Janitzio

janitzio on broadway in lakeview

In the spirit of Cinco de Mayo: my wife’s and my favorite cheap mexican place. For the first few years we went here, we had no idea what it was called. But it was open late, the food was cheap, and it tasted really great while drunk. Recently, we learned that it’s called Janitzio, but I always end up pronouncing it slightly wrong. Either way, it’s delicious.

janitzio interior

The inside of the restaurant is covered in murals from corner to corner. There is a flat screen tv placed uncomfortably high in the corner. It usually has Seinfeld on.

There are two large booths and then a couple of lengths of counter. There’s no garbage can in here, you just put your dishes in a bus boy container before you leave.

You can get Mexican sodas here. I once got one because it was orange, but it tasted funny. I think it’s an acquired taste thing. My wife always gets Diet Coke.

The menu at Janitzio is big. Burritos, tortas, tostadas, tacos, nachos, chimis, fries, eggs: you name it, you can probably get it here. How they have such an extensive menu at such a small place amazes me. I think I’ve had about a third to a half of what they have to offer here. At first, I would try something new every time.

But over the years, I’ve settled into a complacent happy place with their menu. Now, I usually order a chimichanga. My wife usually orders a cheese quesadilla. And we split an order a nachos regulares.

janitzio quesadilla

The quesadilla is simple. It’s a flour tortilla, cheese, and heat. It comes out quick. It’s cheap. And it hits the spot. It’s not super goopy and it’s not overflowing with cheese. For a quesadilla, it shows remarkable restraint. But the ratio is just right. Plus, when you eat at Janitzio, they give you squirt bottle of red sauce and a squirt bottle of green sauce. A dab of either on top of a bite of their quesadillas is nice little dance of salty and sweet.

beef chimichanga at janitzio

When you order the chimichanga, they ask what kind of meat you want. I don’t know what the meat options are, but for some reason, anything other than beef would worry me. The chimichanga at Janitzio is a little shy of five bucks, which is a lot. But it’s friggin huge. And it’s amazingly tasty.

chimi!

I mean, it’s hard to go wrong with a deep fried burrito, but I really like theirs. Again, I think it comes down to ratio. It’s like the opposite of Chipotle, which I’m convinced uses some sort of rubber epoxy in their tortillas in order to jam in as much food as they haphazardly do there in their burritos. At Janitzio, on the other hand, each bite gets you a good mix of spicy, savory, crunchy, cool, and hot. When you’re drunk, it’s like a snuggie for your stomach where the sleeves keep your liver in a happy place.

nachos regulares at janitzio

The nachos regulares are about $4 dollars and change. There is a super nachos option for $5.50, but my wife and I have never had it. My wife likes these because they don’t come covered in super neon yellow cheese sauce. Instead, they get their super creamy refried beans, the same cheese that’s in the quesadillas, and about an entire head of iceberg lettuce, shredded super thin. Unlike the quesadillas and the chimichangas, the ratio on the nachos regulares is a little off. But, if you’re drunk, it feels like your eating an endless pit of nachos, which is a good feeling. You just eat and eat and eat. And it reminds you, oddly, of childhood.

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