A few months ago I had a chimichanga at Los Agaves and made a noted mention that I would have to go back to Chilango's and see if their chimi is as good as it used to be. Chilango's used to be a regular feasting locale for our gang back in the 90s, generally as a post climbing or pre-debauchery meal, and they had what was by far the best chimichanga in town. For whatever reason, mainly because I got older and began to avoid State Street as if it was festering night and day with flesh craving zombies, I stopped going to Chilango's and have probably only been there 2 or 3 times in the last 8 years.
But today Deb and I found ourselves downtown for a Sunday afternoon movie. Hungry. Walking past Chilango's.
And we went in.
Chilango's was always a typical taqueria.......this is no longer the case. I'm not sure when they re-did the decor, or more importantly, why, but somebody was on a little too much peyote dust when they decided that what a Mexican taqueria on State Street needs is to have a little bit more of a 'modern' look. It's like someone opened up Architectural Digest and found one of those glass houses with the Jiffy Lube roll-up doors, looked at the interior photos of weird art, odd chairs and tables and said, "Now that's the kind of shit that makes me hungry for fat burritos." With a little 'stacked firewood' wall art motif thrown in (yes, firewood....?????). And some unfinished plywood seats. The place looks straight up fucking weird. Basically somebody had their head up their ass when the re-model decision was made. A smart man would've taken a picture to illustrate my point. Also, the once grand salsa bar that took up a good portion of the south wall was now relegated to a tiny table in the corner, so tiny I almost missed it.
All of this got me frightened right away, cause I'm figuring, "Ok, some complete fucking tosser bought this place and turned it into a wank-fest."
Well, enough about how ridiculous the place looks inside....we ordered a chicken chimichanga to share. At $8.95 - completely reasonable, and only $1 more than my breakfast at El Bajio on Friday (the worst breakfast burrito I've ever been served, you'll here plenty about that at a later posting). Figuring that since the food might have taken a turn for the worst, I'd cut my losses and ordered a Dos Equis draft...at FIVE bones. Not $4.50 or $4.75. But $5.00. I can't remember the last time I paid that much for a beer that wasn't at a concert venue or the ballpark...but I guess this is State Street and they try to rook the late night drunks, thereby screwing the daytime patrons. Another reason I rarely set foot downtown anymore.
Back to the chimichanga. It came out looking pretty close to the same as it used to, complete with the black plastic plates that I remember, a beautiful crisply fried burrito split down the middle with big dollops of sour cream, guacamole and pico de gallo placed next to it. Holy shit it was good. The chimi at Los Agaves (everyone's new favorite restaurant in SB, Mexican or otherwise) is pretty good, but Chilango's doesn't have a damn thing to worry about, they are still the absolute KING of this dish until someone can prove otherwise (to me at least). The thing is, I can't even pin down one thing that makes it so much better than others. There's something delightful about their chicken for sure....however I don't think the regular chicken burritos are anything super special. There's also something about the tortilla, but once again, I've had their non-fried burrito's and while they're good, I'm not writing new Psalms in their favor. So maybe it's the oil they fry it in...or how long...?? I don't know, and I don't particularly care. You can't imagine how happy I was that with the absurdity of the decor, the ingredients for greatness hadn't changed.
I'll be back. And sooner next time. But I might try to get away with BYOB.