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Finding chicken burritos in Champaign-Urbana, part two

After realizing just how many chicken burritos exist in Champaign-Urbana while writing my previous article, I decided to dive back in and see what else C-U has to offer. Up for review this time are the chicken burritos from Moe’s, La Mixteca, Fernando’s, and Huaraches.

A Moe's burrito. Only the flour tortilla is visible. It sits on unwrapped tin foil on a dark, plastic cafeteria tray. Photo by Matthew Macomber.

First on my list was Moe’s Southwest Grill. Their chicken burritos come in a twelve-inch ($7.49) or a ten-inch ($6.49) size. I chose the smaller variety. For those who’ve eaten at a Chipotle, Moe’s is quite similar. Customers wait in line and choose what type of rice, meat, vegetables, sauce, and so they want on their food. Unlike Chipotle, Moe’s offers over twenty different add-on options. I noticed this made for a slower line than a Chipotle, so it’s up to you how much time the extra options are worth. I was more than happy to wait for my burrito with white rice, pico de gallo, shredded cheese, green peppers, sour cream, grilled onions, and mushrooms. Mushrooms are a topping I especially enjoy, but have trouble finding as an option for burritos, so I appreciated the offer at Moe’s. The quality of ingredients and taste was also like a Chipotle. The chicken was cut into small, tender chunks that balanced well with the juicier ingredients I chose to add. It is hard to make a burrito that tastes bad at Moe’s, but even the best made burrito at Moe’s won’t match the quality of one made at a local Mexican restaurant.

Burrito at Huaraches Moroleon is sliced in half. The inside of the burrito includes rice, tomatoes, chicken, and beans. It is on an oval white plate. On the plate is a small sald consisting of pico de gallo, sour cream, and shredded lettuce. Photo by Matthew Macomber.

Next, I visited community favorite Huaraches Moroleon. Though small, this place is well-respected for excellent Mexican food. My chicken burrito ($8.75) came out much sooner than I expected — I hadn’t made it half-way through the complimentary chips and salsa before staff delivered the burrito to my table. Unlike a fast-casual burrito chain like Moe’s, Huaraches slices their burritos in half before serving. As someone who can’t add enough of Huarache’s smoky chipotle salsa to all their food, I appreciated the pre-sliced burrito so I could more easily add salsa into it. Unfortunately, I treated this burrito largely as a receptacle for salsa, as it didn’t have much flavor of its own. It was also very light on cheese, which made for a cleaner eating experience, but less fatty goodness to pull the rest of the ingredients together. Granted, the rice, pinto beans, pico de gallo, lettuce, and sour cream provided didn’t taste bad by any means, but the chicken burrito at Huaraches Moroleon is as exceptional as other items on the menu.

Viva Mexico burrito at La Mixteca. It's served on a square white plate with a steak knife, small salad consisting of shreded lettuce, pico de gallo, and sour cream, and a side of rice. The burrito is enrobed in three sauces: on the left a red sauce, in the middle a white cheese sauce, and on the right a green sauce. Photo by Matthew Macomber.

Because I hadn’t visited La Mixteca since my original review, I was very interested to return and taste their version of a chicken burrito. Unsure what the best burrito to order with chicken at La Mixteca, I asked the staff and they recommended the Viva Mexico burrito ($9.99). Imagine my surprise when my burrito came out covered in various sauces to match the flag of Mexico! For variety, each sauce is a different level of spice, with the red sauce the hottest, the white cheese the mildest, and the salsa verde somewhere in between. This helped vary my meal, as the interior was mostly lean strips of chicken, lettuce, refried beans, and tomatoes. I also want to mention that this fourteen-inch burrito along with the sides of rice and lettuce is enough food for two people, so think of this as a $5 meal if you and a friend don’t typically eat much at restaurants. Overall, the Viva Mexico tasted just as good as it looked, and there was plenty of that goodness to go around.

Burrito from Fernando's food truck. Only the white flour tortilla is visible. The burrito sits in unwrapped wax and tin foil on a reddish wood table. Photo by Matthew Macomber.

Finally, I made a quick stop at Fernando’s food truck for my final chicken burrito ($7, cash only). With the Daniel Street location closed due to demolition of the corner block, I ventured over to the standard Wednesday to Saturday evening location near the newspaper boy statue in the News-Gazette parking lot. Waiting only five minutes for my burrito, I dug in once I made it home. While Fernando’s puts similar ingredients in their burritos as their competitors such as refried beans, tomatoes, sour cream, and lettuce, two additions stuck out to me. While other places I’ve reviewed sometimes put onions into their burritos, Fernando’s uses long pieces of perfectly grilled onions. As someone who enjoys grilled onions immensely, this is a big deal for me. In addition to the onions, the chicken is finely shredded and cooked in such a way that it stays nice and juicy. While Fernando’s didn’t add much spice or seasoning to their burrito, their red or green salsas added plenty of spice for my taste.

After another dive into the chicken burrito scene of Champaign-Urbana, I’m happily surprised by the variety of ways burritos differ in our area with Moe’s for customization, Huaraches for the salsas, La Mixteca for the presentation and size, and the low cost and freshness of Fernando’s chicken burrito. Which ones will you try? 

Top photo of La Mixteca’s Viva Mexico burrito by Matthew Macomber.

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