Last week I was working in an unfamiliar part of town so I did what any dedicated burritologist would do: tested new burritos! As you are likely aware, burritos originated as street food so what better place to test them than street markets. The area I was in was directly between two street markets: Exmouth Market and Leather Lane. These are the locations for Freebird Burritos and Daddy Donkey respectively but who had the superior burrito? Let the burrito battle commence!
You may remember that Dr Frost Rathbone had a not too positive experience with Freebird Burritos some time ago. However, this was (by her own admission) not an entirely scientific test as the additional factor of travel/cooling time was involved. Valuable research though this was, it was time to Burrito Benchmark™ Freebird’s offering without other disruptive factors affecting their score.
Freebird Burritos operates in three locations. I can’t speak for the others but their operation on Leather Lane is a small stall. The lack of any obvious source of power and the look of setup did make me a little concerned that I was going to get a cold burrito. As I’ve stated before, a burrito needn’t be piping hot, but it does need to be warm. This wasn’t a problem though as while I wouldn’t recommend taking your Freebird Burrito very far it was just about warm enough for me when I ate it just a few yards away.
I opted for the Carnitas with rice, black beans, the medium-hot salsa, salad and my beloved guacamole. The meat was moist, tender and flavourful. It was slow-cooked and marinaded, enhancing the flavour of the meat without overpowering it. The rice seemed lighter and fluffier than usual for a burrito and was also delicately flavoured. A nice touch adding an extra element to the mix of flavours not normally present.
A real stand out flavour in this burrito was the medium salsa. I must confess I cannot put my finger on quite what ingredient it was but it had an sharp, almost citrus-like edge to it. Despite this sounding rather out of place in a burrito it made an excellent accompaniment, cutting through the heavier meaty flavours.
To the naked eye the roll looked looser and the burrito less densely packed than average. I would have expected this to weaken to structural integrity of the burrito but I was quite wrong: it held together perfectly from first bite to last. It probably meant that there was a little less actual food than a tighter rolled burrito of the same volume would have been but nevertheless the portion was sufficient for this hungry burritologist.
Overall I thought this was a well made, flavourful burrito with some unusual touches. I must warn you that it was just warm enough so you really do need to eat in the market but as I did this it wasn’t an issue for me. I hope the other flavours and combinations of Freebird’s burritos will turn up more pleasant surprises and inventive flavours as I shall definitely be returning.
The oddly named Daddy Donkey (you can find out where it comes from on their website) is a far bigger beast. It’s about the size of a single-deck bus and it’s brightly coloured paint job was quite the antidote to a rather grey day. It’s owners were pioneers of bringing burritos to the UK and have been selling them on Leather Lane since 2006. No surprise then that they have a quite a following and I found a substantial queue ahead of me. Don’t be put off by the potential wait though – these folks can knock a burrito together in the blink of an eye and the queue dissipates quickly.
In order maintain as even a playing field as possibly I opted again for carnitas with salsa verde and guacamole. Daddy Donkey made a good first impression. The burrito was much more like the roll I expect to see: a tightly packed mix of excellent ingredients held snugly in its tortilla. A solid burrito of good consistency. It was also served hotter than the Freebird burrito – a boon as I had a short but torturously stomach-rumbling walk before I could tuck into it.
Daddy Donkey burritos come with lime and coriander rice – I felt these flavours got a little lost in everything else. No great loss though as the more flavourful elements were delicious! The meat was beautifully moist and well flavoured. There was a more traditional salsa-verde than Freebird supplied but it was very well flavoured. Just the right amount of heat and that mouth watering spicy sweetness that only good chillies and jalapeños deliver. Salad was crisp and added good texture to the burrito. Finally the tortilla was nicely textured and proportionately thin enough so as not to dilute the excellent flavours.
Overall the Daddy Donkey burrito was an excellent mix of flavours, a sizable portion and expertly and efficiently assembled. A classic burrito done very well.
And The Winner Is…
Frankly, the real winner in this bout is any burrito lover eating in this part of London as they have not one but two fine burrito vendors to choose from. If you want a solid wholesome burrito that delivers quality and quantity or you’re travelling even a short way to eat then I would direct you to Daddy Donkey. If you’d like to try something a little off the burreaten path (if you’ll excuse the pun) then you should try Freebird Burritos.
So am I declaring this a draw? Most certainly not! I am merely saying that round one has given us no clear victor and I am very much looking forward to round two! Hopefully with Dr Frost-Rathbone leading the analysis this time!