Finally, a local burrito that is easier to stomach than anything from Taco Del Mar.

Two weeks ago, Burrito Bandidos, a small locally-owned Mexican cuisine chain with four locations in Toronto, opened its first Hamilton location in the heart of Westdale. Sandwiched between hair removal and pho noodles, its red banner and warm-weather cuisine is a bright and cheery reminder of our sheepish springtime.

Joined by two friends, I headed to the new location on a Wednesday around noon. The restaurant opens daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., creating a window of time perfect for lunch, dinner, or pre-bar shenanigans (or post-bar for those of you with reasonable bedtimes). The restaurant was not busy, but they had an ample amount of staff working in the open concept kitchen where customers can watch their tight-rolled taco heaven come to life.

We ordered Steak Quesadillas ($7.50), a small Spicy Pulled Pork Burrito ($7), and as a vegetarian option, a small Bean and Cheese Burrito ($5.75) − they also offer an alternate “soy mix” as a vegan substitute for cheese. The prices are slightly more expensive than their King Street competitors, Burrito Boyz, but the extra few dollars may be worth it given its proximity to campus.

Overall the service was quite quick, and we didn’t have to wait more than ten minutes for any of our meals. The quesadillas were generously sized and came with salsa and sour cream. They lost some points for a lack of guacamole. They also lost some points when their “steak” turned out to be ground beef, and the grease from the melted cheese and grilling oil created a small, transparent window at the bottom of the take-out container. The flavour was tasty, but the oozing liquid being secreted from the excessive amount of cheese took away from the experience.

The burritos on the other hand were a crowd-pleasing experience. The choose-your-own-topping station provided a variety of choices (thumbs up for guacamole) that made for a unique flavour combination. Their burritos also came nicely packaged in a foil casing, as well as a narrow brown bag, that picked up spillage and messes in between bites.

They were generously sized, especially for a “small”, and extremely filling. The addition of rice in the bean and cheese option made it the favourite choice of the afternoon.

The restaurant itself is quite spacious with plenty of available seating for customers and a charming chili-shaped “Open” sign and silk-screened art. But the backless stools and a lack of coat hangers made it a bit difficult to comfortably enjoy your meal. Enjoying a burrito does not mean you need to stay wrapped up like one.

All in all, the burritos were tasty and would be ideal for pre-Westdale Theatre munchies, or post-hair removal self pity. Burrito Bandidos is keeping it wrapped up tight.

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