally offered simply as a vehicle to showcase their tortillas, the burritos and the business that’s grown up around them has won diners over with word-of-mouth and consistency. Stop in and you’ll find a utilitarian space, a few tables and chairs for a quick bite, for all those folks who aren’t just grabbing burritos or tacos on the go. At the Broadway location, there’s a corrugated metal counter to order, where you can watch your food made fresh. There’s also a drive-thru, a luxury you can’t always get for your down-home local fast food buck.

Breakfast burritos ($4.78), served until noon, come in three basic proteins: bacon, chorizo and sausage along with the age-old question: “red, green or Christmas?” I took one of each, chiles on the side, so I could compare and contrast each—foolishly expecting a clear victor to emerge. Turns out I’m still waiting, because all three burritos, with both chiles, separately and together, were terrific. It’s easy for a breakfast burrito to fall victim to the too-much-of-one-ingredient syndrome, often the potato—but each was a well-balanced machine of egg, potato and cheese. The protein, while not overwhelming, was definitely there in every bite. Still, if you’re famished, you might opt for double meat—which should be plenty. Even now I can’t decide which meat-and-chile combination I prefer. I’d happily eat them all again. The tortillas are pliable and light on that sometimes “doughy” note found in a lesser product. The folds of scrambled egg were fluffy, the grated cheese gooey throughout, and there was just a hint of butter in the potatoes. The meats were all chopped small, so no worry that you’ll drag it all out with your first bite. If you twist my arm, I’ll say the red goes best with the chorizo, but only by the slightest of margins—and it’s a straight tie all the way around. Build your go-to burrito and my guess is you’ll have a new favorite to grab whenever you’re nearby.

It’s easy for a breakfast burrito to fall victim to the too-much-of-one-ingredient syndrome, often the potato—but each was a well-balanced machine of egg, potato and cheese.

Be it a lunch or dinner you’re after, again, I took a similar approach—opting for a few burritos and adding the chile after, so as to sample most of the burritos on offer. And, again, it was a close contest, though I think the #3 ($6.29 ground beef, potatoes, cheese and green chile—though equally delish with red or Christmas) and the #5 ($6.29 carne adobada, rice and cheese—red, by just a touch) were my tie for best. The #6 ($6.29 chicken, lettuce, tomato, sour cream and cheese—green, by a touch) was only just a smidge behind. With the #3, it’s clearly how they spice the ground beef—something you’ll hear more about shortly. The rice that comes on the #5 was a surprise and a delight—as we’ve all been there, and know what it’s like when the rice doesn’t work. I’m tempted to try the #5 with some nacho cheese, and even some sour cream, as that’ll probably bring it too. The chicken in the #6 is well-seasoned, shredded into thin ribbons and soaks up your chile choice perfectly. If you’re a taco fiend like me, you’ll be right at home with the #13 ($7.34). It’s three tacos: ground beef or chicken, with the requisite lettuce, tomato, cheese and choice of chile or fresh salsa. For me, the salsa was a distant third to the chiles, and as far as the tacos go—again it’s the spice in the ground beef that has it winning over the chicken. I’m not even sure what they do with the spice—it’s a subtle undercurrent that’s worlds away from the sometimes overpowering “taco flavor” used in a pinch. Whatever it is, it makes for great tacos, and works with both the Alinstante nachos ($9.56 chips, ground beef, beans, jalapeños, lettuce, tomato and nacho cheese) and the Frito pie ($6.29 Fritos, ground beef, beans, red chile, nacho cheese, lettuce and tomato) too. Both are generous in size and make a quick and easy appetizer or addition to your order.

If there’s a downside to their quick-stop takeaway, it’s that you’ll likely want to eat it up in an instant too. The tortillas stand up to the wet ingredients, but your crunchy tacos won’t stay crunchy for a citywide commute—a minor point when balanced against the traditional, lovingly familiar flavors. And I’m not sure the vegetarian or vegan diner will find much on the menu—as I think both chiles are prepared with either some meat or dairy. If you’re lucky, you’ve known or work with or are related to someone who brings this kind of quality to potlucks and festivities, and everyone but the chef gives you a hard time for going back for seconds. Now there’s no need to wait for that next office party or weekend get-together because that true, New Mexican flavor, that rock-solid red and green chile, and Burritos Alinstante’s simple, almost-humble menu delivers a corazon conteno at a price-point that’ll keep both your panza and your billetera llena!

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Burritos Alinstante

Two Locations in Albuquerque, plus a Belen, a Los Lunas and a Bosque Farms Location
Hours: Vary slightly by location
Alibi Recommends: Breakfast: your choice—you can’t miss; lunch/dinner: The #3 or the #5.
Vibe: Utilitarian tables at an otherwise quick-stop takeaway that serves up affordable bites “in an instant.”