Dine on a dime: Burrito style

Hey everyone, Eric Waddon here as I will be every Wednesday for our group blog.  This week is dine on a dime week and when I think of that I think of value.  I myself like to eat in as much as possible but I do like to treat myself out to some food two or three times a week to switch it up.  Graduating in May, I will only be here so long so I like to take advantage of the local food places.

One of my favorite foods in the world to eat is burritos.  Ever since I had a Chipotle Burrito I fell in love.  Something about the combination of sour cream, rice, lettuce and chicken just does it for me.  Although burritos aren’t the cheapest things (usually won’t find one under $5), I feel like the amount of food and fullness you get out of one compensates in value.  I decided to compare the value of two of my favorite burrito places here in Morgantown: Chico’s Fat and Black Bear Burritos.

Chico's Fat located on High Street

Chico’s Fat is a self proclaimed California Style Burrito & Taco shop.  They sell burritos, bowls, salads, tacos, quesadillas and all the normal things you might find in a burrito shop.  The atmosphere inside is kind of a South Western Motif with a lot of Indian style rugs, cactuses and desert like décor.  They have been in Morgantown for over 2 years now located on High Street.

They have a traditional assembly line setup when you step up to order your burrito.  I went with a regular burrito which seemed to be the best value burrito at $7.50 versus the basic $5.25 and the super $8.75.  On that comes rice, choice of beans, choice of meat, (carne asada, barbacoa, carnitas, al pastor, chili verde, pollo asado, pollo en salsa roja)pico de gallo, cheese & salsa.

Their burrito is adequetly sized probably weighing around a pound.  Chico’s Fat burritos seem to be fatter than they are long.  I usually like a skinnier burrito so you can get the rice and all of the ingredients in the same bite.  I really liked this burrito.  Their rice is more of a western style, it’s a dirty brown with some nice spice to it versus the traditional salty white rice.  They have a great selection of hot sauce and salsas that add to the flavor.  Sour cream and corn are huge for me in a burrito and I felt like theirs could have been better because I couldn’t taste the sour cream as much and the corn wasn’t seasoned that great but the chicken was really good.  Overall I really enjoyed the flavor.  The rice gives it a nice punch and the wrap job and tortilla were excellent.  Another nice thing is that included with your burrito is a nice side of chips and salsa.  I really liked these chips they had a nice tortilla flavor with a good amount of salt and again the hot dipping salsa was awesome.  With a drink it cost me $9.59 and at the end I was more than full and satisfied.

I thought they had good service.  They have two people working the assembly line unlike most places who sometimes only have one.  The atmosphere inside seems a little forced but it is a not a bad place to sit down and have lunch with your friends.  When I go back I will be looking to try the Baja Fish burrito which includes a baja slaw and jalapeño crème fresh.  I definitely recommend Chico’s Fat to the average burrito fan.

Black Bear's full bar

Black Bear Burritos is located off Pleasant and High Street in downtown Morgantown.  Right across from 123 Pleasant Street Rock Venue, it holds to its counterpart by offering live music 3-4 times a week.  Black Bear is about 2-3 times the size of Chico’s Fat and has a lot more to offer than burritos, people definitely come here for the atmosphere.  They have a bunch of tables, a stage for musicians and even a full bar.  Black Bear offers a variety of drinks and plenty of beer on tap, but were here to talk about burritos today.  Black Bear is definitely more expensive than Chico’s Fat.  At first you see that a burrito is only $4.25 but where they get you is that you have to buy the ingredients to go with.  I got a Build Your Own Burrito with rice, cheese salsa,  +$1.50 chicken, lettuce + $.75, roasted corn +.$75, blue cheese crumbles +1.00, and sour cream +$.50.  With a drink the total came to $11 which for me is a little pricy.  Anytime I’m spending more than $10 for a meal I feel like I should really be getting my money’s worth.  Black Bear also provides a ton of chips but they are nowhere near as good as Chico’s Fat, in fact they were pretty bland.  The burrito was anything but.  The roasted corn and sour cream were much better here and made the burrito taste a lot better as a whole in my opinion.  I really liked the way they wrap their burritos as well more long than short and plump.  They have white rice which is more like Chipotle if you have ever been there.  Overall, this was a very good burrito as well which is to be expected when paying so much.  You do get a very big burrito though for the cost and if you were full you could probably eat half and save the rest for later which is what I do sometimes.  What’s the point of eating past being full?  The cool thing about Black Bear is definitely the indie like music atmosphere.  It’s an awesome place to go with your friends to sit back and have a dinner and listen to some great live music at no additional cost, you can even have a beer or glass of wine as well.  On a funny side note, right now their signature burrito is the Charlie Sheen:

“GO CRAZY with this pepper-cheese tortilla filled with romaine lettuce mix, fresh tomatoes, diced cucumber, provolone cheese and roasted red peppers.  We add chicken (or tofu) grilled in ginger-soy marinade and add our sweet vinaigrette dressing.  (We have Pepsi products so we can’t serve it with coke.)  WINNING!”

Overall, I think I would have to say that Chico’s Fat gives you the most for your dollar and have a very good burrito.  I would say Black Bear might be a little bit better flavor wise tasting but their chips aren’t as good and you will pay a little bit more.  But go out on a night when there is live music and the extra $2 you pay will be made up with a live performance.


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10 Responses to Dine on a dime: Burrito style

  1. Black Bear has, I’d say by far, the BEST queso and guacamole in town. Their salsa and fruit salsas are also AMAZING. And they have a variety depending on the time of year. These can be a little pricey, but when you split it with a group, it comes down to a few dollars each – delic!

  2. rdlwvufan says:

    I had an interesting experience the one and only time I ate at Chico’s. I went in kind of late with a few friends, and at the time I had an awesome beard going on. Well, apparently my unkempt look made the workers suspicious of me, because when we were leaving, the one guy came outside and was accusing me of taking beer into the restaurant. I told him I didn’t (I don’t even drink), and he seemed okay. He leaves and comes back out a minute later and said he got his signals crossed and actually meant to chew me out for accidentally throwing the basket away that the food came in. Anyway, I don’t know if any of that made sense, but if not, just know that it didn’t to me either.

    As for Black Bear, I’ve been in Morgantown for a long time and have yet to eat there. With the prices the way they are, I doubt I ever will.

  3. I will admit as well that my favorite thing about Black Bear is the enviornment. When I think about a burrito place, I do not normally think about a stage with performers and the Indie environment that Black Bear offers. They also have a very interesting system for getting your food back. I will not spoil it for those of you who have never eaten there, but let’s just say that it is a little more fun than take a number. The thing I do not like about Black Bear is the prices though. They are huge, but I suppose you are also paying for the neat, college atmosphere as well as that Mexican wad of amazing-ness sitting in front of you.

  4. tonicekada says:

    Black Bear wins it for me! And I can SOO eat the entire burrito haha! I also love Black Bear because the serve msot of their food based on organic or all-natural ingredients. That’s probably why the chips tasted a bit more bland to you than they did at Chico’s…probably no salt added. The music there is definitely a great plus like you said. Who doesn’t enjoy hearing the locals!? I think places like Black Bear and So.Zo are open their doors to promote local artists are great and play a major role in the community by doing so.

  5. Bob Britten says:

    I like this idea for a column – comparing two places that make similar things. I’ve got to be in the right mood for Black Bear (and their prices, and their crowds), but I agree on the guacamole’s excellence.

  6. capnwinters says:

    I don’t think Black Bear has a very robust selection of food for we non-hippie types that may want to eat there. It seems like everything is a free range hippie kosher vegan tofu melt! Excellent cheese dip though. My main complaint about the place is that their cups are dirty. They have seen better days, and a dishwasher can only do so much before the grime of ages totally corrupts the cheap plastic cups.

  7. Shay Maunz says:

    I love that pretty much everyone in this town falls into either Team Black Bear or Team Chico’s Fat.

    I’m Team Black Bear, for a millions reasons, from their guacamole and bumper stickers to the art on the walls and the live music.

    I’ve only been to Chico’s fat once or twice, though. I think I’m just turned off by its appearance. And the fact that it’s not Black Bear.

  8. Bob Britten says:

    Judging from the fairly polarized comments you’re getting – as Shay points out – the best burrito in Morgantown seems like a ripe topic for bringing the audience into the conversation. You could really publicize the hell out of it – with the right effort, I bet you’d get a lot of people reposting the link.

  9. Pingback: Best Buritto Revisited « Mountaineats

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