Moe’s

Back in high school, there would be a borough-wide weekly holiday called Joey Tuesday. All day every Tuesday, there would be a special at Moe’s Southwest Grill where you could get a burrito, chips, and soda for a whopping FIVE DOLLARS ($5.45 after tax). My high school happened to be a quick 10 minute walk from this discount burrito temple, and by senior year, everyone and their mothers observed Joey Tuesdays religiously.

It was my first memorable burrito experience. It was something to look forward to every week, and after I left for college, on breaks. Unfortunately, when I returned from college and was around on a Tuesday, I went to Moe’s to discover that they had raised the price to six dollars. And an extra 30 cents for steak. I was not amused, but I stayed faithful. I preferred it to Chipotle and it was still a kind of place to run into everyone you know on a Tuesday – be it a positive or negative experience. I’m not sure if it was the price increase or it came time for the end of an era, but the spark died out. Joey Tuesdays aren’t the same anymore. I mean, I’ve only been on Staten Island for one Tuesday in a little over a year, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who’s over it.

I recall Joeys (the actual name of the burrito) being glorious. The best damn burrito I’d ever tasted. I laughed in the face of Chipotle and Qdoba after Moe’s tasty treat. After a year of avid burrito nomming, I’m not so sure about the status of Moe’s Joeys. Perhaps Joeys were not as glorious as I recalled.

When I was a burrito newbie, I requested ground beef as my filler. When I made the transition from ground beef to steak, my life changed (in the burrito world). Returning as a burrito connoisseur, I must say that I’ve had better. The steak was a bit too transparent. It had the consistency of tofu, and mostly tasted like it, too. Did I really have to kill a cow for that? It was kind of soggy, with some chewiness, and the flavor was lost in the sog(giness). I could taste hints of smoky flavor in select bites, and I appreciated those hints, but it wasn’t quite the hearty steak that I had anticipated.

The rice and beans were regular. I could have made them, and I’m not capable of cooking much. I distinctly remember a good blend of shredded cheese from the ancient burrito days, but they cheaped out this time and there wasn’t much queso to enjoy. When there is a generous helping of it, it complements the steak very well and adds pizzazz to the core rice, beans, n’ steak medley.

Pico de gallo did not stick around for much either. The hint of it that was there had a decent tomato kick that complemented the mediocre rice. I can’t complain too much because Moe’s has a superb sauce bar, comprised of six unique sauces, and you are free to have all the salsa you wan’t.

Speaking of extras, Moe’s has many options behind the counter, too. If you’re a big spender, they even have bacon that they could throw on your burrito upon request. I added on some lettuce, cilantro, jalepenos, onions, and olives. The lettuce wasn’t a big deal, but it wasn’t a buzzkill; not bad, no regrets. Cilantro was fresh, but not much flavor. At least not the regular kick you get from cilantro. The onions were fun to have around. They were diced, so you get a little onion crunch every couple of bites. I appreciated the olives, especially because most burritos don’t have olives and I personally enjoy the neutralized flavor they contribute. The jalepenos would have been great, had there been more than two. If I order jalepenos, I clearly enjoy their spicy flavor, please do not refrain from sprinkling them around my burrito. The quick affair was good though. It was actually hot with the enjoyable aftertaste and something between crunchy and soggy.

Now I really went all out on this last burrito and got sour cream and guacamole because I got a free birthday meal voucher and I’m too cheap to pay for it otherwise. That’s another great thing about Moe’s, if you sign up to be a member, whatever that means, you get a coupon for a free entre for your birthday week every year! I’m glad I had this experience because the guac was thoroughly enjoyable. It was chunky, yet smooth, and had a delightfully flavorful avocado taste. Good going, Moe! The sour cream was a cool slap in the face, in the best of ways, but I could have done without it.

I cannot, however, do without chipotle sauce, but I actually forgot it on my belated birthday burrito. I was enraged, but luckily, I attended Joey Tuesday the day before and was graced with chipotle charm. Have you ever had chipotle sauce? If you answered no, then you don’t know what love is. This particular experience was good, but not like I remember from the good old Tuesdays. It was less creamy, more diluted than in the past, but still a treat for your tastebuds.

Moe’s has a bunch of other fun mexican dishes, too: fajitas, quesadillas, nachos, and the like. But come on, I obviously go for the burritos. Although I do hear their nachos are quite swell, I suggest giving those a try.

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