There is something very satisfying about a burrito. It’s hard to put my finger on it. Maybe it’s the non-breadiness of the wrap. Or the interesting mix of textures of the beans, rice, cheese and salsa. Or the tingliness of the salsa itself. Or even the mixture of hot and cold temperatures. I don’t know what it is. But I like it.
I won’t bore you with my roundabout journey today (including accidentally trying to go the wrong way up a one-way street) but anyway, eventually, I arrived at Clarendon Market, the laneway between Clarendon Row and South William Street/Johnson’s Place. Peter’s Pub is the nearest landmark I can think of.
I was heading for Pablo Picanté, a burrito place. Its webpage contains location, opening hours and menu. Its Facebook page is here. If you scroll down the Facebook page a bit you’ll find a picture of a very cute-looking chihuahua in a sombrero. The page has 5024 likes so I’m guessing Pablo Picanté is pretty well known. (It has another branch on Baggot Street.)
At first sight, the place looks a little cramped,
… with two huge tables and four benches filling up the available space. But actually, it’s HUGE. At the opposite end to the door there’s a connected space with seating against the wall and then upstairs there’s seating for about 50 more people. Outside there are about four tables, each with four chairs. So, it and its newer cousin next door, Pablo’s Tortas, together can probably accommodate about 80-90 people at a push.
It was buzzing when I was there. Lunchers (students mainly, with a scattering of young male shoppers) were finishing up and getting ready to go and there was a steady stream of people coming in and placing orders, the majority intending to eat in but some taking food away. A lot of customers were wearing hats.
When you’ve ordered your food at the cash desk, chosen your preferred level of salsa heat from this chart,
… (I chose Picante), and paid (in my case, €4.75, for the Bean and Cheese Burrito), you are given a receipt with an order number and you wait for your burrito to be made. Some people find a seat. Others (like me) wait and watch the fascinating, efficient and speedy process of burrito manufacture.
When your burrito is ready, they call out your number and you collect your food. If you’re already sitting down, someone will carry your food around the restaurant, shouting your number until they find you. This seems like a very time/staff consuming process. On at least three occasions while I was there, a staff member walked around the ground floor, up the stairs, down another staircase and had to go outside before she found the (hopefully) grateful recipient.
Anyway, I waited beside the counter, like a good boy. Here’s what I got …
And here’s what it looked like, opened …
and bitten in to …
Gloriously tasty, with all the mix of textures spoken about above, lovely fresh tomato chunks and a nice burst of heat from the salsa that left my mouth and lips tingling for ages afterwards. It’s quite a size, though you wouldn’t guess that from my crappy photos. Very filling and very satisfying.
I suppose that if I hadn’t been restricted by my fiver limit, I would have ordered one with meat in it. But actually, in a creation such as this, I didn’t miss it and, as I often do when I eat a meal without meat, I felt virtuous after it. Full and virtuous. By the way, the little wooden bowl is a good idea. Burritos leak.
The Bean and Cheese burrito is the only one under a fiver on the menu. I’m a little confused about the student offer. On the website, there’s a Student offer for a fiver. In the restaurant itself, this board
seems to suggest that it’s €6 but that it includes a drink. Whatever, it’s pretty good value anyway.
I mentioned Pablo’s Tortas next door. (Torta = This.) It definitely has a student deal for a fiver, and here’s the proof …
I like Pablo Picanté. It’s buzzy and noisy with enthusiastic chat. It’s bright and clean. And my burrito was satisfying and only cost this …
… and that, as they say, is what it’s all about.