by Ben Margolis
Today we have a guest blogger! Ben Margolis is my most frequent dining companion and often patiently puts up with my note-taking and photo-taking during meals. A big fan of food trucks, street meat, and other interesting locations, he's going to be writing occasional posts about Food in Unusual Places. So without further ado, here is Ben's account of his recent gas station lunch. -Rachel Blumenthal
When I first heard about the highly praised burrito place in a gas station on Yelp.com, I knew I had to check it out. You see, I have an unnatural pull to Food in Unusual Places, which is my column as the new guest blogger on Fork It Over Boston. Walk across the street from Mass General Hospital and enter the Grampy's gas station building, then look to the right. The cheerful cook will welcome you into the restaurant; smile back at her, glance up at the menu and tell her what you would like; there aren't too many choices. On my visit today, I got the pair of tacos for $4.50, with chorizo sausage and no cheese. For juice or soda, you need to pay at the convenience store register on the other side of the store. You pay for the Mexican food, cash only, at the Villa Mexico counter. They actually usually have their own fresh-squeezed juices, but the market's offerings in late January didn't meet their standards.
You can watch your food being cooked. There is a shiny griddle where they carefully warm up the corn tortillas for the tacos and cook the uncased, homemade chorizo, as well as toast the burritos after they are wrapped tightly. You have a choice: get it to stay or to go, which is odd because there are only three seats in the establishment. I got it to go, and they neatly tied a baggie with a napkin and utensils. However, it was too hot and delicious smelling to travel the cold distance back to the office.
I unwrapped the steaming aluminum foil with and picked up one of the perfectly shaped tacos with a salty, pungent aroma. The texture was great - soft and moist, yet sturdy. The tortilla was not too mealy; it had just enough corn flavor to avoid a distracting blandness. The lettuce and tomato were fresh and cool. The chorizo filling was spicy and salty, a nice contrast to the tortilla. Served on the side, salsa brought it to a new dimension with its sweet, peppery flavor. Adding too much of the stuff will overpower your taco. If there's something preventing it from being mindblowing, I would have liked there to be another ingredient, such as onion, cilantro, parsley, or shallot. I like soft tacos to be flavor-bombs. A little bit of complexity goes a long way. In previous experiences, I had the burritos, which were even better than the tacos. Chips and salsa are also a strong point. Anyway, a truly admirable effort takes place here, and I left feeling healthy, much better than I expected when I first had the notion to go here after reading the online commentsphere.
Address: 296 Cambridge St. (Beacon Hill) in Grampy's Gas Station (near Charles/MGH stop on the Red Line, Bowdoin on the Blue Line, and Science Park on the Green Line)Phone: (617) 957-0725