Freaky Burrito in Newport offers a local version of the stuffed burrito
Sometimes we New English people take our time to adjust to a good idea.
It’s hard to believe, but the over-stuffed burrito is a relatively new phenomenon in these areas. For many of us, a burrito has always been either a log on a plate covered in sauce and cheese and served in a Mexican restaurant, or something you bought late at night at a gas station and which you have. definitely burned his mouth after microwaveing it. It wasn’t until the early 2000s that many of us discovered a small, quick-service restaurant called Chipotle and a giant hand-rolled burrito stuffed with fresh meats, beans, rice, salsas (and whatever. might fit) wrapped in tin foil and ready to go. It was a new idea – picking your ingredients and watching a cook roll them up just for you – and it was delicious. Finally, New England has started to share the joy of burritos.
When Chipotle first opened on East Main Road a few years ago, it was exciting to finally have one of those famous burrito makers on the island; we wouldn’t have to go burrito hunting anymore. But, as it usually goes with great ideas, we quickly found other places we could get a good burrito fix. Salsa has opened in Portsmouth, bringing a more authentic flavor and a locally owned feel to the burrito market. After some success, its sister restaurant, the Tijuana Burrito Grill, opened on Broadway. We also started to see over-stuffed burritos on the menus of our favorite Mexican restaurants, like Tito’s and Diego’s. It looks like Newport has finally and fully embraced the joy of stuffed burritos. Fortunately, there is a new addition to the burrito market.
Freaky Burrito opened at Perry Mill at 337 Thames St. It’s a new concept from the owners of the Midtown Oyster Bar and Surf Club and they are open Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 9pm. They are located just behind the Wave sculpture where their orange-red door panel will benefit from the added marketing value of being in the background of every Instagram tourist photo.
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The space is clean, as you would expect from a new restaurant, and the colors and decor give off a bright, welcoming vibe. There are a few tables along the wall where you can sit and eat your burrito or bowl, but the focal point of the space is the cooking line. It’s here that you can see all of your options freshly made in front of you and where the friendly staff craft a culinary creation to your specifications. It’s a similar setup to what you would find in Chipotle, but the way she comes out of Chipotle’s shadow is through her food.
With the chefs of the Surf Club behind the menu, you expect to see fresh and exciting flavors, and that’s exactly what you get. In the tradition of any good burrito restaurant, this is a small menu with just enough options to create a unique masterpiece. Try their blackened chicken for a nice spicy, grilled flavor or their braised pork shoulder for a tender and flavorful protein option. Add the Braised Black Beans with one of the rice options like Freaky Rice or, for something a little different, their Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice. The real star of all burrito cooking is the salsas and sauces and this is where Freaky Burrito goes crazy. They have the standards like Salsa Roja and Salsa Verde, but when you dive into their Pineapple Salsa, Honey Chipotle Aioli or their Chili Soy Vinaigrette, this is where things get interesting. Your burrito creations are only limited by the limits of your imagination.
Fries, salsa and guacamole complete the menu as well as a few cocktails available on site or to take away such as seltzer and margaritas. Jarritos Mexican Sodas, a burrito-spot standard, is also available. Freaky has established itself as a new must-see in the heart of downtown Newport. It’s perfect for a quick, filling bite to eat on a paved respite or to grab a burrito for the beach or hotel. You can order online for a quick and easy pickup or, as of last weekend, you can order delivery from the folks at Newport Dine Out.
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We’ve seen some great things from the folks at Midtown Oyster and Surf Club and Freaky Burrito seems to be another star in their growing lineup. For people who like an over-stuffed burrito, it’s exciting to have another great option in town. While we can still marvel at the rapid success of Chipotle (the company now makes 200,000 burritos per hour) and appreciate the contribution they have made to the burrito-loving masses, if we have the opportunity to go locally, we will. The best advice we can give for finding a great burrito is to keep it fresh, keep it local, and now, keep it weird.
Dan Lederer is a Middletown resident with 30 years of experience in the New England restaurant industry. He continues to work locally behind the scenes of the industry and remains a staunch fan of all things food and hospitality. His column appears on newportri.com and Thursdays in The Daily News. Cheers!